Monday, July 31, 2006

A Time for Change

Sunday was a very long, very interesting day.

We had a visiting preacher at church yesterday who had a particular gifting for healing. Roarke went up three times during the 2 services for prayer following specific words of knowledge from the preacher that were for him. By the end of the day, he looked different. Any of you who live with daily pain (or with someone in daily pain) know that it shows on your face - it leaves lines, changes the way you stand etc. Well by the evening his face had cleared of the pain, and the depression that comes with the illness had lifted.

Amidst it all today God spoke quite clearly to us both, which is leading to some rapid, serious talking and decision making. Changes are afoot...

The boys have been a bit restless all week - a combination of the long hot period here in the UK, not going out so much due to the school holidays (everywhere is too busy), no money due to Roarke being off, and not having seen many of their friends has combined to make them quite unsettled. We are going to have to work hard this week to change that. Today I hope we are going to get some science done as we've got a few experiments planned.

We also discovered earlier in the week that according to the medical experts, both Joshua and William would be considered noticably underweight, and Samuel only just the right weight. It sounds daft, but the problem is they eat well and are active! Whilst we know not to apply healthy adult eating to children (because they need their calories and fat) our eating as a family is healthy - all the boys were weaned on home made baby food instead of shop bought, and all have been eating a wide variety of fruit and veg since they were toddlers. Samuel and Joshua can't eat more than one bag of crisps a day - or every day for more than 3 days - or it triggers their ezcema (we think it is the salt they seem to react to). And especially now with the gluten they are restricted in what sweets they can have.

Never having had much money, the boys have never had lots of food treats, junk food, take aways etc over the years. We buy fresh, cook our own - and again, since Roarke went vegetarian and they went gluten free, that has been even more so.

Yes they have cakes and biscuits - home made, several times a week. But their overall intake is healthy - they have between 5 and 7 portions of fruit and veg a day!

I've asked around for advice and most other parents seem to feel its best to just keep with what we are doing (as they are healthy lads) but try to increase some particularly "fatty" foods that aren't junk - such as nuts, humous, olive oil, sweet potatoes etc. Mind you, that will have to wait now until he is back at work and our income is back to normal.

I'm part of the BBC's Action Network and noticed yesterday a comment by someone on my Noticeboard piece offering the support of our group to those based in the Medway looking into home education:

"I totally understand your problems facing you and your sons, but don't you think that your childern will be over protective and they'll find it ever harder to deal with other people when they finally go out to earn their living?"

It's an attitude I've come across before. My response is that actually home education makes my children better able to deal with other people, rather than less! They have a confidence in themselves that means they are not fearful of opening up conversations, or of engaging in a debate, they have a wide range of interests and knowledge that has depth to it - not just a collection of information learnt by rote with no understanding to back it up, they have an interest in and a respect for other people and their opinions, and they have a firm grasp of their place in God's Kingdom, and a desire to care for those around them who are in need or distress.

They didn't learn that at school.

It continues to bug me that the Education Act is not applied to schools, only to home educators. They don't get hassled by the LA for not providing an education that prepares children for life within the community that they live in, the Act also clearly states WE the parents are responsible for ensuring they receive a suitable education whether they are at school or not - yet parents feel nervous approaching schools to ask why they are failing their children..

It's like the fact that both Medway and Bromley LAs have admitted to me that they know of schools in their boroughs that actively encourage "problem" families to deregister - just to get them off their books, and under the guise of "helping" the families to avoid prosecution.

That's not elective home education. Those families are not being given the chance to make an informed choice - and all too often I suspect HE is not the best option for them, just that deregistration is the best thing for the school.

This practice has to stop, and it is the responsibility of the LAs - not the home education community - to deal with these schools, and I shall be pushing that point with both those LAs.

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