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The day after the Easter holidays, my daughter refused to go to school, and for the next two months we struggled. Some days she went in willingly, some days she went in under pitiful protest, and some days she simply refused to go. After a few weeks we changed schools. That was better, but the pattern continued. We worked with the schools, we worked with the school nurse, we got a referral to the local child and adolescent counselling service. The first we would have been able to see the educational psychologist was months in the future. The referral to the counselling service will take months. Everyone was lovely, and had woefully inadequate resources, and professional help was not going to be available for many months. The kind of concentrated professional help that she would have needed to cope with the stress of school wasn’t going to be available at all. After three weeks at the new school, I took the decision to remove her from school.

It was an agonizing decision. For one thing, I do not find it easy to defy conventional wisdom, despite deeply disagreeing with a lot of it. Conventional wisdom is very clear that the best place for children is school, for all sorts of good reasons (socialization, group learning, growing up part of the culture, allowing the parents time to work, etc.). For another thing, how was I going to home educate as a single mother who is the sole financial provider? How would this introvert manage 100% face time with a high-energy, highly sensitive, strong-willed, highly social little being?

The basic question, in the end, was whether I believe in school enough to force my child to endure what was clearly enormous stress and pressure. It turns out I don’t.