What does success look like?

I have spent years and years home educating my children and I am only now finding out from online comments, that my kids might never work!

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They won’t know how to socialise, they won’t know how to look after themselves, and they won’t be able to obtain or hold down paid employment.

ThEY WiLL FAiL.

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But wait a minute…

That hasn’t been my experience at all.  Nor has it been the experience of my contemporaries. In fact we have found quite the opposite has happened. Our kids have been able to work, go to school/college/university and be successful at what they do.

My kids are all very different. Some are entrepreneurial, others are academic, some are both. I have social butterflies, introverts,  extroverts, creatives, outside the box thinkers, those with more logic, those with less.   Some are mouthy, others more polite. Some are tidy, some are messy.  Some are lazy when it comes to my expectations, but rise up when others expect things of them, some like to argue, others avoid conflict.

They are essentially imperfect, but delightfully unique human beings doing the best they can in the world.  Exactly as they were raised to be.

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This week, my son who turns 16 today (Happy birthday  J.A.D ), got his first job.  J.A.D  is our 4th home educated child. He went to school when he was 13.   He is not in top set, he has Hypotonia which restricts his writing ability, requiring him to use a scribe or laptop and has pretty much no interest in getting A’s in his exams. No amount of inspirational talks (a.k.a nagging) seems to have changed that about him.

His motivations are different.  J.A.D is a people person.  He has many friends, from all walks of life. He can converse with the young and the old, and often makes people feel happy and secure.  He is one of those larrikins that has a permanent twinkle in their eye. He says things to people that I would never dare, and they (mostly) love him for it. J.A.D has natural leadership abilities, and has always been an influencer. He helps out with scouts, and often volunteers for other activities that interest him, both in and out of school.

J.A.D asked at our local trampolining place, how someone goes about getting a job there. He was told, turned up for his interview and got the job. He loves to trampoline, he’s pretty good at it too.  I am absolutely over the moon for him.  Not only did he manage to get himself a job that pays above minimum wage while still at school, he managed to get a job doing something he loves.

If I was to mark  J.A.D success  solely by his report card and the vast majority of the Guardian’s readership, he would be a failure, because success and acheivement are often only measured in grades.

If I take him and hold him up against Albert Einstein’s words, he is a genius in his own right.

As a mum, I have learnt to appreciate each child for the gift they are.  It is not always easy to parent a child as an individual and comparison can be an easy trap to fall into.

Success is different everywhere. It will be different in your household, because your kids are different too mine.  They have different strengths and weakness.  They will be capable of different things.  They are unique and individual, and need to be given the space to be that.

I genuinely believe that George Sheehan says it best here.

 “Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” — George Sheehan

I think this has been the most freeing thing about home education. That the kids have had the time, freedom, space and encouragement to discover who they are and become it.

And for me that has been the self imposed measure, of my own success.

Have I  had the courage, determination and the will, to free my children to become the person, they believe they were meant to be?

I truly hope so!

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