Hello, I’m Nicole. I’m “Mum of One” to Oscar. With my husband, Josh. Two cats, Dexter & Mortimer (who are emotional support pets for Oscar), we home educate our son.
Our home ed Journey really started right from when I found out I was pregnant. I was told due to my health issues and medication, I likely couldn’t have children. So you can imagine our surprise when Oscar came along.
My husband was home educated most of his life except when he did his GCSEs at the local high school. My brother was also home taught for brief period due to health issues. So I was aware of the home educating world.
Oscar was always a happy and cheerful baby, he was very aware of his surroundings and hitting his milestones before he should have. For instance, at 6months he’d already worked out how to use a remote control. He has always been so knowledgeable. We were surrounded by extended family so he was always entertained and shown lots of love & hugs. Despite this, his sleeping was non existent and when I went to groups or met up with friends I realised that he was well out of the norm. By the time he turned 1 his demeanour changed. We could be in a group or meeting friends and family, he would be happy one moment and the next he would be screaming and thrashing about. Think “Jekyll and Hyde”, but he didn't mean to be that way.
Fast forward to when he was four, I learned which situations would trigger these meltdowns and figured out Oscar was on the Autistic spectrum. I had friends who have Autism, others who were teachers who knew the signs and a kind health visitor who listened to me and agreed. We finally got a diagnosis when Oscar was 6. Despite this, Oscar loved learning with me already, which is a good indicator home education was working for us. I learnt what worked and what didn't. I started out following the Curriculum, working from 9-3. I soon realised that wasn't going to last. I wish I’d been more aware of who I could turn to, given more information about different techniques and lifestyles to home education. I had a basic understanding of home educating, but always was told by doctors, nurses and friends he was missing out & he won’t grow up happy. I was following my ambitions not his.
Now I try to support those who are starting their journey, being the person I needed back at the start. We’ve found it brings you closer as a family, its a joy seeing your child learn.
I will say it’s not for everyone, but if you want to try, do it. You aren’t failing because it doesn't work out. I have two nephews both on the spectrum who love school and thrive in that environment.
Nowadays we are child led, learning whenever and wherever. I sometimes base subjects on what his friends may be learning in school. But mainly follow Oscar’s interest. He shares my love of science and art . If you look back on my blog or Instagram your see how I started doing science experiments with Oscar when he was young, it was all I knew at that time. Oscar and I bonded over those sessions. Doing those experiments made me realise Oscar learns the same way I do, by being involved, literally doing said things and being immersed in the subject. By playing games as well, role playing and making things. It help him to understand more on the subject he was learning. It’s also helped me regain my love of science and other subjects. He has a brilliant imagination, far greater than mine.
I base a lot of my artwork on ideas he has, he learns a lot from pictures. Being able to illustrate and design artwork about what we are learning has been a big help for us both. This is where my little art business nixywood art came into the picture. I’ve gained more confidence in my artwork. As of last year, I started taking orders and commissions which has kept me busy. Sometimes its nice to have my own time, doing artwork or selling on my Etsy account.
Oscar has taught me a great deal about myself. It turns out I most likely have high functioning autism and it runs in my family. Without having Oscar I would still be living life not understanding why I don't fit in anywhere. Which I’m very grateful for.
Our typical day has changed since the epidemic started. My husband works from home a lot more and to start with Oscar didn't like it However over time, Josh has been more involved in Oscar’s learning, teaching Oscar about his job and engineering has been great experience for each of them. We usually start the day with English and maths. Oscar will either log on to one of his educational apps or go onto websites to learn something new or work on what he already knows. While that is happening, I usually tidy, get books out or pack bags ready for the day ahead. Depending if he’s at the office or at home, Josh will start work early. If he is at home, he tends to drop in and out of Oscar’s learning. Weather allowing, Oscar and I will head out. We have a lot of places within walking distance which is a big thing for us as I don’t drive due health reasons. We also have lots of friends around us and regularly meet up with, or say a quick hello while passing.
Oscar works best after he’s had a run around or been outside for a while. We usually head back for lunch, which often involves a board game, video game, reading or listening to an audiobook. After lunch I usually have something prepared for an hour or so. Either a science experiment or we may have joined in on a subject with our groups. We will also play with Oscars toys. I really try to encourage play with Oscar. It’s something that really helps with his Autism, it calms him, gives him a sensory input and helps with his motor skills. It also helps me with communicating with Oscar, we can have discussions through toys, which helps with his speech.
Once a week he will go to my parents and that gives me a bit of a rest, to catch up on any artwork I may need to do for customers. Having a day off helps balance things. I wouldn’t say I have everything in a perfect balance. I’m no super mum. I have health issues to deal with and sometimes it catches up on me. However I have family who support me and will help out if I'm unwell. Which I appreciate a lot. As the saying goes - it takes a village to raise a child.
In the evening we all head out again. We live reasonably close to beaches and forests. It’s a nice ending to the day. So far Oscar has had lots of fond memories being together and always learning at any given opportunity.
Nicole , as the name of her blog suggests, is mum of one to Oscar, who has high functioning autism. When Nicole is not teaching Oscar about the world and everything in between, you can find her outside surrounded by her love of nature. She dabbles in illustration & design which you can find at Nixy Wood Art. Oscar inspires her mostly, along with the many animals and pets that Oscar adopts . She tries to show a balanced view of life of her family’s home education journey, along with her own disabilities & any issues that arise, usually just being very sleep deprived. She always wants to inspire others & to show with a little bit of creativity & good humour you can teach your children whatever life throws at you.
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