Meanwhile, over on one of the Internet lists for home educators, some hapless woman about to take her child out of school is already being targeted by cranks who are determined to sabotage the kids education before the mother has even had a chance to begin. The most idiotic advice being offered to her is about what is known as 'de-schooling' The theory behind this is that once a child comes out of school, the toxicity which has accumulated in his system psychologically (!) should be given a chance to leach out. This means attempting no work or anything even approaching an education for some time after being de-registered from school. The urban myth associated with this mad idea suggests that one month of de-schooling should be allowed for every year that the child has spent at school. Any normal person should at once be able to see the disadvantages of this crazy scheme.
Since the majority of de-registrations take place at secondary age, the time wasted in this way can be considerable. Fourteen is an increasingly popular time to de-register children; right in the run-up to taking GCSEs. How sitting around doing nothing at all for nine months at that critical stage in a child's education is meant to help the education is a very interesting point indeed.
Other advice on offer is equally mischievous, although I am sure not intentionally so. One mother recommends a maximum of twelve hours a week once the education actually starts. Her own child is studying for a GCSE in astronomy (just what employers are looking for!) The mother of a twelve year old girl explains what a success home education has been for her family. Her daughter was a little bad tempered when she had to go to school; these days she is pleased as punch. No word though on any educational benefits which might have accrued to her through the change in educational setting.
The general tone of the comments on this particular thread seems to be about the improvement in mood of the children concerned, rather than education per se. This is fairly common when parents take their kids out of school shortly after they move to secondary. Most children change a little after they leave primary school and few parents welcome these changes. The fact that this is often a sign that the child might be wishing to grow up a little does not seem to occur to these people. I would have been sorry indeed if my own daughter had behaved in the same way at thirteen as she did at ten. Children do change around puberty and there is little point in trying to delay, let alone reverse, these changes. This seems essentially what many of those who take their children from school at that age are trying to do. Of course their children become more cheerful in many cases once they have been taken out of school. No getting up early in the morning to study boring subjects, the chance to loll around watching television or browsing facebook rather than having double maths; most kids at that age would be very pleased with such a lifestyle and would probably feel it worth rewarding their mother with some cute smiles and hugs. Whether this is good for them either educationally or developmentally is quite another thing. It strikes me that the immediate result of such a move at the age of twelve would be to infantilise a child and delay the onset of maturity.