As I walked along the promenade of this particular Victorian sea side town last week, my heart and prayers were spilling over with thankfulness. This is the place where Lanky Dude and I sat outside a cafe two years ago, marking the occasion of his enrolment to college. It is the place I have paced and prayed at times over these two years as he has sat exams. It was where Rhythm Dude also enrolled to college for the first time last year, and was where I was walking and praying again while he enrolled for this coming year. This college has been such a provision and blessing for both boys.
I’ve written previously about Lanky Dude’s home to college transition Home ed to college ed – part 1 July 2019 so this time I’m reflecting on Rhythm Dude’s experience. Our boys are very different; a strength of home ed for them, I think, has been to allow them to develop their unique characters and abilities. And to know these are equal in God’s eyes, as well as in ours.
Rhythm Dude went to college a year earlier than his brother, enrolling on a much sought after “Early College Transfer”. This excellent programme is designed for students who’s abilities are more practical than straight academic. They choose one from a variety of vocational subjects, and study for English and maths GCSE at the same time. Rhythm Dude chose carpentry and joinery. He had attended a general building “Links” course the previous year, one afternoon a week. This enabled him to get used to a college environment, to find his way around the fairly large campus, and to learn to use the bus with confidence. It meant that his first day ever in full time education was much less daunting than it might otherwise have been.
Like his brother, he adapted to college life pretty easily. He showed good organisational skills, preparing his lunch and everything he needed for the following day the night before. He was always ready to leave the house by 7.30, usually hurrying his brother along! He received excellent support for his dyslexia, both within the English lessons he took (he did functional skills and progressed three levels in the year) and within his carpentry classes and assignments.
He was at least a year younger than everyone else, but he held his own, was his own person and made some good friends. He is quick witted and intuitive and was able to make some wise choices when necessary. The course itself based much emphasis on character qualities and practical skills, not just exam grades, as these ultimately are what make people employable. Again, I was grateful as this also flowed seamlessly on from our philosophy at home.
The course was a real God-send…literally. All the places were taken, but one of the lead teachers must have noticed something in Rhythm Dude which was worth investing in, while on the Links course. He said they would find a place for him in whichever trade area he wanted. I’m so grateful for this; it was an answer to much prayer.
He finished the year with a City and Guilds Level 1 in carpentry and joinery (obtaining mainly merits and distinctions), his maths GCSE (a huge relief all round) and having been nominated as an outstanding student. I’m so proud of him. Certainly for the results, but more for the character qualities which have been hewn, tested and proved over the year. Starting college a year earlier also meant the boys had one year where college was a shared experience. As they continue into adult life, their paths will naturally diverge, but having spent so many foundational childhood years learning and playing together, I also think this was God’s grace towards them and us. An answer to a prayer I didn’t even pray! I’m finishing with the same photo as last time; our boys heading off to college together. So proud of them both and so blessed to be their mum.