In June last year, we realised a long-held dream, when we cheerfully withdrew our children from public school, and began our journey in homeschooling. 15 months in, we have not got a single regret, and are loving the ability to work with our children at their level and with their interests. I have spoken a bit about it over on my craft blog, but the longer we do it, the more questions we get about the how, what, when, why of what we are doing and this magic we are making, one day at a time.
“How do you find the time?”
This one, oh man, I get this with almost everything I do! Where do I find the time to craft, bake, work a doTERRA biz, work a photography biz, homeschool four kids, run a home, etc etc. The short answer is – you have time for what you prioritise. The longer version is – schooling in the traditional sense, wastes a whole lot of time. The bell rings at 9.20. 300 kids stream into the quadrangle, and maybe 10 minutes later, assembly starts…then off to their room to hang up their bags and put their hats away and sit at their desk and chat to their friends and calm down for class…can you see where I’m going? They are there for 6 hours a day, but they aren’t actively learning for 6 hours a day – so we aren’t homeschooling for 6 hours a day! We start our day around 9/9.30, and aim to finish by the time daddy gets home for lunch at 1. This leaves our afternoon free to play and read and go for walks and get my chores done – and I don’t have to spend time running them to and from school, or packing lunches, or ironing uniforms – really, I’m not needing that much extra time! I have also become very good at multi-tasking. I will sit and work on handwork once the children are settled into their lessons and only need help occassionally. We bake together and call it school. I steal 5 minute snippets to check in on my doTERRA biz. I edit photos at night. I’m really no busier than any other mum.
“What about high school?”
Ah, the highschool thing. Bear, our eldest, started year 7 towards the end of last year, so, yeah, we’ll homeschool for highschool. There are lots of resources and support available, and we feel confident we can help them through high school and into university while homeschooling. There is even greater flexibility in electives in homeschooled highschool than in traditional schooling, which means we can be really specific in creating a plan that suits the children. Bear current does the compulsory English, maths, science & HSIE, plus electives of language (German), and technology, in which he is learning, and really teaching himself a lot about, robotics and coding. By the time the kids hit the highschool years, they are quite good at teaching themselves, and my role has become more about facilitating his access to resources, and helping him through tricky spots, or helping him work out how to find the answer, rather than direct instruction.
“What about socialisation?”
This is a really common one! But here’s some food for thought – do you only socialise with people your own age? The school environment can be quite toxic, with 100 or more kids of the same age jockeying to establish their dominance in the heirarchy, so we don’t consider our children to be missing out, simply because they don’t have school-based socialisation. In fact, from my personal schooling experience, I’d consider them better off! What they lack in same-age-group-socialisation, they more than make up for in real world socialisation. They meet with friends at drama class and robotics class and homeschool group and Sunday School, where they interact with kids based on interests, not age – much like us adults, really! They are out and about running errands with me so are immersed in the daily community socialisation of making small talk at the checkout and how to speak to people in professional transactions. They are learning how to mentor other children and in turn be mentoring by more advanced peers. I often refer to it as, they get less “horizontal” socialisation , as in same-age-peers, but they get more “vertical” socialisation, and within the same week spend time interaction with people as young as 15 months, and as old as 80+. So much real-world immersion will stand them in good stead in future years.
“Why do you homeschool?”
The big question! There are a lot of reasons that went into this decision, and it was most definitely not one taken lightly. I had always been interested in homeschooling, from when our youngest started school in 2012, and we started discussing it seriously somewhere in 2015 – basically two years before we took the plunge, so it was a very well considered decision. It basically came down to a passion for child-led, child-supportive education, and the chance to offer our children more support in their various areas of need, with our tow older boys in particular, having additional needs that we were struggling to get met within the mainstream system. We love the flexibility of homeschool to meet the children where they are at, to tailor the lessons to their interests, and to teach in a way they learn best. It also means I get to enjoy the everyday stuff with them, and the dynamic of our family has completely changed and is much calmer and more relaxed now.
How did you get the kids on board?”
They were 100% on board from the first time we mentioned it. We did a couple of trial runs of lessons and what a homeschool day would look like, over holidays and the like, and we were very open with them throughout the discussion process – there was no point doing all the work of preparing for homeschool, if they weren’t keen to actually do it!! They understood why we were suggesting it, and what it would involve. I don’t think there was ever a point where any of the showed any reluctance! We have recently gone through the registration renewal process, and once again, we were very open with the children throughout that process, ensuring they were enjoying homeschool, and wanted to continue, which was a resounding YES. (Just recently, I had to explain the concept of boarding school as a tangent to one of MIss7’s stories, and the children were horrified to think not only did people have to go to school-school, but they had to LIVE there!!)
“Are you a teacher by profession?”
Nope! Just an ordinary mum, passionate about helping her kids, and spending way too much time on the internet researching and planning and prepping. There are so so many resources out there to walk you through almost every step of the way.
“Does it cost a bomb?”
Like almost anything in life, it can cost as much or as little as you want. We spend a bit on books, and consumables, but it wouldn’t be much more than what we would spend on school fees, uniforms, excursions, fundraisers, etc etc etc. We also started from a position of me having been a stay-at-home-mum since 2006 anyway, so there wasn’t a loss of income we needed to factor in. Some school units I will wing it completely with resources we already have, or the library, or the internet. Other times I’ll go nuts and buy all the things. It just depends on how interested we are in the projects we are looking at, and what feels like good value. It can definitely be done really quite cheaply. There are no initial costs to register for homeschooling, or ongoing fees required to maintain your registration, so 100% of what you choose to spend goes directly to the children’s education.
If you have questions that I haven’t answered above, please drop me a comment and I will do my best to answer there, and also file them away for a future blog post. I also plan to do a “day-in-the-life” style post