I had lived on my farm for 18 years and then one day I decided I had had enough. It was time to go. I had three kids left at home. My 15 year old daughter did not want to come with us, so it left the two boys. They did not have an option. One was 11 and the other was 7.
I bought a troopie and my ex-husband and I made a bed in the back, we packed it with camping gear, the boys had a tent and off we went around Australia. It was one of the most memorable years for us all, the boys will never forget it and my daughter came and joined us later on.
It was a great time to do this, the boys were not at high school yet and I believed there was no better education than travelling around this beautiful country of ours.
Growth is inevitable in life. There are many aspects to growth, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. To me these all need to be addressed and nurtured in their expansion. I do believe that some schools do not often teach or lead by example in all these areas.
Before leaving I liaised with WA Education Department and I was given home school lessons and educational materials for the kids. The youngest was still fine tuning reading and writing and the eldest was starting to branch out into his own identity. I knew it would be good.
As this article is about home schooling I stay focused on that, as there are so many other stories to tell.
The first thing I chose to establish is a routine. Once established, the children would do between one and two hours every morning on a Monday to Friday with weekends off.
Within the 12 month period, they were 6 months ahead of the school curriculum. They soon got to know the routine, my ex would pack up and I would play teacher. I was a teacher for adults previously, this was easy for me because I am a structured and organised person.
We would rotate subjects and each day would focus on different topics, English, maths, life skills, art, history etc. It became quite easy in the end, though what was hard was the fact that I was always the teacher.
I did get resistance from my 11 year old, and in the end I gave him weekly topics and he has to write a reports about the topics of his choosing. Sugar manufacturing, turtle reproduction, wind turbines etc. He liked being able to explore his own topics, though there was still resistance.
Once we relocated in Victoria, I did give them the option to continue home schooling and both opted to go to school.
This has led me to the following conclusions about home schooling.
- The children have to want it, a resisting child makes it hard
- Children benefit from routine. It helps them to feel secure. So I would aim for a Monday to Friday structure or something similar
- Mornings are always the best times where we are most alert and intellectually tuned in, do what has to be done and then the rest of the day is free
- Explore how you want to home school, do they have free reign or is there going to be learning of some description
- I know home school kids that have huge disadvantaged social skills, there has to be balance with social interaction
- Different children have different values and if social is a very strong one for them, then being in a social school setting may be the best thing
- Our children come through us, not from us, they will or will not want to learn, it is their choice
- There are many different ways to learn, on the road I gave the youngest money to learn counting and buying, he grasped the hands on approach very easily
- My children think out of the box and I attribute that to them having many experiences and seeing many things, I have one visionary and one entrepreneur son
- Allow them to follow their own passion and dreams
- If you plan to home school, set the boundaries and ground rules before
- Allowing kids to just watch TV or play computer games does not allow the imagination to flourish
- Home schooling takes dedication and time commitments
- Be mindful you have to be there for your children, so how are you financially going to support this
All in all I would have carried on with homeschooling. I did set up a retail business once we relocated and I had them involved in the business. I believe teaching children practical life skills are priceless. It is all very well having the grades and good marks, though the children knowing how to support themselves, deal with difficult situations, adapt to changes, apply themselves when needed and to know what their interests are is priceless.
So to summarise
- Workout why you want to home school
- How are you going to apply that?
- What does that actually mean you are going to do?
- Are you committed?
- Do the children know and understand what this will entail?
- Create a routine and apply regular time slots for learning and growth
- Let them be free to be them
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