When I say the word homeschool, what image does it conjure up for you? For me it was a picture of smiling kids sitting around the kitchen table, painting with watercolors while drinking raw cow’s milk from their mason jars with yummy oatmeal cookies on the side. The table adorned with fresh garden flowers, nature’s treasures, and ornithology field guides. The reality is, this is not often our reality, it's a careful juggling act of needs and priorities, being honest and trying hard. I am slowly finding my feet, and still feel very passionate and confident about our decision to home school.
We are only four weeks into our homeschooling year but I wanted to share a little about how it's going and how/why we made the decision to home school.
Dream vs. reality.
In honesty, these early weeks have been an emotional journey as well as a practical one. Emotionally there are the highs of enjoying sitting next to Theo and Isla while they learn, spending the hours together in the forest or garden rather than them being in a small classroom. But the lows, those tearful lows of questioning myself. Are they enjoying it, are they happy, do they miss their friends? Am I enough?
I'm still trying hard to master the fine art of providing interesting and creative activities for the kiddies, whilst preventing the house from looking like a tornado just blew through it and the garden from drowning in a sea of weeds all while preventing our ever mobile and adventurous baby girl from emptying every box in the house and climbing onto every chair, shelf and surface in sight.
Some days I excitedly share an idea with the kids for it to be met with double eye rolling, and other days the simplest activity can captivate them for the longest time. I've learned not to take things personally. Everyday I'm learning how the kiddies like to learn, what motivates them, where is more support needed. Theo is a hands on learner. He needs to construct/experience something for it to make an impression. He is not big into arts and crafts but anything reptile-orientated will captivate him. For Isla, she's our creative mind. She likes to get the dirt under her nails, paint on her cheeks and bury herself in a pad of paper and crayons.
I have days when I feel I was born to do this, when our homeschooling weaves naturally into our homesteading, the sun shines, we intersperse our learning with walks in the forest and gardening, we are all in good spirits. Then there are the days when I hear the roar of the school bus drive past our house at 3 pm and think to myself...remind me why am I homeschooling!?, how did that happen? Desperate moments, feeling exhausted, loosing my mind in all the noise and chaos and in desperate need of some kiddie free time. But there are a great deal more of the former I'm pleased to report.
Once we made our decision to home-school i felt it necessary to carefully craft my explanation of why, and memorize it, be armed with it, because I wanted to be articulate if and when people asked. And people certainly do ask, daily it seems, be it in the supermarket queue whilst wrangling 4 kiddies during school hours. Or random meetings at the park, or from the parents of Theo's and Isla's old school friends. Some suspicious, some in admiration. Friends and family have been intrigued by many of our life choices but this one in particular really prompted questioning.
So here's the big Why.
Theo had a happy year at kindergarten, and we do value the public system and the incredible work teachers do. But he was not terribly inspired and motivated to learn because of the repetitive and generic content. We want his time and energy to be spent learning about the world in a certain way, be motivated by his passions (currently all things reptiles), learning at his pace, and learning through hands-on experiences. We want our kids educated in a safe place with healthy influences, having time each day to explore, play, dream, and just be kids. Homeschooling gives us infinite freedom to travel as a family, something we place a large value on.
On those days when I question myself, my abilities, and our decision, this phrase gets me through: “you are living amidst the most wonderful classroom ever created!”
While Jonathan and I were in the early discussions about homeschooling one of the first questions I posed was about The finances of homeschooling. Financially, homeschooling meant me committing to being a stay-at-home mum instead of contributing financially to the family income. Then there was the cost of expensive curricula, activities to enroll the kids in, and possible costs to remodel our house for a classroom. How much would it truly cost, and did we have the means?
But after some researching and networking I've discovered, there are endless free resources and curricula and you don’t need a ‘classroom’ in your house – the world becomes your classroom! Reading chapter books under a shady tree in the garden, a math lesson by the river, or writing in a journal on the sofa.
Homeschooling of course looks different for every family. That is one of the marvelous things about it. Your unique family, lifestyle, interests, and passions all drive your journey of learning. So this is our journey and I'm excited to document and share it with you, I’ll keep you posted with a follow-up homeschooling series, but for more about our family’s homeschool/homestead journey, follow us on Instagram.
We feel compelled to follow our hearts and dreams to give our four children a holistic education. love to hear your homeschool stories and thoughts.
Big Thanks to all our friends and family for your continued interest and support.
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