I used to think homeschooling was something I would never do! How would I have the patience for that? No breaks ever? I was planning on 4 kids so that means 4 kids at home 24/7. I had never known anyone who had done that.
But then, as my oldest daughter got closer and closer to school age I saw her learning so much every day. Just through our daily life. She was full to bursting with questions about the world and finding so much joy in learning. Just as she had for the years leading up to this point. She learnt to roll, sit, crawl, walk, run, jump, talk, sing, dance, and everything else, not from someone teaching her, but through her own curiosity and motivation. She was now beginning to get interested in letters and numbers and so we began to explore that naturally whenever she asked questions. It just felt so normal.
At almost 5 years old, my girl seemed too little to me to be going off to school. I saw articles all the time about the benefits of a later starting age and how important play-based learning was for children and I wished that school started later for us in Australia.
Coincidentally I stumbled across a few blogs about homeschooling at the same time and while I still thought ‘that’s not for me’, I did begin to think about education differently. I began asking myself a lot of questions.
Why was there an age limit when things had to change?
Why at 5 years old, when she was still so young, did I have to send her off somewhere else for others to teach her when what we were doing was working so well already?
Is ‘because everyone else does it’ a good enough reason?
What does ‘education’ really mean to me?
What did I want childhood to look like for my children?
Was I really brave enough to take responsibility for their whole education myself?
And HOW would I tell people I was homeschooling? What would they think?!!
When I really really thought about it, ‘just because most people go to school’, wasn’t a good enough reason for me to send them. This decision deserved as much thought and research as I gave everything else in their lives. I read lots of things over many months and eventually showed them to my husband who, thinking that I was crazy but also seeing that I was serious and that this was important to me actually read them, and jumped straight on board with the idea (I love him!).
My reading showed me that homeschooling was a valid and legal option for education and one that worked very well. That kids who were educated at home did as well as their peers or better on all measures. So with the knowledge that it can work, I started thinking more realistically about if it could work for us.
We decided that if things were working so well for us now, then there was no need for anything to change. We were all happy, we were having fun, and the girls were learning a lot! The more I read the more I loved the thought of a completely different lifestyle than I’d imagined. A life where we got to spend lots of time together as a family, developing close relationships with each other and extended family too. An unrushed childhood filled with hours and hours of play and time outside. A life where learning happens whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. Where my children could learn at their own pace, free from pressure. Where there was room to let them explore interests unique to them and the ability to cater education to their learning style. Where I could let them learn through play! A life of loving learning together and inspiring each other, of questioning and curiosity, of witnessing them grow and discover. A well rounded education in more than just academics.
Of course there is also the positives of keeping them out of the school system, which has its flaws. But I didn’t want to make the decision because of fear of what school might be like for them, but rather the amazing lifestyle and learning opportunities that homeschooling could provide. They could certainly go to school and love it and come out just fine. After all, we did! I just felt that this would be a better choice for our children and family at this time.
Once I had decided that this could be great, I had to do it. I could be brave and go against the grain because I believed in my choice. It was awkward to tell people at first because I wondered if they would understand and if they would criticize me. Lucky for me I have supportive family and friends and it seemed like most people half expected this decision anyway. They could see how well the kids were already learning at home. There was the socialization question of course, but with a little explaining that wasn’t an issue either.
Now I just had to work out how we would do this! That part turned out to be easier than expected. The toughest part so far has been actually making the decision. It’s a huge decision but we are SO glad we made it. We are loving our life together.