homeschooling · Life Skills · natural learning · Unschooling · Wildschooling · World schooling

The Old “Social Wellbeing” Concern About Homeschoolers

No, my children don’t “miss out” on the social wellbeing that so many believe is only offered in school class rooms. In fact it’s not the kind of restricted social interaction I seek for my children, limited to their own age for the majority of their childhood!

What I seek for my children is a natural, not engineered social setting so they may interact with all ages, all walks of life, meeting NEW people all the time…learning how to make NEW friends and gain confidence in doing so, BECAUSE they are given the opportunity.

No…homeschooling does NOT mean your family sits at home all day during school hours, doing the exact same thing school classrooms do without the other children. Many, if not most, choose home education to be “different” to school. In fact the quality of home education means 1 hour is equal to a whole day of sitting in a classroom!

I’m reading The 5 Hour School Week at the moment. It’s based on “The 4 hour Work Week” principles written by Tim Ferris. I read that book about 15 years ago and loved that too! But at this stage in my life, the 5 hour school week is a fantastic book… I’m loving it!

Coming back to our societies ideas around home education…It bothers me when people assume we are at a social disadvantage! It’s just not true! We have the freedom, living in this day and age, to make friends so easily! Our online community is incredible! The sharing of resources is abundant!

Learning is DIFFERENT to what it was when school was introduced! This is why I love “home” school! You can do it ANYWHERE! It’s not confined to four walls! You CAN talk ANYTIME you want! With whoever! In class…you cannot!

The confidence this autonomy instils is incredible, being one of the many millions of reasons I personally choose home education! So I just want to leave it here…for now anyway. My point is…home educating families, have the freedom to interact with those THEY choose! Therefore the QUALITY of their social life is much richer, for their is true purpose that brings these people together.

Out of common interests, passions and choice. Homeschoolers know they need to treat each other with respect or they simply won’t maintain the relationship, dissimilar to being in school with the same people for years! You know that your relationships are built on mutual respect in homeschooling, because you are “choosing” your friendships.

Just some food for thought. I recently came across someone who talked of a child not being able to go to kinder (NJNP), as a disadvantage (socially)…BUT I just want to say, it’s NOT the only place you can find community! It’s not the only place you can gain social wellbeing.

The world is a big place! People are everywhere! If you don’t have your community, village or tribe yet…create it! That’s my philosophy! It always has been. This is one of my inspirations behind unschooling (home education). School is just not quite what I personally imagined for my family, for a multitude of reasons. Learning quality being one. But that’s for another blog;)

homeschooling · natural learning · Unschooling · Wildschooling · World schooling

When home educating parents meet with opposition…

To the homeschooling / home educating parent who meet with disapproval for their choices by friends, family or strangers,

I hear you and I’m with you! It’s unsettling and at certain unexpected moments, can inflict subtle self doubt. BUT…I’m hear to share something that I keep sharing with other parents over and over. These are 2 of my favourite quotes that I feel apply perfectly well to this situation. 

“To the wrong person, no words are enough. To the right person, no words are needed.” Unknown.

and “When the voice and the vision on the inside become louder and more profound than the voices and opinions on the outside you have begun to master your life.” Dr John F Demartini

See, I feel they apply so well because so many people give unsolicited advise and unwelcome opinions, beyond just a helpful balanced perspective. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it may be in the form of a question, designed or intended to plant a seed of self doubt. I hear these stories a lot! 

My solution to this… Is to meet any sign of doubt with certainty the exceeds it tenfold. You do NOT need to explain your choices as a parent (homeschooling or not) to anyone else. Wait for the 10% chance each year of being audited. By all means, do prepare records for that. Keep your journal and note your learning experiences…But don’t feel the need to “comfort” others or console them in any form…in order to make THEM feel comfortable with your home educating choices.

It’s easy to feel the need…I have been there a few times even with strangers. One polite teacher in the park once said after hearing my tone…”that’s ok, a few people homeschool now don’t they”. She must have heard my hesitation to tell her…since she’d already disclosed her profession. 

Since then, my remedy for meeting others doubt is to simply unveil an authentic flood of enthusiasm and certainty. I love to point people in the direction of the industrial purpose of schooling and how we have evolved far beyond that. That I feel school systems are largely outdated and that socialisation is not a concern when you have a community around you and unlimited time to engage with all ages and kinds of people.

I also feel it’s great to mention the teacher student ratio and the immense superiority of 1-1 attention ESPECIALLY with a parent and child (who like each other’s company), who understand each other’s language and values system. It’s easier to “explain” something when you know the person well. 

In a class room, individuals and their creativity get lost. That’s just a start! I could continue all day, but by then, the conversation usually lads to acceptance lithesome level of understanding or insight. Outside of a classroom, learning is unlimited! Without a curriculum, learning potential is unending!

Above all, my answer to this common problem I see parents of new homeschoolers like me having is…go back to my favourite quotes above! I live by them and feel these are largely my driving forces behind my choice to actually homeschool too.

homeschooling · Life Skills · natural learning · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

More reasons to home educate… Thinking outside the box

“Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places.” John Holt, How Children Learn

“Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humour, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.”

― John Holt , Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling

It seems to be a custom in our culture to ask young children how old they are before jumping to the next question…do you go to kinder / school. We have now been asked several times by teachers in particular, which is not surprising given it’s what they do.

Yesterday my 5 year old was asked “do you go to school”? to which she replied “No.” Then, to the next question, which was “will you be going next year?” she simply stated “No.”

Well, to be fair…it WAS a yes or no question! It seemed to be all the man was interested in. When I comforted the family (with similar aged children, which was another reason for the keen interest) with a short explanation of “we’re home “schooling”… he expressed surprise. This was immediately followed by THAT question. “Why did you choose to homeschool?”

And so again (I thought…I better get used to this) … I replied with a comforting and non offensive, much abbreviated explanation I often give to strangers. That was… we like the freedom and plan to travel / road school. I stated that was my “short version of the answer and said there were MANY reasons we are choosing to.

He replied with…”Oh I could never homeschool… my children wouldn’t listen to me. They don’t listen to me now.” I laughed. Matt simply said… “just listen to your children”. THAT answer RIGHT there is what (in my mind) is wrong with “school” thinking! It shouldn’t BE about jamming things down children’s throats…talking AT them ALL DAY. This is one of my “bones to pick” with the system.

School is not so much about the children’s experience as it is about “programming” them to perform “average” reading, arithmetic and writing. That’s easy enough to learn at home! What OTHER reason is there to send a child to school and AWAY from the real world and ALL the people in it from ALL ages, generations and walks of life?????

We did laugh though that it seemed to be teachers with children the same age asking us the same questions. But it lead me to want to dive deeper into my answer here. See, our choice to home education / “unschool” (take the school out of learning and education), comes from our desire to allow our children’s own curiosity to direct there uninterrupted learning.

See, when a bell rings every 30 minutes or so to move onto the next “subject”, we give children a strong message that – what they are learning is not important enough to continue right now. We interrupt them and don’t “allow” them to dive deeper if they choose. With a class full of 30 or so children, how can a child be certain to feel comfortable enough to ask the questions they have.

What about when they don’t even have the “time” to ask those questions because there simply wasn’t enough time that lesson or because of one reason or another, they forgot…because there was just so much going on in the class… distracting them from their own independent thinking?

That’s the big one for us as parents! We want our children to “think for themselves”, as opposed to simply learning to conform and obey to “pass” or meet “standards” or “fit in”…all while forgetting their own curiosity. There are just so many reasons we CHOOSE to home educate / unschool. Freedom to dive deep into learning is one of them.

homeschooling · Life Skills · natural learning · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

The Answer to the Question: Why did you choose to home educate?

It’s not easy to answer this question in passing! For a start, there are 100 if not thousands of reasons why I chose to home educate. My short answer was “I never imagined it any other way. Mostly for the freedom to travel and road school, but for many reasons.” Maybe I was keeping the cards close to my chest.

I edited the first paragraph to include my actual answer when someone pointed out how my original paragraph could have been interpreted vastly different. I did say it was no light decision. What I meant by that was…I’ve given this enormous consideration. I have great strength in my certainty. I sure hope to convey that…which “in passing” is not going to do the subject justice!

For one, I feel learning outside a school classroom, can be much less limited! I also feel you have far more potential to integrate into society outside of school than divided and segregated with a focus on conformity. I’m no fan of conforming for it’s own sake!

There are also a great many articles I have read that have done a beautiful job of explaining the benefits and advantages of home “school”, so I’m mindful that I really want to “do it justice” when I share the beauty of home ed to the outside world. But for now, I just want to scratch the surface. I guess that’s why I began this blog as well.

Aside from keeping a home ed journal for potential audit purposes, I wanted to keep these precious memories close at hand. Besides, I find that when you measure something, as in “keep a track of it”…you are more mindful, present and aware of it, AND you can see your performance, record the journey of changes and growth!

It’s a simple success tool that I’m really beginning to have respect for, using it in my own life more and more as I grow older. I’ve grown to LOVE spread sheets! Something only recent, BUT something I never thought I would…in a million years! This is also teaching me, that the love of learning just takes you to places that others find it hard and laborious to attain. You know…things like “maths”.

See when you love something…you naturally want to learn ALL about it! And numbers, language, history and EVERYTHING…every other subject are what you WANT to know ABOUT this topic that you LOVE! If you love Growing food and Self Sustainability for example, you are going to want to learn all the plant names, history of their discovery, distance to plant their seeds, how long it takes to grow and fruit.

Everything (every “subject”) IN REAL LIFE… is intertwined….NOT separate! Thats…in a nutshell, MY reason for home education (not school). But outside that nutshell, it’s many, MANY reasons that I chose home education! I won’t call it home school if I’m being honest! Because I’m not choosing “school”. I’m not bringing school into my home. I’m choosing something different. I’m choosing real life.

You have freedom to go MUCH deeper into a subject you’re taken by when you’re the driver behind the wheel of your own learning. You don’t get a bell that drills the message into you that “nothing is important enough, not to be interrupted by an outer authority”. What does a bell teach a child about their own autonomy? I want my children to REALLY learn that their say…matters!

Yesterday, my 5 year old suggested we just “ask” the supermarkets to stop using plastic! So simple! But WOW! So…I did just that! A seed was planted! Who knows where this fire in the belly may lead? She now knows that her ideas…can impact change in the bigger world! And I love that! She did NOT learn that on a superficial level! She owned that! It was HER learning…NOT my curriculum!

Stay tuned as I feel a part 2 coming on! That’s all for now…but it’s not “all”.

homeschooling · Life Skills · natural learning · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

Learning is Everywhere! Just turn your attention to it!

This week was full! We did a letter drop which was great for some exercise and number learning (letterbox numbers) for miss 5! We went to story time at our library, read lots of awesome books from local authors. We love that about our library!

After going to the pool, miss 5 asked about chlorine as we washed it off at home. This lead to some chemistry “youtubing” and a science themed night (by her choice). We read about the planets and the next day, we “researched” insects upon her request too.

She learned all about cockroaches and mosquitos. When her Dad got home, I overheard her telling him ALL about them! It was a proud moment. Such enthusiasm! You can’t “enforce” that! It is self driven. I just LOVE it!

We then had our unschooling group at the Sanctuary which was a beautiful day of endless play. Imaginations ran wild at the playground which was awesome to watch! We got to enjoy feeding the birds and us mamas got to hold! It was all about “experience” which I feel so strongly about as being such a driving force behind learning!

Loads of questions come up as we observe wildlife and it’s habitats as we roam around the Sanctuary. See, all of this learning, immersion, observation and experience of the week, was organic, not pushed one little bit. Just a part of life! This is how I see learning! In fact, for SO LONG, I had been wanting my little girl to be “into” David Attenborough! However, last night…finally as we flopped down on the couch after a massive week, We watched “The Blue Planet”.

We loved it! After many invitations to watch his documentaries, to no avail…we finally got to (much to my excitement). And the girls fell asleep in my arms on the couch together watching it! I didn’t move them til I was finished watching it:) I didn’t want to move!

From the Blue Planet, to “The Deep”…I was in AWE! And it was TV! See, in my eyes…you can’t STOP learning! It’s part of living! One doesn’t come without the other! Amongst all this, we baked a lot this week! The girls didn’t always get involved but when they did, it was enjoyed and by choice…with enthusiasm.

They built cubbies, tipis, sand castle, block towers and had water play. Between all that was lots of messy art. And with all the stress I see some parents admit to feeling around pressures to perform as home educators, I want to be a reminder. That you don’t need to create learning! You just need to welcome and be present to it! It just HAPPENS! You can’t stop it! I hope that helps you stop stressing!

Would love to hear how you observe learning in your children! Even watching the seasons roll by…there’s SO much wisdom being absorbed…sometimes hard to see until much later! So don’t forget that either! Much like seeds growing in the soil…sometimes you can’t see it for some time!

homeschooling · Life Skills · natural learning · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

Keeping it simple – Life Lessons & Natural Learning

We were doing a letter drop today in our local area for our business. That’s when it dawned on me how easy and simple learning can and should be! Instead of jamming facts down the throat of children, we could be simply exposing them to the language of life (numbers and letters) naturally. As we put our postcards in mailboxes, I was speaking out the letterbox numbers. There was no pressure for my 5 year old to pay attention or learn them. Just exposing her.

I figure this is a way for her to learn visually and see the relevance of numbers. Yesterday was also a great example of natural learning when we went to the pool! Of her own accord, our 5 year old asked about Chlorine and specifically asked to “research it”.

So…we did a little “youtubing” and watched a few chemistry experiments too. Last night we carried on with the science theme as she chose her bedtime stories. She selected the solar system space book and was interested in learning all about the planets. As I love Astrology, I have frequently dropped seeds along the way…however this was all her curiosity. I was pleasantly surprised as there have been many occasions where I have offered up the topic without her showing interest. So I don’t push.

I just feel it is a much nicer way of going about learning when it can be far more “absorbed” by choice as opposed to rigidly enforced just because. One of my favourite ways to offer learning is through not just play but observation. Just by being involved in and surrounded by the things we are doing as a family, such as food growing…I feel our children will take in a lot.

Being in the garden, literally JUST BEING in it…is something I feel the children can learn SO much from! If they are going to discover self sufficiency then they will do so with an understanding of just how much it takes! How much presence and patience, for one.

I’m philosophical and I feel you can learn a lot from gardening, which is why I’m so grateful for having that as a learning tool around our home. For anyone questioning their ability to “deliver” a home education for their children…liken that notion to that of “delivering” a baby! The baby plays a vital role of instigating it’s own birth! You don’t actually “deliver”…education is natural and a part of life!

We just need to get out of it’s way most of the time! Observe, make the environment “conducive”, turn down distraction, build a strong connection and use your intuition!

homeschooling · Life Skills · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

The Beauty of Home Education

Because most people go to school, you will most often hear only of the benefits of going to school, so I’m here to champion home education! Because, given most people in fact “were” schooled…it can be hard to have faith in yourself to do something so huge without “being directed what to do” all the time…as you are in school.

See, the big thing I want to say upfront is… school does not equal education. Going to school, does not amount to education. School and teaching are different to learning and education! They may take place together but they don’t always! See, one…is being done “to you”, while the other, you take ownership of! Very different things!

I want to take a moment to share some of the reasons and inspirations behind WHY I choose to home educate. Because not many people understand it, because it’s not very common. I get that. I understand. What I want people to understand is…my inspiration for home ed / unschooling is … choosing something VERY different to what I see!

I don’t want my children to be “normal”, like everyone else. I am NOT bringing them up solely to “get a job”…Gosh! I want WAY MORE than just that for them! I see the possibility for an entrepreneur, someone who does something that HASN’T been done before! So in my eyes…why limit my children to just “getting a job”???

Why I’m so grateful for unschooling, natural learning, home education or whatever you prefer to call it, is…

The time with my children…not being rushed. I grateful I won’t be losing that couple of hours a day packing a lunch box and school bag! I also truly grateful my children will be wearing whatever they want too.

I am grateful for home education giving me the ability to be the one “modelling” for my children…how to “do life”, with LOVE. See, I don’t know where a teacher has come from and what attitudes they will show up in the class room with! What I do know is that my attitudes and insights in life have served me enormously!

My greatest accomplishment will be the “gratitude” I impart onto my children as I instil it as an essential foundation for fulfilment in life! How do I know that that one single fundamental learning will be offered to my children in a classroom lead by a stranger???

One of the best things I feel home education offers is…the possibility for random, organic and DEEP connections we make as we weave in and out of each others spheres throughout the day. The most beautiful aspects of home education for me is that message that is communicated to my children that they are more than what other’s perceive them to be. More than a mark or a grade and much more than a report card or test result!

My wish for them is that they learn that their voice matters and that they have control over their lives, freedom to choose and the right to be respected. What I do not want for them is a learned dependance on an authority figure to direct them when, what, where and how to think!

I am grateful to be here with my children for the thousands of hours instead of not knowing what they are going through. I grateful to be their greatest example… Not someone I do not know. How can that be a promise of joy for my children? That is my greatest purpose in home education! My children’s fulfilment!

homeschooling · Life Skills · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

Birds of a Feather Fly Together

Please stop saying how important “socialisation” is for children and how that’s the important thing about school! My beautiful homeschooled (unschooled) friend messaged me today with yet another mention of this common misconception from a nosey stranger when learning of her homeschooled child.

Do people even KNOW who they’re sending their children to school to “socialise” with??? I mean STOP, pause and PONDER THAT for a moment! Just a moment! Do you know that old saying “Birds of a feather fly together”? Well I feel it comes in very handy right about now! First…the teachers firmly insist that class is NOT for socialising! Children must wait until the bell rings to say it’s lunch time to be free to chat (with their mouths full;)

I love the birds of a feather saying, because it’s a stark reminder of just how influential the company you keep can be! And besides, why on earth would you want to send a child to school for the sake of being “normal” and like everyone else? I for one, don’t actually care for that! What is normalised for your family, is not what is normalised in mine and that to me is perfectly ok, in fact honouring of nature…in being perfectly uniquely “you”, true to YOUR family!

See this socialisation thing bothers me. I want to play a part in the company my child keeps while so vulnerable and young because you don’t get that time back! When you send your child to school, you have zero control over who they are surrounded by each day for the most part of the week and year/s! Get your head around that!

When you are living life WITH your children, you can be there to help them understand the world, digest it, unpack it and process it in ways that prevent your children from carrying subconscious baggage from unknown sources that potential hinder their confidence and clarity.

I just thought I would bring this up, because I for one have had enough! The “socialisation” concept of schooling is like the herd immunity concept for vaccination! It’s nonsense! What if…I don’t want my children to become immersed in what is now becoming so normalised? What if I want something else for my children? What if my vision is vastly different for my children to that is society’s definition of “normal”?

Ponder that for a moment. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Life Skills · natural learning · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

When the bell rings

What does it teach a student to have most of their time directed by a bell, dictating when to change focus, attention, activity, seats or classrooms? Is it a subtle suggestion that you are not the governor of your own destiny? Does this bell directed life offer insight into how to go deeper into learning, uncovering your own discoveries?

Or does it teach you to wait for direction, not to bother going too deep, for time will soon be up. For you will soon be directed elsewhere by a higher authority over you. Does this teach you to accept that authority easily? Does the bell that rings every so often, teach you to follow the crowd, be directed, not to lead your own quest, not to question?

I wonder, when that bell rings, what is the higher purpose to it? If one is not entrusted to govern their own learning, what does this teach them about trusting themselves? When interrupted by a bell before going too deep, how much deeper learning can truly take place? If one finds themselves truly inspired to learn, and suddenly are told to move on, what does this teach them about how much their values matter in this world?

What if the next class “subject” has little relevance to you? How does it relate to you? Why are subjects taught in isolation rather than in relationship to one another in real life settings? Why are schools mostly in age segregated classrooms? How then is one able to learn from a variety of life experiences if they only have peers of the same age?

How are students to learn how to self regulate and be self driven if they are hardly given the opportunity, being told what to do for so much of their life? How is one to become independent if they are constantly taught to depend on instructions from an authority? What does this do for their confidence? How much creativity can come from merely being able to search for a predetermined answer, in order to be graded in a competitive pressured environment?

How are we to learn if we are taught not to question he “fill in the blank” test papers from rote memorisation. How are we to learn the art of self directed learning and the birth right of autonomy, if we are hardly given the opportunity to. These are just a few questions that enter my mind when I think of the school bell. What do you think it teaches? I’m open to learning;)

Life Skills · Parenting · Unschooling · World schooling

Sacrifice – To make Sacred

To sacrifice is to make sacred. The question is often asked, “how does a family afford the privilege of homeschooling?” This is a great question and one that I am driven to be creative around, especially being a minimalist.

I am a firm believer in the importance of sustainability and being waste wise. This means in financial ways too. I work from home and we have our own business so we have not completely made a sacrifice of a whole income no…but we do manage our working hours around our children and are continually looking for better ways to minimise working “around” our children!

Some of the ways we reduce our expenses that have helped us a lot include!

  • Not spending money on hairdressing
  • Mostly eating at home and making most meals from scratch
  • Buying bulk cleaning products including laundry powder, dish liquid (we use Abode)
  • DIY cleaning sprays using vodka, water and essential oil.
  • Buying bulk whole foods like nuts, dried fruit, baking goods
  • Cloth nappies and elimination communication (saving nappies)
  • Op shopping in advance for children’s clothes (bigger sizes)
  • Not buying new, opting for second hand wherever possible & healthy
  • Composting to reduce household waste by an estimated 50% (read Waste Not) – saving on fertiliser for the garden
  • Taking a thermos to playgroups or outings with hot tea (minimise single use coffee cup landfill) or take a keep cup
  • Use a jar with rubber bands around it for a keep cup rather than buying new

There are many ways you can become more frugally sustainable in the pursuit of making homeschool less financially stressful.

I feel that If you understand the value of homeschooling and it’s right for you, then you will make it happen. You will find a way! We have not had a single day of childcare in 5 years and we actually feel this saves us money. Why? Well…we don’t mind buying a once off piece of children’s furniture here and there to make our home more child friendly.

The way we see it, we are still ahead, saving far more on childcare expenses…not that we could do childcare even if we wanted to, as we have a “no jab no play” legislation in Victoria. And we wouldn’t vaccinate just to be able to use childcare or for some extra money anyway. We have too many reasons we choose not to vaccinate that it’s absolutely not worth it (the risk) in our eyes.

Other ways we save money for this is by growing food, not buying packaged food very much and when we do, we commit to recycling everything possible! We avoid using more than we need of any/all resources and certainly avoid buying new at all costs! We are not perfect. There are times when our children grow so fast that we forgot to op shop in time or found the op shops just didn’t have what our little ones needed.

There have been a few times I forgot my keep cup and didn’t bring a drink on the run, since becoming more waste conscious. But hey, even Greta has been seen eating packaged take away food! Just being honest.

We do our best with the time we have and we are working towards doing “less”. We feel this really helps keep unwanted stress at bay. I would love to know your cost and time savers.

If you’re a homeschooler, how do you make it happen? What creative ways do you have that help reduce financial pressure? Share your thoughts. I would love to have more of a conversation around this!