Today’s question comes from Michelle who writes a blog at “A Vision Splendid“. I believe that Michelle began to blog around a year earlier than I did. Anyway, here is the email, with her permission.
“Hi Gavin and Kim,
Just wondering how the homeschooling is going ? We are seriously considering this option for our boys ( now almost 11 and 14). It seems like such a natural progression in the lifestyle path we have taken.
I have spent today talking to other homeschooling families, one in particular who now has two sons in uni and others still at home learning in a rich environment. These families started from the ‘beginning’ though so could not talk to me about the transition from school to home.
I was therefore hoping ( if you had the time) you could let me know of your thoughts on the transition and whether you have met any other homeschooling families around your area.
thanks in advance
Now I did reply to Michelle, however if anyone else has had home schooling experience, I would love to hear how your transition went, for Kim and my benefit. It would also help Michelle make up her mind as well. So here is my answer.
The home schooling is going very well. We took Ben back a grade so he has consolidated for this month and will be starting year 7 work in a few weeks. The curriculum that we are using is from http://www.homeschooling.com.au/ which is set about two years ahead of mainstream ed so we started him off on what they call year 4. Our eldest daughter is a year 7 & 8 high school teacher so she knows where they are up to in mainstream education and we believe that year 4 in this curriculum is equivalent to year 6/7. We took the time to met Valerie at the homeschool place a few times now when we tested Ben and picked up the material. She wrote most of the books and we think they are quite good and easy to follow most of the time, and is quite the advocate for home schooling. She also taught all of her children at home. With the books, at least the answers are in the back (which we ripped out and hid) for those of use who went to school a very long time ago. 😉
Kim teaches Ben from 9am to 1.30pm on the 3R’s, spelling, social studies (history, geography), and languages. After lunch he does art/home subjects, like drawing, painting, modelling, cooking and baking. I get to teach him gardening, animal husbandry, and DIY on weekends, and every second Wednesday, I take him on an excursion that relates to one of his subjects for that week
As for Ben adjusting, he was a bit of a loner at primary school with only a few friends so he has adjusted very well. He is racing ahead of where he should be with this one on one attention and we can add in subjects as we see fit and according to our values. He loves it, as does Kim, because even with her mild MS, when she has a bad day with fatigue, she can set him some work and explain anything he doesn’t understand. He also does school work when he is sick! Also I get to spend some great time with him during the excursions, and now I feel like I am part of his growing up and a larger contributor to his education instead of being just a bystander and an observer of the process.
As for socialisation, he sees his friends more now after school than he did before, and has quality time with them. He also actively participates in workshops and events we hold for our sustainable living group, like the worm farm workshop I just wrote about. We haven’t met any other home school families in our area, however, one of our friends also enquired about the process regarding registration here in Victoria. Talk about influencing others in a short amount of time!
Hope this helps, and I really could not recommend it highly enough, if you are disgruntled with mainstream education, and have the time, or want to enhance your boys education with lots of sustainable living topic that are unheard of in our schools today.
Gav & Kim
I have no experience with homeschooling…but from what I’ve read I gather most who have experienced it wholeheartedly endorse it. It’s certainly an excellent alternative to public schooling…which I’m gathering has problems worldwide! I applaud you and all parents who make this giant leap to provide your children/young people with a more relevant education!
We’re in the US. I have five children – two of whom attended public school. My oldest (and only boy) graduated from public school. My oldest daughter (who is now an adult) was homeschooled starting when she was fourteen.
It was not an easy transition, but for a lot of reasons that weren’t related to schooling and wouldn’t necessarily be applicable to others. She was new to our area when she started homeschooling, but had been pretty popular at her old school – in another State. So, because she was homeschooling, she didn’t have a lot of opportunities to meet other kids her age, and the initial experience, for her, was very isolating.
With regard to academic work, I am a school-teacher by training, and I developed a curriculum for her. She did the work, but only half-heartedly. Much of the work was independent study work, and she would procrastinate and then halfway do the project just under the “due date.” It was very frustrating for both of us, because the goal was not that she do the project, but that she learn something. So we ended up scrapping the whole lesson plan for the last six weeks of that first year, and she read books – about fifteen in six weeks with one-third of the books she read being “assigned” reading.
In our experience, what my daughter needed was an opportunity to “deschool”, which is a term that’s used to describe the period of time a student needs to get out of the habits and attitudes they established during their school careers. In subsequent years, we enrolled her in classes, both online and through our local homeschool community. She remained a voracious reader throughout her homeschooling time, and when she was sixteen, we enrolled her in the Early Study Program through our State University system, and she started taking college classes. She also took flight lessons and learned to fly an airplane, and she worked part-time in the Tax Assessor’s office in a local town where she learned some administrative skills and a bit about how a government office operates.
She took the college entrance exams and scored well enough – in spite of her lack of “formal” classes – to be accepted into one of the top aviation colleges in the US (Embry-Riddle).
She “graduated” from homeschool in 2006, but we are currently homeschooling our three younger daughters (ages 9 to 14). Over the years, we’ve taken a more relaxed, life-centric approach to their educations and, now, fall firmly in the philosophy of “unschooling”, which fits really well with our overall lifestyle. My daughters choose their activities based on their interests, and my husband and I find them materials and/or classes to feed those interests.
Just like you, Gavin, we’ve found that we spend a lot of time just interacting with our girls, and they are an integral part of everything we do. We’re able to organize classes for them, like the nature skills class that we all participated in, or the literature class (Dystopian futures in fiction) that I’ll be teaching for my teen daughter and other homeschoolers. We are extremely involved with what our girls are doing – in ways we couldn’t be if they went to school full-time, and it’s an incredibly enriching experience for our whole family. At this point, I can’t imagine doing things differently. I think we’ve all been positively influenced by our decision to homeschool :).
Although I did not home school my son, there is a long history of home schooling in this part of Canada going back at least 100 years. I have friends who are currently home-schooling and others who have home-schooled and their kids have chosen to go to school at about age 12. Needless to say, they were well ahead of the other kids when they got to school.
When Canada was looking for immigrants 100 years ago, in order to attract the Mennonites who were being persecuted in Russia, the government of the day promised them freedom to educate their children in their own religious way and freedom from the military. Although most Mennonite kids go to the regular state schools there are still a lot who might be classed as more extreme who still want to give a religious education.
Our Provincial dept of Education has a home school curriculum but it has to be purchased. Unfortunately the religious curriculums offered by various religious groups in the USA are considerably cheaper with the result that most buy these instead. God is on every page including mathematics and of course evolution is never mentioned. Creationism or intelligent design!! (I would love to tell you about Bishop Ussher, but that is another story. Ask if you like).
In spite of this the homeschoolers do organize joint outings to museums, nature reserves, swimming etc etc which gives some degree of socialization. My neighbor on the other hand homeschooled his 3 kids and they are the most shy introverted people I have ever met. They have no conversation and do not know how to behave when in company of anyone other than their parents. They are currently 19, 21 and 25. None has a job and all are on welfare – including the parents. Another near neighbor and very good friend home schools her 3 children (unfortunately with a religious syllabus) but they are very social going out or entertaining 3 or 4 times every week. They have converted their dining room to the school room and the kids do their school work as a matter of course without the need for pressure of threats from mum. Their socialization is excellent. They read A LOT and their hand writing is proper.
So as you can see there are all levels from good to terrible. The difference with the good ones is that the kids behave like young adults rather than children which I think is admirable.
I would say as long as you are fully committed to 9 – 12 and 1 – 3, follow the syllabus and make sure they are properly socialized they will turn out very well.
we did’t home school our children but have friends who home schooled their boys for all their schooling. The boys went to university after their home schooling.
They did have their boys go through cubs and scouts which is where we came into contact with them and that helped a lot with making friends for them
My two girls grew up on a sailboat as we traveled around the world, so homeschooling was a necessity. I always say that teaching kids to love to read is the essential ingredient. After that they search out knowledge. When we traveled through Australia we got a couple of years of the Aussie home schooling courses – and boy you guys are lucky – it is the best in the world! There were a couple of stints where they went to a local school for a short while, and then went full time for the last 4 and 2 years respectively. That was in America, and they both won full grade based scholarships for both their bachelors and masters degrees and are currently working on their doctorates.
We began homeschooling at the beginning of last year, when our daughter was 13 and had just completed Yr 7. We originally intended to kind of repeat Yr 7 as she was behind in a lot of subjects, but we’ve been able to catch up with most so she’s doing the equivalent of Yr 9 work in most subjects this year.
We don’t follow a prescribed curriculum, we’re using different resources based on our preferences, eg: Saxon Maths, Apologia Science, EIW and Easy Grammar Ultimate series etc.
It’s been an interesting experience, and I couldn’t have done it without online and personal support of other homeschooling parents.
One thing I do love about it is being able to purchase software at discounted prices – as our daughter is studying IT and also doing photography (part of her Art course) we’ve ended up purchasing Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom at the educational discount rate. You can buy them from here http://www.studentdiscounts.com.au/ or the Adobe programs direct from them (can download the programs too) http://www.adobe.com/education/students.edu.html?showEduReq=no
Someone told me that I would change how we teach several times over the first year or so, and it’s so true. The way we started has changed – for the better – several times. We’re much more relaxed about the learning now, and see learning happening in day to day life rather than having to be intentionally taught.
It’s one of the best decisions that we’ve made.
My motto is ‘horses for courses’. Children are all different therefore some learn better in the structured school environment and others do best with one:one tutoring and support. Home schooling is a great option for children who find learning in a large classroom difficult for whatever reason. I also don’t agree that schools ‘socialise’ all children well. Many a child is marginalised and bullied and only encounters negative experiences. Socialisation can occur through different means ie joining scouts, sporting group, interest group etc. I know because our child has had 11 years of difficulties learning in a classroom and fitting in socially at school. What a mistake it was that I did not have the knowledge and courage to try home schooling.