I have been homeschooling my daughter for just over two years now, and as the second term of 2017 comes to an end, I reflect back on our time. It has honestly been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have seen my daughter’s self-esteem and happiness escalate, and she confidently looks people in the eye when talking. She has joined the RSL Commemorative Youth Choir, and sung at Government House and taken part in camps. She has acted in plays and film, taken part in many social groups, and knows what she wants to do, and how to get there. The parents and kids we have met whilst home schooling are friendly and welcoming. My daughter has re-discovered a love of learning. We try to balance workshops and trips into Sydney with days at home, hitting her workbooks and online resources. Things I have learnt are as follows:
- Parents need to trust their instincts when it comes to their child.
- I went overboard when we started, purchasing copious amounts of resources! I found I needed only a quarter of what I ordered. Streamlined educational resources are best, and my daughter certainly has her favourite online programes and workbooks.
- My daughter favours starting early, ploughing through, and finishing early.
- It helps to make a timetable each day. My girl loves to know what is coming up, and be able to tick off each task when its completed. She also loves to know the details of our outings; what time we are leaving home, who will be there, how long the classes are and what they entail.
- I add the details of what she has studied or where she has attended workshops to her year file each evening, whilst it’s fresh in my mind.
- Preparing food the evening before a big day is advisable, and saves a fortune when out and about!
- We follow the school holidays, and try to stay at home as much as possible. After a busy term, that to us is heaven! She loves catching up with her old school friends in the holidays.
- I like to go through the house after each term concludes, gathering up old resources, craft, art supplies and clothing she has grown out of. When you work in the same space in which you live, it helps to have it tidy, and keep track of what is needed in the term ahead.
- Holidays are great for slowing the pace. A sleep-in is decadent, as are lovely long walks. Home schoolers need to rest in the break.
- We chat about scheduling for the next term; what she wants to do, and where her interests are leading her. There are so many fantastic opportunities, that we have to narrow them down.
- I highly advise those who are new to home schooling in Australia to join the Home Education Association, and also if you are in Sydney, Shen.
- I make her a Vista Print school album each year, consisting of all the activities she has undertaken. It is a lovely way to commemorate her school year.
- We plan to go swimming, the movies and shopping when school is in, as it is less busy. We make up the time by rising early or spreading the work over a weekend.
This past term, she has taken part in the Australian Young People’s Theatre classes, been to several performances at the Opera House, taken professional dance classes, done lino printing, learnt about film-making, how the brain registers emotions and much more, on top of her lessons at home. There are sacrifices to be made, and it can be a costly affair. I know of parents who, after pulling their kids out of school, have had to sell their home or sacrifice a second income in order to educate their children. They do so happily, particularly after seeing the early results of their decision. I am learning as much as my daughter, and each day is a joy. I only wish we had started homeschooling sooner!