"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." - Aristotle
This is a quote that I try to live by.
As adults we are drawn to educate ourselves of that which we are passionate about. Whether homeschooling or not, this is no different for children and helping them explore their interests from a young age instills a love for learning and sees them blossom as humans. We are drawn to our passions because they are our calling, we should try to follow them.
Digging for DIY dinosaur fossils - tutorial & PDF template on the resources page.
I invite you to an insight in how we personally homeschool as I discuss this subject and answer some questions we have received.
Don't Stress - You've got this!
Doubting your ability, feeling like you're lacking skill set or qualifications? Don't know where to start even though it feels like all you've been doing is researching?
One of the most important points to be mindful of as you take hold of confidence in your ability, is that from day one you have already been a teacher. Since the beginning you have been educating your child and your child has been teaching you as well. This doesn't change in a homeschool setting. You learn together along the journey.
Your children will see that adults do not know everything and are learning too, that it is okay to start from somewhere small.
My advice is to start with ease. The great thing is, there's no one way to homeschool. There's many styles and it looks different for everyone. You do not need to stress about replicating a school or classroom setting. You are provided with an opportunity to create your own space for learning, let it be magical and personalised, whatever that looks like for your family.
Connect with other home schoolers. Search online for your nearest home schooling groups and reach out. Don't be scared if your children aren't up to registration age yet. There's a range of home educators with children of multiple age groups where you can still be a part of the fun and learn from others about the registration requirements in your state/country. These groups will be one of your biggest support networks because they understand what it is all about.
You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on resources and supplies. Choose your selection based on what will be used often, what will bring your child joy, enrich their lives and purchase with intent.
Scrapbooking letters are an open-ended resource that can be used again and again.
Your family's journey is your own, not others.
Unfortunately at one point or another people get confronted with disapproval and judgement in their decision to home educate, simply because in society's mind it isn't the done thing.
What's important to remember is that others opinions do not define you and negative views on home education usually come from people that are uninformed and don't actually understand how wonderful it can be. People tend to be scared of what they don't understand and it gets masked with an obdurate front in some cases.
Occasionally there's a horror story of home schooled children in the news and like a restaurant review, the bad review often sticks with people more than the good ones.
The best way to break the stigmas attached to homeschooling and help society open their minds, is for them to see the positive impact it has on your children's lives and your family dynamic. Don't bite back in defense, share insight with compassion.
If you do have family and friends that are unsupportive, seek support elsewhere. It is out there and it will welcome you with open arms!
Remember that other people's issues are within themselves and not you. Keep doing what is best for family.
Don't feel like you need to compare yourself or the content you're providing your children with, to other families. Do what feels best for your children and let that shine! You aren't here to impress, you're here to enrich your child's life. Inspire and be inspired in the process.
Why did we choose to home educate our children?
Initially it was my husbands request and knowing little of the process, I was hesitant. (Scared of what we don't know)
I researched it with an open mind and the more I read, the more it just made sense. We have never looked back with regret in our decision and could never imagine going down another path. It just feels natural.
I had dealt with bullying in school and my husband was severely bullied. It’s something neither of us want our children to suffer through.
The main reasons we chose home education are:
- Mental Health - We want our children to go through their development with a positive self-worth and growth mindset. They are able to recognise that is it okay to make mistakes, that it is normal and we learn from them. We want them to learn with passion, not anxiety and stress. We want them to feel comfortable within themselves and recognise that they are their own human beings, not to be ashamed of who they are or feel the need to compare themselves to others. They are happy and free to be themselves.
- Bullying - Hand-in-hand with mental health. Our children still experience bullying, in small doses. Whether it be at a playground, a social event or witnessing it from others. Bullying is a huge problem in schools and unfortunately schools just aren't equipped to handle the issue, it's too big for them.
- Family Connection - Our family bonds are beautiful. Our children do not have to be separated from each other during the day. They are best friends as well as siblings. They get to experience learning together as well as on their own individual journeys. We are blessed to be able to guide our children through their education and build amazing memories with them that we would otherwise not have.
- An Enriched Life - We want our children to learn about the world by being out in it. As much as we can read books and watch documentaries, we also have the freedom to travelschool and explore different locations, to experience different cultures and meet people from all walks of life.
- Moral Structure and Emotional Intelligence - We want our children to feel the kind of connection a school cannot provide and through that guide them into compassionate, polite and empathetic human beings. Providing a safe space for them to learn how important all their emotions are, the roles they play, why they are feeling them and how to embrace and be mindful of them. I link this with moral structure because you will often see in society, people saying that kids these days need more discipline and many who suggest that there is an epidemic of rude children due to the lack of action such as smacking. It's my personal belief however, that it is quite the opposite. Children are not lacking discipline - they are lacking connection in a society that is SO disconnected from one another in general.
- Interest-led Learning - We want our children to be able to explore their passions at their hearts content and delve as deep as they'd like into the subjects that take their fancy without set criteria with expectations testing them.
How Home Education works for our Family
We aim for flowing, peaceful learning with intent. Our style is eclectic, with the core being nature-based and holistic. We do not follow any one curriculumn but take inspiration from Reggio Emilia, Charlotte Mason and Waldor paedology the most.
We are out in nature a lot and if we aren't out in it, we are certainly incorporating it into our learning and crafts at home and opt for an outdoor classroom as much as possible, in our backyard. Being lovers of conservation I recognise that one of the best ways to guide my children to caring for the planet is by helping them develop a relationship with it.
We are protective of that which we love and we hold that love because of our relationships.
We do not run on a tight schedule but we do try to place a routine.
We have a weekly rhythm that works well for us. I have a guide of activities I set out for each week and allocated days for particular subjects. If something doesn't work out on one day, I shuffle it to another. We don't always get every activity done but that's okay because our learning is daily, everywhere.
We have meet ups with classes specific to children in our homeschool group every week such as Lego club, park play and gymnastics as well as any other events that pop up or arranged meet ups.
I record everything that is done in my planner and use a weekly habit tracker concept for KLAs(Key Learning Areas) - listing all the KLAs with the days of the week and checking of which ones are covered each day for a visual guide of how we are going. I aim for lessons and activities that cover multiple KLAs.
Cooking is a very loved activity that can cover a range of KLAs including math, history, technologies, science and art.
We do not take weekends and school holidays off. We tried this approach and didn't like it. It felt unnatural and my children still wanted to be doing their activities. Our learning is gentle and constant. If we need a break, we take it. It might be one day, a couple of days, a week. As a family we are attuned to know when this is needed and it comes naturally to refresh ourselves.
Every now and then we will Travelschool - home schooling on the road. We take a small amount of supplies (nothing that won't get used or take up too much space) and use the nature around us during our travels as our biggest resource. We've been away for up to 5.5weeks at a time learning this way and the places we visit along the way, such as museums, wildlife sanctuaries, and the natural discovering through exploration teach the most.
Our eldest has always had an interest in caring for animals so when we are traveling one of the first things I do is research any wild life sanctuaries or animal hospitals that are in the area.
How do you educate your children of different age groups, together?My children are 7, 4 and almost 3. A lot of the time it is really easy to find activities that they can all do together, at their individual levels. As my eldest grows she will do her own activities while my youngest two do something else such as art or play and vice versa. They all get one-on-one learning and play as well as group learning.
Other times I will make a spread across our table on our deck so they can move freely between activities as they please.
How do you cope if things are feeling hectic?
Some child-friendly ideas:
- Flower blend and crystal baths
- Take them on one-on-one dates out doing something they enjoy
- Make some popcorn and have a movie night - their pick!
- Go on a trip into nature
- Let them just be and play - ask to join in
- Pamper together with a natural home made facial mask
- Cosmic Kids yoga or guided meditation
- Reshuffle their room or play spaces for them - sometimes things simply feeling refreshed and new makes us feel good.
Busting Myths (that we are often asked about)
Socialisation - It's often thought that if a child is homeschooled, they are never seeing the light of day or interacting with humans outside of their house. It's completely the opposite. They interact with people everywhere they go, of all ages and in this their social interaction is more authentic and broad. There's still a lot of people who aren't aware that there are big homeschool communities where children form strong friendships and play together regularly.
"They won't be equipped with the experience to handle bullies" - The idea that children must be bullied in order to be okay in the world is truly disheartening and yet it's something I've heard and read often.
Why do some feel that we need to be broken in order to be built up strong for a good life?
That it is okay and normal to be made to feel small and shamed for being ourselves because we will have already had an upsetting childhood so how worse could adulthood get?
Did these people have horrible childhood experiences and feel that because they survived, their children will too? Were they bullies and don't get the receiving end perspective?
There's many who do not survive the ordeal of bullying.
Our childhoods have a huge psychological impact on the people we become later in life. It is not a trivial issue.
Let me just tell you also, children don't need to go to school to be bullied or understand what it is. It is everywhere, from all ages.
The difference with bullying in a school and home education setting is that it is able to be dealt with straight away in a safe space where punishment is not the answer - education on compassion and empathy is. The confidence to tell another person that "Hey, I don't like the way you are treating me. It's not very nice and it hurts my feelings, please don't do it again." Telling another person why their actions or words are not okay. Being able to leave the situation if that person doesn't listen but also being aware that there isn't anything wrong with themselves that the other person is having struggles in their own life. On the flip side also being considerate of others not to say or do anything to hurt their feelings.
How to deal with feeling frustrated at others etc. There's connection and emotional intelligence happening instead of hostile school conflict, anxiety, poor self-worth and even feeling isolated.
"Are you a teacher/do you have qualifications to teach them?" - Well if teaching my children to walk, talk, use a toilet, read, count, write etc isn't the beginning of my list of qualifications to continue teaching them then I don't know what is. You do not need to be a formal teacher to home educate. We all start from somewhere and no one is better qualified to understand and teach your own children than you. You are attuned to their needs.
"Don't you get stick of always having your children around?" - Call me crazy but I love having my children around. The average child in Australia spends 1,300 hours per year in school, that's 16,900 hours of their schooling life (not including preschool), that I would miss out on. Life is precious and I feel completely grateful and blessed to be on a journey where we are able to have that time together. It doesn't mean that I never have me time.
Things We Do
- Nature study and journaling
- Hiking/walks in nature
- Music Basket
- Perpetual Calendar
- Outdoor & park play
- Workbooks (particular themes of interest and math)
- Board games and puzzles
- Story telling
- Loose parts and small world play
- Yoga and meditation
- Poetry tea time
- Readers, flash cards and spelling games
- Lego club
- Story time
- STEM activities and various experiments
- Various pop up workshops and experiences
- Handwork (such as sewing, french knitting)
- Shopping (involving children in the process of purchasing food and goods invites learning opportunity such as math)
Berry picking with our homeschool friends.
- Museums, art galleries and science institutes
- Wild life sanctuaries, open range zoos and animal hospitals
- Books, fact cards and flash cards
- Theatres and entertainment centres
- Board games and Jigsaw puzzles
- Tracing boards, wooden letters and number/symbols disks
- A variety of arts and crafts supplies
- Musical instruments (bells, percussion, guitar, bongos etc)
- Whole Beings (online holistic education program)
- Internet (Youtube, google, pinterest, Instagram and informative websites)
- Documentaries, movies and shows with educational points (such as Brain Child and The Magic Schoolbus)
- Volunteer Opportunities
- National Geographic Kids
- Workbooks (my children enjoy math and topic books. My 4 year old actively selects her own english workbooks)
- Letters from Afar
- Workshops (bushcrafts, permaculture)
- Local events and classes (ballet, gymnastics, swimming, wild flora and fauna talks, wild life exposure, multicultural events and cooking classes)
- Playgrounds and parks
- Open to public - farms and orchards
Thank you for reading and I hope this has been helpful. If you have any more questions or would like to see a bit more of our home education journey, you can pop over to www.instagram.com/deerandfawns
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