We started learning at home in 1998- actually I made the girls do diagnostic testing, bought their books and get started on them in December, 1997. How do I remember this? Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my mother’s graduation. It is 10 years since she passed away and went to be with the Lord. John and I had been investigating the notion of homeschooling for over 6 months and had taken the appropriate steps to start in January. My mother died on December 14, and we traveled interstate to take her body to her hometown for burial and to be with my Dad. We stayed with him, in my childhood home, until the New Year but it was over the Christmas break that I started homeschooling the girls. Two days after my Mum’s funeral the girls were hard at their workbooks! Now when I mention how keen, eager and enthusiastic I was I hope you’ll believe me! 🙄
💡 However, I really don’t consider that we have never parented in a home-based-learning way. Even though ‘Miss A’ went to school for Kindergarten and year 1, she had to come home every night and I would help her with spelling, reading, memory work and maths. Actually, it was this that made me even start thinking of learning at home. I couldn’t understand what on earth they did at school all day, if after being there for 6 hours she still needed even more work at home, when she was tired! There had to be a better way!
Hmm, I’m not really making a point in this post, am I? I guess I don’t really have a point. I have been thinking a lot about how the home education movement in Australia has changed and is now again, changing. As a 10 year homeschooler, I can see that there are positive changes but there are also some not-so positive ones. These changes affect everything from the overall movement and homeschool communities to the grass root level of a mother teaching her children at home.
There is so much curricula and so many resources available nowadays. Actually, it’s almost gluttonous! I remember the absolute joy and ecstatic, bubbliness that welled inside me when I found another Christian homeschooler, Anna from Fountain resources. Anna kindly lent me a few books and I couldn’t believe that someone, somewhere, had written a book on homeschooling! Now I know some of you might find that ridiculous (that I thought that way) but believe me when I tell you that books and resources were not that easy to come by 10 years ago, in Australia.
I remember when upon finding a good living book that we (a few other homeschoolers that I knew via snail mail) would share it around fervently, handling it as though it were gold. Those of us on email groups or printed family newsletters would delightedly share our latest good book finds and that book might end up going on a tour of Australia, as it was posted from one family to the next!
I remember when Anna told me she could order in a particular book for me! Whohoo! but it would take about 3 months to come in by boat. Did I care? No way. Three months was a long time but there was no other option. I had to learn to be patient, unlike these days when I can place an order and have it on my doorstep within 4 days. So I just waited and kept on with the marvelous task of teaching and discipling my little children, and getting together occasionally for a joyous afternoon with another family. Then the book arrived! Oh voi, what a happy mama I was! But you know what was really interesting? That book was not at all in keeping with my teaching style, nor my children’s learning style. But guess what? It didn’t matter! I used it anyway, because I was learning along with the children! I taught them using the book and just modified it to suit. Easy peasy. Nowadays though, one can purchase resources that are only suited toward a particular denomination and learning style and still own way too much! There’s just so much available, it isn’t funny. Yet in all this latest and greatest have I spent more or less time with my children? Am I learning to teach my children where they are at, which involves really knowing my children?
I remember that the idea of a field trip or excursion didn’t even enter my mind. All I knew was that I continued on with my jobs and the children naturally came everywhere with me. They saw me in action, living my life, learning about the world as we lived. After a few years, and a few more homeschoolers entered the scene, talk started of organising excursions. So we did…and I did. We went to the local Fire Station and the Police Station and a few other places like that. I found myself getting a little frustrated when the children would ask questions about the Police or Fire brigade, instead asking them, “Didn’t you listen when we were there?” or “Wait until next week when we visit the Police Station. You’ll find out then.” How sad is that? I taught my children to compartmentalise their learning and not to come to me with every little concern and question.Moving on from that can you guess what the very next issue to arise was then? Yup, socialisation: when, where, how, and with whom were the questions. Hmmm, maybe I should have asked myself WHY.
I remember the homeschool get togethers, with people from various walks of life: Christian, non Christian, Catholic, secular, Australian and foreign. Nowadays, there are so many splinter groups depending on country, religion, age, gender, learning style, and many other divisive issues that we have really lost a lot of valuable sharing and information. Oh, I know it’s good to talk to others who are like minded but I remember the specialness of when that would happen. Often now, sadly, it seems like we expect it to be ‘the norm’.
Hmmmm, as a movement in Australia, I wonder how much we have gained in the last 10 years. How much have we lost? I’d love to hear your thoughts regardless if you feel differently to me, or the same.