The fourth and final part of my Looking Back to our Early Days series
When I was pregnant with Josh we decided we would homeschool. It was at this time that we drove across Australia and resettled in Kununurra. I remember as we drove into town, thinking “Wouldn’t it be great to have a homeschool resource center!” I remember talking to Pete that this resource center would include things like books and education kits to share but it would also include a skills base as parents shared their skills with different families. It was a bit of a dream with no idea of how that would happen.
Then Josh became a toddler and I settled into being a mother. I then knew that the curriculum that I had chosen was not going to be right for our family. It didn’t allow for creativity and it didn’t allow for much interaction between child and mother. I know now that I could tweak it as you can tweak anything but I didn’t know that back then so we ditched the idea of homeschooling as that was the only curriculum I knew of. Obviously being involved with our children was more important than that curriculum, even more important than the idea of homeschooling.
A few years later, Nomi was a baby (Josh 3.5, Jess 2, Nomi baby) Peter and I were challenged with the idea of who was the biggest influence in our child’s life and as they grew up, who was going to be the biggest influence in their life then. We wanted it to be us. God has given the children to us with the understanding that we are to influence, shape, mould, teach and train them. We started to think about homeschooling again.
During this time, as I shared in part 1, Nomi was having medical treatment in Perth and the friend who looked after us while we were in Perth was homeschooling and she showed us a bookcase of resources that were consistent with our parent heart. How exciting – there was more out there! We started to investigate homeschooling more seriously.
After Nomi’s chemo treatment we went on a family holiday – visiting family over east. While with my folks we talked nothing but our decision to homeschool – will we or won’t we? Pros and Cons. Then Pete and I went off for 2 days, leaving the kids with the grandparents; our intention was to talk it all over and come home with a decision. We decided to homeschool. My mum and dad have been our biggest supporters in our homeschooling journey – Mum is always there for me to hash things out with – my sounding board (Thanks Mum!)
Lots of people say that God told them to homeschool and I don’t have an issue with this – in fact I’ll encourage you to remember that in those tough days when you consider giving up. But for us God didn’t tell us to as such. We have no scripture to say this is what God wanted us to do. But we certainly took it to Him and we certainly had a peace that this was right for our family. What do we fall back on during tough homeschooling times? God’s Word – but it is God’s word to us as parents that sustains me in these tough times. God’s word to me as his child. I’m not saying one is ‘better’ than the other – I’m just saying God didn’t ‘tell us’ to homeschool but we certainly know God’s blessing on our decision. Link to my website: Go to the Scriptures
Back home we knew our friends wouldn’t agree with homeschooling. But our prayer was that they would support us as friends, even if they didn’t agree with us. And they did. Ironically of the two friends who really didn’t agree they are now very supportive of their own grown up children as they take on the homeschooling journey themselves – so our friends have ended up as supportive grandparents of homeschoolers! But back at our beginning they supported us with prayer, with excursions to their farms and lessons in the kitchen or in their businesses.
Our community has generally been supportive though of course we have had those who ask the same questions every time we meet: “What about socialisation” and “Do you think they get enough competition?” To be honest, over the years these questions have disappeared as they see the fruit of the training we give our children.
One question people asked us was “for how long?” It was as if they could accept primary school but not highschool, or they thought it was a fad that I would get over. We would say ‘one year at a time’. And this was all the expectation we put on ourselves. We didn’t know where we were going, the internet and the incredible support network that exists today was only just starting and even more so in Australia. So one year at a time.
At one stage we were encouraged by a private school to put Joshua’s name on their waiting list for highschool. So we did that. We were still in the one year at a time mindset, and we didn’t know what highschool was going to look like for us. Our goal has never been to promote homeschooling but rather to continue to be that influence in their life. Each year we kept pushing that reservation back – year 8, year 9, year 10. In the end we cancelled it knowing by that stage that we would homeschool the whole way through.
At about that time Josh asked me as he saw his peers leaving town for boarding school, “Do you think I’ll ever go to boarding school?” I said, that I didn’t think so. He asked why. There was no challenge or desire in the question – just a query. I remember saying to him: We have given you ever opportunity to explore and learn the things that you are passionate about, in a way that best suits your style of learning, why would we put you in a system that tells you what to learn and how to learn it. His comment was “Good point”. End of discussion. I am not sure that I would answer this question the same way today but that was my answer back then.
So our reason to homeschool continues to be that we as their parents are the major influence in our children’s lives. This goal has over the years, as I let go of the institution model of education, influenced our ‘how’ we homeschool. If someone wants a description of how we homeschool I would have to say that we are discipleship focused and delight encouraged, using an eclectic choice of curriculum and resources. Maybe it would just be simpler to say ‘eclectic!’ We choose what method and what resources meet our needs at any given moment.
Do you know why you are homeschooling and have you let your ‘why’ affect and direct your ‘how’?