After all of our long talks about homeschooling, which included me flooding husbands Facebook feed with memes and links to speakers that I found inspiring (like this one and this one by Sir Ken Robinson, if you’re interested enough to take a look), we finally made our decision. Which went a little bit like this;
Him: You know what? Just do it. We have to make a decision, so let’s just do it.
Me: Are you sure?
Him: No, I’m not sure. Not at all. But I love you, and I trust you, and I know that you’re going to go at this like it’s your life’s mission, just because you hate to admit defeat. There’s no teacher in any school in the world who is going to be as dedicated to my girls, as you. So do it.
Me: Schools aren’t going anywhere.
Him: I know.
Me: If it goes pear shaped, or if she asks to go to school, I will be the first person to drive her down to the local primary school and enroll her.
Him: I know.
Me: So are we really going to do it?
Him: Let’s do it.
He’s pretty special 😉
So the next day I was onto the website for the West Australian Department of Education to find out what I had to do to make it official. I’ve since found out that every state in Australia has a different system as far as registering and reporting to the board is concerned, and, luckily for us, WA is one of the more “user friendly” states. We will be assigned what they call a Moderator, who will check in on a yearly basis to make sure there is progress displayed since the previous visit. The Moderator will make an initial visit in the first three months as a kind of meet and greet thing (from what I’ve been told). As we are off on a trip overseas next week, I am not expecting to hear from our moderator until we get back. So one phone call, a couple of forms and a copy of Miss 5s birth certificate later, and we’re registered.
And that’s it. There’s no information evening, no course to do, no instruction book, or teachers pack. Nothing. As I am yet to meet our moderator, I don’t know if s/he will turn up with something of the sort or not, but to date there is nothing. At first I must admit, I found it pretty intimidating and more than a little overwhelming. Especially with so many people asking “are you capable?”, “do you have any qualifications?”, “how do you know what you have to teach her?”. The answers to these questions are no and I don’t know!! And then I had a little epiphany. I was over thinking it, and beginning to second guess myself. In the last 5 years I have guided her through sitting, crawling, walking, talking, feeding herself and dressing herself. We have already learned to count, the alphabet, to write her name and countless other things. My lightbulb moment was realising this, I am already her teacher. I already am schooling her at home, AND doing a damn fine job too. Once I realised this, I relaxed. Sure it’s going to get more involved and there are going to be times where I’m going to be burning the midnight oil studying up on whatever lesson is at hand, but I am already doing it! I’m already doing it, and there is nobody on earth that knows how to teach my daughter something, better than I do. This realised, I started to do even more research! I knew that I liked certain approaches to teaching. Certain philosophies of Steiner/Waldorf, Charlotte Mason and a few others made my heart sing, so I looked further into them. I read about homeschooling, deschooling, unschooling, classical methods, natural learning, relaxed schooling, Montessori methods, digital schooling and unit studies. And each one had at least one thing that made me think Yes! I want to try that. And then I heard the term “eclectic homeschooling” and that suits Miss 5 and I perfectly. So that’s how we plan to move forward. We are taking the methods and principles that we like from wherever we can find them, and applying them to us. And that’s the “how” part taken care of. Now for the what.
This part I found really easy. I just asked Miss 5. People think that you can’t trust children to want to learn, or to choose the way that they learn, but it disagree. I think, if left to their own devices in their own time frame, children will want to learn with a ferocious appetite. It’s when you force children to learn certain things in a certain timeframe, outside of their own rhythm, that the resistance starts. Learning is an indelible part of the human condition. So I asked her “What do you want to learn? How do you want to learn it? What do you think is really fun? What do you really not like to do?” After all this is her school and I will be her teacher, here to help her learn, so it has to be what she wants. We sat down and talked about it. She told me that she wants to learn about Ancient Egypt, how creatures live under the sea (Not about the animals, mummy, I already know what fish and sharks and turtles are. I want to learn about how they breathe underwater, and what they eat, and where in the world they like to swim, and why some creatures live in the icy waters and not in the warm waters), she also wants to learn about China, learn to cook and learn woodwork! She told me that she didn’t enjoy “mat time” when she attended the Kindy program she was in, she didn’t like to have to sit still and not talk. But she did enjoy the worksheets that they did at Kindy. This was enough to give me a start. I checked and cross referenced the curriculum to make sure I wasn’t missing anything as far as major subjects are concerned, like math, science, english etc. And I designed themed work sheets. I gathered a plethora of experiments and activities to cover the STEM subjects. I have a reading list compiled, which will be added to our own reading for pleasure (I am listing the books we are reading, as we go, on a page on this blog. Feel free to check it out.), and as I have a background in art and photography, there are arts/crafts ideas galore! After we return from our trip, I also have plans to enrol Miss 5 in a musical theatre class, as well as joining in various co-ops, classes and social activities that we have access to through the Perth homeschooling community. We’re going to be pretty busy!
I have deliberately left the “lesson plans” pretty vague. We will work it out in more detail as we go. Miss 5 is bold, and highly verbal and quite happy to take control and steer this ship in the direction of her choosing. And I’m pretty happy to go along for the ride 🙂