I don’t think people choose to home school for just one reason – we certainly didn’t. First of all it ticked the lifestyle box for us – we’ve been very deliberate about creating a life of freedom and flexibility, which is reflected not just in our decision to home-school but also in my choice to build my own business. Next week we’re going to the Gold Coast for a holiday; I don’t have to ask my boss for time off, and we don’t have to work around school holidays – I love that.
But I also believe that we can deliver a higher quality and more tailored education, be more available and hands-on with our kids and equip them for life better than anyone else – because no one knows our children as well as we do, and no one loves them as much as we do either.
I was home schooled so I guess I had the advantage of knowing what was involved, but the truth is you don’t need experience, training or a qualification. My wife, Liz, was reluctant at first and unlike me, had no idea what to expect – but she’d be the first to tell you it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice she makes every day.
Last night we sat at the dinner table and our oldest, Jessica (who is eight), asked to play ‘The Country Game’. Essentially, she picks a continent and then we all take turns naming a country in that continent until one of us can’t – then we’re out of the game: this is home schooling at our house.
The number one thing I’ve learned since beginning this journey is that you don’t have to be a natural born teacher or a super-mum to home school; because kids love to learn, and they’ll find opportunities anywhere and everywhere. They’re born with an inbuilt desire to discover – from the first day they felt sand between their fingers (and just had to taste it), to the millions of ‘Why?’ questions they ask every day.
When my husband suggested home schooling my first response was: “Not me! I’m not educated enough, smart enough, patient enough or fun enough! What if I’m the reason my kids don’t succeed and then can’t do what they want to do in life?!” These responses all make me laugh now and I’m so glad they didn’t stop me from just giving it a go – because the truth is that I love it, and so do my kids.
Some things you may not know about home schooling:
- Unlike school, it doesn’t take six to eight hours a day to teach your children. There’s virtually no wasted time, and you can achieve so much more, so much faster when you’re dealing with one child, as opposed to 30. What takes all day at school can be achieved in as little as two hours at home.
- Your child will not become a social misfit. The “How do they socialise?” question is common, but so easily answered. First, the home-schooling community is significant, and we constantly interact; playdates are the norm, not the exception. Second, extra-curricular activities are important. My children do swimming lessons, music lessons, ballet, sport and gymnastics – all with others their age. Third, our children are learning their social skills from us, mature adults (mostly!) – not from the 30 other six-year-olds in their class. We teach them how to behave, what’s appropriate and what isn’t, and how to treat others.
- You don’t have to send your child to school until they’re six – which means when they turn five you can spend a year ‘unofficially’ home schooling. Use it, with absolutely no pressure, to try out ideas and see if it’s something that fits your family.
Home schooling my children has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life to date, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Not only do I have the privilege of watching my children develop a love of learning, but it’s creating that same love in me, which I never had growing up.
I think the big myth when it comes to home schooling is that you have to be some sort of super-mum to pull it off – that is simply not true. If I can do it, anyone can!