Welcome to our first instalment of Real Australian Homeschools. I am so excited about this series! I have some wonderful guests lined up who are going to give us a little glimpse into their homeschool. I hope you find them as inspiring and encouraging as I do.
Our first guest is the lovely Carol. I was fortunate to hear Carol speak at the Mum Heart Conference in June. She speaks from years of experience with a refreshing humility and openness.
Could you tell us a little about your family?
My husband and I have 7 children, 4 boys and three girls aged from 28 years down to 12 years of age. The eldest two are married and we’re looking forward to our first grandchild coming into the world later this year.
How did you begin homeschooling?
The first time I’d ever heard about home education was when I saw it briefly mentioned in a book I read before we were married. The idea intrigued me and sat in the back of my mind. When I was expecting our eldest child, I went to a wonderful woman’s conference in the Blue Mountains. While there, I bought a copy of For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay; took it home, read it, and immediately knew that this was the type of education I wanted for our future children. By the time our eldest was two years of age, my husband and I decided that we would teach her at home.
How would you describe your homeschooling style?
Charlotte Mason’s ideas have been the backbone of the way I teach my children. I also love the ideas and resources from some classical sources, the Circe Institute for example.
What does a typical day look like in your house?
I wrote about that here and nothing much has changed except that now I’m only teaching my youngest as the older six have graduated. I’ve tended to keep the same sort of schedule, although I have more outside the home activities now than I had when I had a houseful.
What is unique about your homeschool?
One thing we often get comments about is our children’s musical abilities. They each play an instrument (or two) skilfully: Piano/keyboard, acoustic/electric guitar, violin, double bass, drums, cello and our eldest son composed the instrumental music for his wedding. Music has always been an important part of our days.
What is one resource/curriculum that you have loved?
May I mention two??
First of all, AmblesideOnline has been wonderful overall. We’ve made a few adaptions mostly to suit our Australian context, but also because in the past I’ve had to juggle a wide age range and it was just easier to do some things together rather than in separate year levels.
The second resource was a more recent addition after years of frustration in trying to find a good French Curriculum. About 18 months ago I started using French for Children published by Classical Academic Press with my then ten year old daughter and I have been more than happy with it and can recommend it highly for children who are ready for a more formal approach (i.e. around age ten and up)
What is your favourite family read-aloud?
If I ask my kids, the unanimous answer to that would be, “Sun on the Stubble” by Colin Thiele. I loved reading it aloud but it was hard going as it’s difficult to read aloud and laugh at the same time. A highlight for me, personally, was “Walkabout” by James Vance Marshall as it provoked quite a profound discussion at the time about spiritual things.
What has been a particularly enjoyable learning moment for your family?
Some spontaneous moments have come out of our focus on nature study. Sometimes I’ve felt that my children were switched off in this area but then I’ll hear one of them call out to me, “Mum, come and have a look at this!” I know right away that they’re going to point out something they’ve observed in nature: a spectacular sunset, a wee green frog, black cockatoos, a feathertail glider, an echidna.
What do you struggle with the most?
Generally not anything to do with teaching/learning but the constant washing, cleaning, cooking etc. When the children were all little, accidents and illness would be the straws that broke the camel’s back.
Where do you go, or who do you look to, for inspiration and encouragement?
Reading – books have always been a source of inspiration for me. I enjoy talking to good friends. Going out for a coffee works wonders for me. I’m low maintenance – my husband would probably say otherwise…talking isn’t always his strong point. But if I can air my thoughts and disentangle them, I feel like a different person afterwards.
Getting out in the fresh air, getting some exercise is important for me, too.
You can find Carol online at: