It’s time for another instalment of our Real Australian Homeschools Series. I have been so encouraged and inspired by the stories so far and I hope that you have been too.
Today I would like to introduce you to Penny. Penny and I met through the Facebook community Early Childhood Homeschool Australia, a new group that Penny began for sharing and discussing homeschooling our young children in particular. As we shared our stories in the group we realised how very different our children were and how very different our styles of homeschooling were and just how perfect that was. Our contrasting stories clearly highlighted the wonderful flexibility and personalisation that homeschooling offers. When I first began working on this series, she was one of the very first people I asked to contribute. I hope you are encouraged by her story.
Could you tell us a little about your family?
I am a wife and a stay at home mum of 2 children. Our daughter is 4 years old and our son is 4 months old. We live in Perth, Western Australia. My husband is a teacher at quite a prestigious boys school, so I was quite surprised when he first mentioned the idea of homeschooling. I also have a part time photography business that I really enjoy.
How did you begin homeschooling?
Well as I mentioned before, my hubby was the first one to actually bring it up. When my daughter was born, we enrolled her at about 6 or 7 different private schools, just so we would not miss out on a spot. Fast forward 3 years, and the acceptance letters started arriving. One day while watching a reality TV show that involved a homeschooling family, he said to me “why don’t we think about doing that?” I thought he was nuts, only because I had all the pre-conceived ideas about what homeschooling was. I thought we would be staying home every day, doing loads of book work and having no friends. How wrong I was! I joined as many homeschooling Facebook groups as possible, and even joined in on a few get togethers. I wanted to see what it was all about. I am so glad I did, because I found a wonderful community of people, made some fantastic friends and it really has opened my eyes to another way of education.
How would you describe your homeschooling style?
When people ask me what my style of homeschooling is, my reply is usually somewhere along the lines of “I don’t really have a style, we are a bit of everything” and it is true. I guess if you had to say a style, we would be eclectic. We take a bit of an unschooling approach to some things, and we do a lot of unit studies, book work and activities, because that is what my daughter loves to do. So we are a bit of a mixture.
What does a typical day look like in your house?
We don’t really have a ‘typical’ daily structure. On weekdays, our morning usually consists on getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to head out for our morning. We enjoy going out most mornings, as it gets us out of the house and I find that it actually gives me some time out (from playing make believe games!!) The only scheduled activities that we have on a regular basis, is a weekly dance class, and a newly organised homeschool co-op. On the other mornings, we usually have a play date with our other homeschooled friends or have a lunch date with my Mum. My daughter loves spending time with her Grandma. Some weeks she even gets a little cooking or sewing lesson with her, which is nice. In the afternoon we have quiet time! I think it is important for me to have some time in the day when I don’t have to play games, dress up or sing songs (WOO HOO) In this time, my youngest (4 months) will have a nap…hopefully longer than 30 min and miss 4 can watch/play on the iPad, or play on her own. During this time, I either catch up on some housework, or even watch one of my amazingly trashy shows that I just love (think along the lines of Kardashians) This is MY time to recharge. After quiet time, we usually work on an activity that I had previously planned for our unit study. I plan these units in advance, because I find that I am more motivated to do these activities if I have already planned them, and have all the items I need in one place.
Now as I mentioned, there is no typical day for us. So while some days might look like this, others may involve some cooking together, craft, or even just having a day of doing nothing but watching movies, playing iPad or colouring in (these usually happen on days when Mr 4 Months does not want to sleep!!) Every day is different for us, and I am sure things will change as we continue on the homeschooling journey
What is unique about your homeschool?
That question is hard to answer really, I think one of the reasons that I LOVE the idea of homeschooling, is the fact that you can be so unique. You can tailor your child’s education to suit them and what level they are at.
What is one resource/curriculum that you have loved?
I don’t really have a particular curriculum that we use. As my daughter is working at kindergarten level, we do a lot of learning through games, play and craft activities. We have a large cupboard that my daughter can access. This has a lot of games and puzzles, as well as access to a range of art and craft items. We also use a lot of kindergarten level work books that involve tracing, problem solving and other activities. At the moment, she is going through these workbooks like there is no tomorrow, as she loves to sit and do “work”.
What is your favourite family read-aloud?
Our favourite read aloud at the moment is The Magic Hat, by Mem Fox. I really enjoy reading stories that rhyme, and Miss 4 is often heard ‘reading’ these back to her dolls in bed.
What has been a particularly enjoyable learning moment for your family?
I think our favourite learning moments happen when we are travelling. We love getting in our car and taking a road trip with the caravan in tow. We enjoy discovering this great country of ours, and I think so much learning happens when you are out and about. During these trips, we have plenty of discussions in the car along the way, and stop at many interesting places that we would not normally get to visit. These things bring up great discussions and memories with the kids.
What do you struggle with the most?
I think I struggle the most with letting go of the ‘school” aspect of learning. Sometimes I think to myself “well that is not how you do it, because that is not how I was taught at school” or “how can you learn unless you are sitting at a desk, reading and writing all day” I need to keep reminding myself, that is WHY we want to homeschool. We don’t have to be like school. We don’t have to sit at a desk all day and do work.
Where do you go, or who do you look to, for inspiration and encouragement?
I don’t think there is one person in particular I go to, or look to for inspiration. I take inspiration from everyone. I love reading other blogs from homeschoolers, reading questions and answers on Facebook pages, and chatting to my homeschool friends. I get my inspiration and encouragement from all of them.
Where can people find you online?
If people want to find out more about our homeschool, they can follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/learningthroughlifeblog, my Instagram account which is penny_learningthroughlife or my blog www.learningthroughlife.com.au
You can also find Penny’s wonderful Early Years Resource Tubs on Facebook.