Today I am honoured to introduce to you Tneal. Tneal is a second generation Australian homeschooler. She, herself, was homeschooled as a child and now is homeschooling her own children. I have known her since we were kids and her family was the very first homeschooled family I ever knew. I thought they had a pretty wonderful life! They certainly had a positive influence on me.
Now Tneal and her husband are homeschooling their own children. When I arrived, slightly terrified at my first local homeschool meet, there she was welcoming me at the door. What a blessing she is. She shares with us some reflections on her own homeschool experience, their journey to homeschooling their own children, and what her life looks like today.
Could you tell us a little about your family?
Hi everyone, my name is Tneal and I am a wife to Daniel and a Mum to three young children. Our son will be 7 in November and our twin girls will be turning 5 in the middle of August. Our family loves and serves Jesus, enjoys nature, sport, cooking, drawing, and reading books together.
Prior to having children I worked as a High School Science teacher, but have since become a certified Integrative Health Coach. I enjoy running workshops on various health topics and coaching clients on how to achieve their health goals. My husband runs his own film and animation business (www.saltmedia.net). He is very supportive and involved in our homeschooling. We have lots of food allergies and intolerances (our son is anaphylactic to eggs, dairy and most nuts – though he can eat almonds and macadamias now which is very exciting). Our family is passionate about allergy-free cooking, growing our own food organically and educating others about holistic living. We’re currently having some fun making a series of videos called ‘Cooking with Kids’. (The aim is to educate and inspire families to get into the kitchen and cook and eat healthy meals together.)
Now, you were homeschooled yourself. Could you tell us something that you loved about being homeschooled and something that you found difficult?
I was homeschooled for most of primary and I loved it for so many reasons! I have so many wonderful memories that I will treasure my entire life. I loved the freedom I had to learn the subjects and topics I was interested in. I still remember doing a big topic on butterflies, due to my interest and fascination of butterflies at the time. I loved learning, playing and growing alongside my siblings (I am the eldest of 4). I loved getting all my bookwork done in the morning and having time to do craft and play in the arvo’s. I also did gymnastics 5 days a week (which is where I first met Shelley). I loved all the excursions we went on and the places we got to see! I really loved the time we had to do things together as a family!
I don’t really have many memories of anything difficult in regards to homeschooling, except for one minor thing… I really loved getting awards and was very goal orientated. I remember when I was in upper primary, Mum would give me stickers for good work and I felt like they didn’t mean anything… I wanted to get special awards at special assemblies like you do at school. Really not a big problem though!
How did you, yourself, begin homeschooling? Was it something that you always planned to do?
I had always thought about homeschooling, I guess because I had such a great experience with it as a kid. My husband knew this and he agreed that there were so many awesome benefits to teaching your children at home. After having children, we prayed a lot about it and wrote down a list of positive and negatives. It seemed that the positives outweighed any worries or negatives that there may have been. I think in the end, we felt that homeschooling really was the best thing to do for our family. Our son’s life-threatening allergies kind of gave us the push and confirmation that we should try it for ourselves.
How would you describe your homeschooling style? Is it the same way you were homeschooled?
When our eldest was preschool age, I started researching the different types of homeschooling styles to work out what I liked. There were a few books that I found helpful and still find helpful, including ‘Educating the Wholehearted Child‘ by Clay and Sally Clarkson, ‘Steady Days‘ by Jamie C. Martin, ‘When Children Love to Learn‘ by Elaine Cooper, and ‘For the Children’s Sake‘ by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
I love Charlotte Mason’s principles and philosophies and try to include many of those into our homeschooling (though I don’t follow it strictly). My Mum had started using ACE when she began homeschooling us and then changed to a more unit/topic based style of learning (with Charlotte Mason philosophies – which she didn’t really know as she had never heard of her). I really like unit/topic studies and the way Mum taught us, so I guess my style is quite similar to the way I was homeschooled. We also do a little bit of bookwork sometimes – it really is a bit of a mix. I love the idea of learning through life, learning outside in nature, narrating and living books, music and art appreciation and bible instruction, handcrafts, life skills etc.
What does a typical day look like in your house?
Our days vary quite a bit, but typically we get up and have breakfast, then we do a Bible devotion and pray from our family prayer book. After that, if we don’t have something on that morning, we tend to sit down and do some beginning reading, copywork (whether that be writing a family member a birthday card or a letter or something else) and a little bit of maths. The kids then have some morning tea and have a play outside – a bit of ‘Ninja Warrior’ on the swing set and across the obstacle course they made up. We might do some drawing or gardening together or go for a bike ride/scooter round the block. I try to get the kids involved with cooking lunch and they might watch a little bit of tv. They are really enjoying Sally and Possum at the moment on ABC for Kids and learning about sign language. After lunch, I will read the kids some books – the type of books varies throughout the week. We read a bit of fiction, poetry, some riddles, books on geography and history or science. Then they have some time in the arvo to build Lego, play creatively, do some craft or dance. On different days of the week we go different places, Monday morning we head out to the local community farm where we have two garden plots and we grow our own vegetables. Tuesday afternoons we have tennis lessons which the kids love!! And Wednesday afternoons our son has piano lessons.
Our days really do vary quite a bit, but I love the flexibility of homeschooling!
What is one resource/curriculum that you have loved?
Our kids have really enjoyed the free drawing lessons from Art Hub for Kids.
‘Jot It Down’ by Julie (Bogart) Sweeney – Brave Writer LLC has some great ideas we have used.
The Maths U See Manipulative’s (Unit and base 10 blocks) have been a great resource.
And lastly I have found the ‘Laying Down the Rails – Habit Training‘ resources by Simply Charlotte Mason to be extremely valuable. Sorry I know that’s more than one.
What has been your favourite family read-aloud?
We love read-alouds! So this is a hard question! Our kids love ‘The Littles‘ series by John Peterson. Another all-time favourite is ‘A Fish Out of Water‘ by Helen Palmer. You can never read that one too many times to them. These were also some of my favourite stories as a child.
What has been a particularly enjoyable learning moment for your family?
I have loved learning alongside our children! Seeing them hear things or see things or understand things for the first time is just golden. I have also really enjoyed watching them grow in their love for each other, in their love for God and in their love for others. We have been working a lot on character and habit training over the past few years and this can be hard and tiring work. But it is so worth it when you see the kids show hospitality to a guest by offering them a drink or show kindness to their sibling by sharing their toys. It really makes my heart sing, when they display some of the characters/habits we have been working on; respect, obedience, attention/focus, cleanliness, truthfulness, manners and self-control.
What do you struggle with the most?
I guess I struggle with the internal conflict between how I want to teach my kids and how I was taught to teach at university. I’m thankful for having been in and out of the school system both as a student and teacher… but sometimes I can get stuck in teaching how I would with a class of 30 in the school system, instead of going with my heart and teaching more intentionally through activities and life.
What is something that you are passionate about? Something that brings you joy and helps feed your soul?
I am passionate about healthy holistic living, reducing chemicals and wastage, cooking and eating whole foods, growing our own food organically, educating others about gut health and holistic living and supporting Mums and families to live a nurtured life. Knowing I am a child of God and that I am loved by him brings me great joy and I definitely find reading the Bible feeds my soul.
You can find Tneal online here –
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/nurturedlivingaustralia/