I was so honoured when this lovely homeschooling mum agreed to be interviewed as part of Real Australian Homeschools. This is the family that changed our life. This is the family that introduced us to the idea of homeschooling! We knew them from our Church and saw them as a faithful, generous and loving family. It was only when we began considering our schooling options that we stopped and realised just how much we could learn from their example. They really were, for us, the perfect advertisement of what homeschooling could bring to our family. I know you will enjoy reading their story.
The Real Australian Homeschools series can be found here.
Could you tell us a little about your family?
I’m married to James and we have 6 children. The oldest 2 are now married, and I have 4 children at home aged 14, 16, 18 and 19. Only my youngest child, Sebastian, is still homeschooling. Jemima and Elliot are doing yr 11 and yr 12 at school. Rosemary is 2nd year Uni studying Primary Education, Oliver is studying Jazz in Mt Gambier and is married to Chantell, and Madeline is still finishing her double degree in Music and Education at UNSW. She married Owen last year and is now a mum to Theo.
How did you begin homeschooling?
18 years ago, I read about it and it sounded intriguing. I only knew one family that homeschooled, and there was no internet to do the research. However, with 4 children under 5, I figured it might be easier to do kindy at home with my eldest, rather than do school runs, so I gave it a go. Despite my ignorance when starting out, I grew to love it and see so many benefits and blessings that I hadn’t expected. I have made so many wonderful friends though homeschooling, and so have my children. They have thrived as people and to see them as beautiful, creative, articulate, independent young adults has been such a blessing.
How would you describe your homeschooling style?
I think eclectic would sum it up. During the last 18 years we have used some Australian resources as well as American. Bits of this, bits of that. Sticking with things that worked and leaving behind things that didn’t.
Some things worked well for everyone, other things worked for one child but not another, and some things we tried didn’t really work at all. I tried to be fairly strict when the children were younger because with so many schooling, I needed to be structured to keep my own sanity intact!
As they finished schooling and went to school (by their own choice) in year 10 or 11, I became more relaxed in my style with the children left at home.
What does a typical day look like in your house?
When the children were all young, we had a ‘devotion’ time after breakfast and chores where we sang an old hymns and songs learned old church prayers, and read the Bible. We wanted to give them a rich insight into our family’s Christian faith.
After devotions, we did bookwork until lunchtime, with an outside time break for morning tea.
My preschoolers watched Play School while I did reading or lessons with the older children. We all sat around the kitchen table, and I rotated my time around everybody so that we covered handwriting, spelling, creative writing, grammar, and maths each day before morning tea, then science, social studies, history before (or sometimes during or after) lunch.
High school children had more time to do their work, and less direction from me. Afternoons were spent doing craft, reading, playing, building, outside or going to homeschool activities (drama, sport, music etc).
We spent many years involved in Lego Robotics which involved various children going to team meetings, helping run after school classes, fundraising, competitions and travelling overseas to compete.
All the children have studied music in various ways, so days also involved piano teachers, band, choir and lots of practice.
Nowadays, things look different. While I am in and out with helping along my remaining homeschooler, he is mostly responsible to complete his basics of maths, English, science, history and literature. He then has time for other projects that interest him (which can change!).
What is unique about your homeschool?
I think every homeschool is unique. In every home, a family will approach homeschooling in a way which best fits the needs of the family. I’m fairly sure that no two homeschools look the same 🙂
That said, we needed to accommodate 6 children and a desire to provide a Christian worldview. We concentrated on learning piano (for every child) and another instrument (flute, bass guitar, trumpet, sax, clarinet, singing). This came to involve multiple music teachers, bands and choir rehearsals, as well as many performances.
Here we are about 7 years ago
What is one resource/curriculum that you have loved?
I used Abeka for several subjects and came to love their high school Literature books – so many wonderful stories and poems which we enjoyed reading. I also found Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons a helpful resource for my kindergarten aged children.
What is your favourite family read-aloud?
We read aloud in the mornings, after lunch, and again around the dinner table. Too many stories to list, but some standouts included the Little House series, The Hobbit, The Narnia books, and old adventure stories (Robin Hood, King Arthur etc). Also The Story of the World history books.
What has been a particularly enjoyable learning moment for your family?
We loved history, so spending time enjoying a particular history topic was especially fun.
I always loved being part of those “aha” moments, when the children finally grasped a concept that they had struggled with (Long division – always a challenging topic for both them and me!)
What do you struggle with the most?
I struggled with keeping to a routine. Some days we nailed it and other days we collapsed in a heap. Sometimes it was quite lonely being at home all day, so outings to meet up with homeschooling friends were very special. It is wonderful to see so many opportunities for new homeschoolers to hang out now. I worried a lot in the early days that they would be ‘behind’ the other kids at school. Experience has taught me that I shouldn’t have worried! My kids were fine 🙂
Where do you go, or who do you look to, for inspiration and encouragement?
When we first started out, there was no internet, and no organised homeschooling group. We met up with 2 or 3 other families and that was wonderful. Later, that little group grew, and we had regular Thursdays to do drama together, and share experiences. The internet was a whole new world of encouragement and inspiration. I tried to look to families with slightly older children to ask them how they tackled various issues I was having. It was always so reassuring to hear that other people struggled with issues like I did. And to find some tips to help!
Simone’s books and work can be found online at