Home education, or homeschool has become a popular alternative to educate children. This valuable online e-Book provides real life experiences, tried and proven methods on how to teach core subjects and lots of answers to your many questions about home education, the education department, opposition from family and friends, and how to deal with daily problems. Student work examples, known as printable worksheets are also given.
The original book Successful Home Education was primarily written for Australian parents however, the information is just as helpful for parents wanting to homeschool their children in other parts of the world and provides helpful and practical information about home education. Follow the Chapters by selecting them from the left-hand menu, or simply pick the topic you would like to read about.
The idea to write a book about this subject, be it big or small, seemed ludicrous to me. Time is precious and who would want to read what I have to say anyway? After years of thought and indecisiveness I finally put my fingers to the keyboard. You may find some spelling and grammar errors, I’m not going to beat around the bush and claim that it will be perfect… far from it. I am also not going to spend endless months editing these pages as this would probably lead to writer’s block and a fear of submitting this script to other human beings.
On occasion I will refer to ‘your child’ as ‘he’. I have done this in order to make the text more readable but it definitely does not mean I have forgotten about the ‘female’ gender. Your daughters are just as important as your sons but reading ‘he/she’ on a regular basis can be annoying and can detract from what I am trying to say, hence the ‘he’ approach has been used.
For those who are interested in home education and for those who have already started and would like to know my story, I decided to write down my thoughts, experiences, joys and sorrows. My name is Ingrid and I was born in the Netherlands and came to this beautiful country Australia in 1983. My understanding of the English language was limited so I had to learn almost everything from scratch. I have fond memories of the days when words made no sense and ‘Unions’ were declared as ‘Onions’. Sad memories of missed friendships and opportunities because my No’s should have been Yes’s and my nods should have been shakes.
Alas…. what more can I say!
My thanks goes to all the Aussies who showed patience and kindness in teaching this foreign girl their ways and I sincerely hope that the people of this fantastic country will never lose their true Australian helpful ways and identity.
Successful Home Education, 2004, ISBN 1876893168, Copyright © Griggs I. M. Published by: Teaching Treasures Publications can be viewed online, purchased from our shopping cart or read at the National Library of Australia in eBook format.
Chapter 1 How we Started
My husband has always been a little unorthodox and eccentric as far as this world is concerned, so when he suggested to homeschool our children I wasn’t too disturbed. It was early 1988, a couple of months before the birth of our third child when we decided to look into this homeschool bit. I had actually met a couple of homeschool families some years earlier but didn’t realize what was meant when they told me their children were homeschooled. I do remember one family had three delightful young boys, all very keen to hear where I came from, what I was doing in Australia and where I was heading to next. They were creative, artistic, polite and full of life.
The other family I had met was equally delightful. The two boys had graduated from Queensland University and one had obtained a job as a surgeon, the other was a lawyer. I was only seventeen when I met these families and really not aware what this homeschooling bit entailed, being public schooled myself. Thinking back, I now realize that homeschooling or better said, home education is definitely not a new phenomenon as many people so recklessly and unjustifiably claim. Home education has been around since the foundation of the world. Imagine Adam and Eve saying; 'Cain, Abel get dressed for school, hurry up you’re late. Don’t forget your lunch!' How about Noah enrolling his sons into college to learn engineering, boat building, timber craft, zoology. Wow!
It wasn’t until I was married and my sister-in-law decided to pull her children out of public school and teach them at home that I heard about homeschooling again. I thought it was really nice how she was able to spend time with her children, teach them what she wanted them to learn and more importantly, teach them Godly values. So I guess when my husband suggested trying this approach with our children I was not surprised to find myself say 'Why not'!
The one thing that really bothered me though was the fact that our city property was extremely small. One eighth of an acre with a bunch of children is no fun, especially if we were going to be home on a full time basis. I had observed my sister-in-law for some time and noticed how hard it was for her and the children to live and work in confined spaces. After all, their place was no bigger than ours!
After much thought I told my husband that if we were to teach our children at home we would need to move to a bigger property with a bigger house and out of the city. I hated city living anyway and I knew that I would go crazy before long if I had to stay living where we did with the four children we had by then. So we prayed about it and decided to put the house on the market. We had no idea where we were going to move. Maybe Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Albany or out Woop-woop.
We looked high and low, traveled far and wide and found nothing that suited us. The real-estate agent we had, did not help us much in selling our house, he was nice, but not a good salesman. Afterwards we realized that God had everything under control and our house was finally sold and we bought a dump south of Woop-woop, or so I was recently told. The house was a kit home and with much work could be brought up to scratch but the best part was, the place was a five acre property with room to move. Everything worked out and we are still here with additions made to the house, trees planted, vegies growing and our last baby was actually born in our home.
Before moving from Perth, to the southwest in WA, I had already started teaching our eldest child. He was, I guess our first guinea pig. Have you ever tried to teach a four- year-old how to hold a pencil properly? I tell you, it is a real battle when he decides to keep doing it his way. It took nearly a year for us to convince him that holding a pen the correct way would be better than the way he wanted to hold it. First hurdle was conquered, now the best part, teaching him how to read and write. We decided to choose a set curriculum that would help us teach our children. One particular system appeared to be rather good and we had seen others use it.
After we moved from Perth, we really got stuck into education. Our eldest boy appeared to do well on our chosen system, he learned to read and write, did his work and looked bored. I just assumed that was what children are supposed to be…bored. After all, school is boring! I don’t care what you think, I thought school was boring and so of course my children would find it boring too, only natural. Our second and third child appeared to do well on the same system too, but by the time our fourth one started, she bucked up. She had heard it all before, seen all the pictures already and decided that she didn’t want to be bored with that stuff. However, I forced her to complete her work amidst tears and protests. This went on for some months and that’s when the bubble burst.
I had just had baby number five and we all had enough of everybody’s grizzling, grumbling, moaning, complaining outbursts, including my own. That was the day I picked up our huge stack of workbooks, worth over a thousand dollars and chucked it across the room. I can chuck things pretty well when I’m angry and it certainly was a colourful display when dozens and dozens of workbooks flew across the room. The children all cheered, our toddler cried and it just felt like a huge burden had suddenly lifted off my shoulders. 'What are we going to do now' was on everyone’s lips. Something else that’s for sure, I thought, I had had enough of this regimented copy-paste system for too long anyway, which was getting us all down in the dumps. Why did I subject our beautiful children to boring tasks they hated doing? Why did I subject our children to dull, mundane, uncreative, brain numbing stuff? I guess because that was what the other homeschoolers did.
Well, I told you before we were already classed as eccentric so I decided we might as well live up to that standard. I gave the books on the floor one last kick and then we went for a long walk, looked at the tadpoles in the creek, crossed the fence, got stuck on the barbwire, ripped two pairs of good pants and headed for the bush. We found a dead, rather smelly emu, spotted two live kangaroos happily jumping around and a kookaburra that laughed his head off at us. I was appalled at that... as if I didn't have enough to deal with! While I sat on a stump thinking, the children decided to sit and do some thinking too. Their stump was excellent... from a child's point of view. Burned out, black as charcoal, delightfully dirty, sooty and ideal for turning their little sister into some black-haired child rather than her blond curls. When we finally headed back home I decided that enough was enough, and that it was time to have some fun. Learning should be fun, I thought. Then I changed my thinking pattern and said, ‘Learning is Fun!’
From that day on I have not looked back. Serious discussions between my husband and myself solved a lot of the frustration problems. We picked up odds and ends from supermarkets for our children. Sometimes secondhand stores have wonderful teaching materials for sale for very little money. The library became more of a weekly event and when it was advertised that the public libraries were donating their unwanted books to the 'Great Book Sale' we headed straight for it. Hundreds of books were purchased at $0.50, $1,00 or $2,00 each. Some books were $5,00 or more but these were well worth it. Most of the books purchased were research books about fauna, flora, geography, science, history, medical, atlases, different countries, different language books, technology, art, society and so forth. Some books are written especially for children, others for adults. It makes no difference! They are all educational and we bought a good variety. We continue to purchase new books to add to our personal library on a regular basis.
Now, when we go for a walk we might take some photos of wildflowers, scenery, fungi, insects and any other interesting things. The children write about where they walked, what they have seen, the weather etc. They are having fun and so am I! Walking is an excellent exercise, we not only walk, we scramble over logs, climb over rocks, stumble over tree roots, trip over sticks, jump over creeks, fall into mud, run like lightning from swarming insects and generally have our quota of healthy exercise. Of course, I still teach every day reading, writing and arithmetic. The children might read about elephants. Then they write an essay about elephants, research where the elephants live, find those countries on an atlas or the world globe.
They learn what the animals eat, how they fit into modern civilization, the impact these animals have on the environment, the impact humans have on the animals and so on. Drawings are common on the children's work, covering art and discovering their creative talents, I thought they didn’t have. I found since I changed from a set curriculum to a more flexible method things have changed. I have changed! The children have changed! They have become more attentive, advanced in problem solving, research skills have sky rocketed, reading skills are advancing at enormous speed, writing skills rocket along and the fun of learning is present every day. I have more work to do but with less stress than I had experienced previously.
I realize that not everybody is cut out to toss in a set curriculum. Some people really need it. If you are one of those people don't worry. A set curriculum has been used for decades and probably will continue to be used for many years to come. With new curriculum frameworks being adopted and adapted in many countries it should make the home educator's job easier, if applied correctly, but so many don't know how to! If you study the Australian Curriculum Framework you will notice that home educators have been using the identical and often similar learning strategies before the Framework was even written. It is not new! Oh yes, plenty of new words, difficult phrases, you may even begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the comprehension side of your brain. Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong with you! Even teachers are having problems understanding the Framework, let alone implement it! Take some time to study it if you are interested and would like to know more. I did!
You can teach your child to read and write without the use of a set curriculum. I taught my youngest boy to read and write without a set curriculum, of course I had the experience of teaching four others previously, which admittedly made it easier. We all had fun devising different games each day. The first few months are the hardest but once the letters and letter sounds are learned, things will fall into place. I recommend using a phonics syllabus, along with your own ideas and methods. Quick hand written flash cards are also simple and easy to make, letters, words, phrases, numbers and so forth. It really is unlimited!
I was recommended not to hang the alphabet in my child's bedroom by, I suppose a well-meaning person. I was told this would cause cheating. Now that's bad advice! Please, hang a beautiful bright coloured alphabet chart in your child's room. Make sure it displays both lowercase and uppercase letters. If you can't buy one, make one. Use large poster paper or write individual letters on each A4 sheet of paper. Write the letters big so they can be seen from a distance. Do the same with the numbers!
Now that I’ve basically introduced how we started diversifying our home education adventure, I would like you to consider how you could help your children have fun while they are learning. When you look at education, most people see it as Boring, with a capital B. It should not be boring though, it should be exciting, stimulating, adventurous and interesting. You and your children should be thriving, enthusiastic, keen to start a new day, devoted to living life to the fullest potential. Our family has come to grips with this homeschool bit, we don’t do homeschool anymore, we learn and work at home. If you want to school your children, send them to school because that is what school is. Lots of children, the same age group, in one building, split into classes with one or two teachers per classroom, devoted to the whole lot.
School promotes a set values system and curriculum, not always suitable for each individual child but is generalized to suit the schooling situation. People tend to believe that bulk education provided by the so-called accredited system is the cheapest, most efficient and effective way of educating the masses…. but is it really?
If you want the best for your children then it must come from you, be honest with your children, do what you say you’re going to do and communicate. Communication is the most important key factor in successful home education and really in everything we do in our lives. Only you can love and care for your child as much as you do, not a teacher! They have a job to do, you have a life-long, labour of love to fulfill, so start fulfilling your child’s needs and get back to basics of true family life.
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