My Journey From a Teacher to a Homeschooling Parent
Homeschooling has enriched this family’s life, reducing stress and creating room for personal flourishing.
My name is Heidi; my husband Ben and I are currently on a homeschool journey with our three children aged 7, 10 and 12. I am a qualified teacher and I was teaching casually at the school that my three children attended until late 2021.
My husband and I decided that our lives needed to change; we pulled our children from mainstream schooling and made preparations to homeschool them starting in 2022.
I am very sure the decision to homeschool caught many of our friends and family members by surprise; it does in fact, still surprise me at times. Our lives have changed in such a dramatic way that it sometimes seems surreal.
This time last year, we were being controlled by the routines of regular school life. Our mornings were rushed, stressful and chaotic. There was often homework being completed by one or more children at the breakfast table as we scoffed down our cereal at lightning speed. We were madly grabbing late library books and home readers while straightening ties and finding drink bottles and missing shoes.
We would then spend the next 30 minutes driving to school apologising to each other for getting angry minutes before about stolen hairbrushes and lost toothpaste tubes. I silently promised myself every car trip that tomorrow morning would be better…
Change of Pace
It was towards the end of 2021 when I decided to stop teaching, and my husband and I took some time to evaluate our family. Our eldest daughter was about to enter high school and our lives seemed to be moving too fast, and it felt as though we were missing out on relationships with our kids.
We were busy and tired, and sometimes that the busyness we were experiencing didn’t seem to have a purpose or a goal. Something needed to change, and we thought that maybe homeschooling was the answer. After much prayer and some lengthy chats with friends who were already homeschooling, my husband and I decided to dive in.
This was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Two of our children were keen, but our eldest was not. We ended up letting our 12-year-old daughter start the year at regular school for a while. We wanted desperately for her to join us, but we also did not want to force her against her will.
Thankfully, she decided to give homeschooling a go, and a few months into it, she shared with me that she was so happy that we had made the decision to try homeschooling. As hoped for, it felt as though our family life experience a complete gear change and we noticed a massive difference immediately.
It was like our family did a collective sigh, an exhale after an intense workout. We felt as though we were now able to get on with being a family and start some real learning, and more importantly, find and develop a love of learning.
We are nine months into our homeschool journey, and I can confidently say it’s one of the best decisions we have made for our family. Our lives have slowed right down, and we are enjoying stress-free mornings where we don’t need to worry about finding lost library books or filling drink bottles.
The kids wake up from a full night of sleep, often after the local school bus has well and truly passed our front gate. We have a cooked breakfast and we are free to enjoy the stillness of the morning before we start our lessons. We begin the day with devotion and prayer, reading God’s word together around the table as a family.
Pursuing Their Passions
Our lessons are usually finished by lunchtime and then the kids are free to ride their motorbikes or tinker with their Lego. One thing I have noticed since starting this journey is each of the children has really taken an interest in a particular topic or hobby and claimed it as their own.
Our eldest daughter loves propagating plants and has a table set up on the verandah with her pots neatly arranged and labelled.
Our middle daughter has taken control of the chicken pen. She diligently collects and dates the eggs each morning and is constantly reading about how to care for them from her poultry book.
Our youngest son, who was identified at the end of kindergarten by the Learning Support Team as being a child who was behind with his reading, has amazed us with his ability and desire to read the Bible aloud in devotions. He can now often be found reading a novel on the lounge room floor. It feels as though the children have become relaxed enough to enjoy and even pursue their own learning.
One of the most commonly asked questions we get asked is about socialisation. People are very interested in how our children are learning to get along with others? This seems to be a very big concern for people thinking about homeschooling. I indeed asked this very question myself when we were in the midst of decision-making.
We have discovered that God had this covered from the start in His design of the family. Siblings learning to relate to one another in a warm and nurturing environment is the best way to learn to get along with others outside the family.
We have arguments, disagreements, and sometimes there is a fair bit of yelling between sisters and their brother, but we learn how to live with one another in a safe family unit. This learning then spills over into wider circles of socialisation.
We are involved in a homeschool group of parents and children and we meet weekly. This is a wonderful time for mothers to catch up, and encourage and strengthen one another; sharing homeschool success stories as well as failures, and helping each other through the hard bits.
It is during these catch-ups that I am encouraged the most by simply watching our children getting along and playing in groups of children of multiple ages and stages. We have found that homeschooling has actually allowed more time for socialisation, and we have made some really wonderful and meaningful friendships.
We are so thankful that we made the somewhat daunting leap into homeschooling. We are watching our three children thrive and grow in ways we couldn’t have predicted. We have made deep connections with some beautiful people, and we are thankful that God has provided all that we need.
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