A Homeschooling Blog Post
This homeschooling blog post was only ever written for private readers. If you are here then it is because you found a link in another one of my homeschool posts or I have shared the link with you.
However you arrived here, welcome!
Before I dive into our story of homeschooling I’d ask you to consider taking the short, fun quiz below and joining our newsletter.
That way we can always stay in touch. Homeschoolers need other homeschoolers. It’s the law.
Our Homeschooling Background:
But a few things stopped me from giving it a go.
Having a huge mortgage meant that we couldn’t survive on one wage alone. I owned and ran a café at the time, and I certainly wasn’t going to take two kids under 7 with me to work.
If I’m honest, I dreaded the thought of starting something new – and taking the leap.
And I won’t lie, I was under the impression that homeschoolers were all religious and a bit weird – another reason I didn’t try harder to make homeschooling an option.
Homeschooling remained a distant fantasy. And off to school, my kids went.
Education In A Different Country – New Zealand
In 2009 we emigrated to New Zealand.
House prices there were lower than the UK, and so financially we were slightly better off. I still thought about homeschooling – it had never left my mind – only now, now it seemed like a more attainable goal.
Unfortunately, I still had my fears and worried that taking your children out of school was something that only hippies did, so our first two years of living in New Zealand saw both of my children enrolled at the local primary school.
What School Looked Like For My kids
Although school in new Zealand was a much more gentle experience, school is school. No matter where you are in the world.
There are still twenty-odd children to one teacher, peer pressure is prevalent, and if you don’t know a, b and c, by the time you are nine years old you will be labelled as ‘struggling’.
Sadly, regardless of the fact that the kiwi school my children was a lovely school, all the things that annoyed me about school in the UK were still present in New Zealand.
Getting Involved With The School
I got involved in my children’s school day as much as I could by volunteering in their classrooms as a helper, but this made me want to bring them home even more.
Sometimes you’re best off not knowing what goes on at school.
On the mornings that I wasn’t staying to help, I’d drop them off at school and wave goodbye. I’d go home feeling empty and sad.
There was so much that I knew I could teach them my own way and at their own pace. Everywhere I looked, places were just screaming out to learned about and explored.
While it was true we could go and do these things together as a family, having two days at the weekend just wasn’t enough, and anyway, the children were always far too tired to do anything by the end of the week.
My Reason For Homeschooling
My reason for homeschooling was not your usual answer.
I had always wanted to homeschool but thought that I couldn’t as I wasn’t a teacher. And then I became friendly with a lady who was giving my daughter horseriding lessons. She lived down the road from me, on a farm.
She was German and she unschooled her two boys.
I knew nothing about unschooling and so proceeded to ask all of the typical questions about University and socialising. I told her about my daughter’s misery at school and she asked why I didn’t just take her out of school and try ‘unschooling’.
Next, you could read…
Homeschool Or Unschool?
Unschooling, for those not familiar with the term, is freestyle learning that is very much child-led.
The children decide what they are interested in and then dive headlong into learning about it – in whichever way takes their fancy.
That might mean spending two weeks curled up in front of the fire reading about the world’s highest structures or collecting driftwood from the beach and taking a week to build their own Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I’m not going to go on about my thoughts on unschooling right now, but just know that if I had my seven years again, this is the way I would go.
I admired the lady down the road for homeschooling and unschooling. She seemed so happy and relaxed. The kids were free and always outdoors.
She started telling me about the local homeschooling community that she was part of, about how there were over 200 kids and that they did all this fantastic stuff together as a group.
I did all the research that I could on homeschooling vs public school and began to plan an escape from school.
In 2011 we decided that we would pull in our belts. Cut back on a few things- no more meals out or buying fancy clothes- in fact, no more clothes unless they were second hand.
We would be buying cheaper wine, and swapped our petrol car with an old but affordable diesel Mitsubishi. All of these things would enable us to survive on one wage for a while. And one wage meant that I could homeschool.
Related Posts that You Will Enjoy:
Was Everyone Keen to Make Homeschooling Work?
Brian, my husband:
He was ever supportive. He’s a science man so was excited at the thought of being able to teach the kids something I knew absolutely nothing about. He also had his own heating business, so the possibility that both kids could go to work with him and learn how businesses run was a very exciting prospect.
Sonny and Tessa, my kids:
As you can imagine, were over the moon. Their mum had just told them they could quit school. Why wouldn’t they be excited? Especially Tessa. She was at that beautiful age where the only person she loved more than her Mum was her Mummy.
Me, the mum:
I was excited but scared too. I am a real worry wort I knew it was a massive undertaking and was aware of what the consensus of homeschoolers was. Having been one of those people that thought homeschoolers were weird.
Ten years on and we have lived a life very differently to others.
Now, I would be annoyed if people thought I was normal.
Homeschooling has taught us all that to be different is to be unique.
And to be unique is exciting.
Back then, I wasn’t aware of this and so was just a tiny bit terrified and worried about what people might think of me.
How Old Were The Children When You Started Homeschooling?
Sonny and Tess were ten and seven respectively when we started to homeschool.
Initially, we told everyone that we were just going to try it for a term. After the first term came to an end, I kept hold of my safety blanket by saying that we would just homeschool until the end of the year.
That year turned into six without me noticing.
I am in no way an expert on homeschooling, but I know what has worked for us and what hasn’t.
In the nine years that we have been at home, we have had lots and lots of fantastic times. But we have also had many tears.
Mostly always mine.
It’s hard being the Mum. Especially when that same mum has to tell her daughter that she needs to learn how to spell and try and explain what the hell an STD is.
Know that if you are going to undertake to homeschool your kids, then you will need to be gentle with yourself. I suggest practising some self-love exercises – the one person that has to believe that you can do this is YOU!
The First Six Years of Our Homeschooling Journey
Your homeschooling journey will look completely different to mine. But in the first six years, before I tried to homeschool and work full time, our homeschooling journey was very special.
Like I said, not always easy, but then nothing is. That’s fine. This is how our homeschooling journey looked for the first six years.
Where We Learned
My children have learned mainly on the beach and at our kitchen table. They have learned by living. If they’ve wanted to do a project on pollination we have spent hours laying in a field watching a bee going from flower to flower.
If they ever showed an interest in British history, we would spend a week watching BBC documentaries.
What we Learned
Before I turned to a high school online maths programme, Maths was always done by using Singapore Maths Books. They are apparently the best in the world, and we used them for five years. And yes, it is a fabulous, thorough programme and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
It is a little pricey but I don’t know where to start with maths so this is not a subject I could bluff.
I’m rubbish at science. I try, I really do, but ask the kids…every single experiment that I’ve ever done has failed. Stupendously I might add, but still, a fail.
I’d spend days researching how to get the yolk of an egg to the outside by spinning it really fast in a pair of tights. I’m not joking; it was a bloody disaster. The kids would almost wet themselves with laughter at my attempts.
It not only cost me a small fortune in eggs and tights but in the end, I forgot why I was even doing the experiment.
Thankfully I found lots of free science course online and used this science experiment book which was brilliant and wonderful.
English, History, Geography.
We LOVE to travel so right from the beginning of our homeschool journey these subjects were never going to be hard!
We did lots and lots of reading in those first six years.
Reading covers everything. Don’t forget that. If all you do for five years is read a range of books with your kids, they will learn a MASSIVE amount.
We would spend hours reading on the beach or in the garden. Every time we went in the car, we would listen to a talking book. I could fill pages and pages of the books that we have read, but I just want to recommend the ones that taught my kids (and me) the most.
Books That I Would Recommend For Kids Under 12 Who Homeschool.
Red Sails To Capri
Another fabulous book for any child under the age of 12 (and Mothers who are 48). Red Sails To Capri Teaches about Europe, integrity, adventure and business.
The Little Riders
The No Cell-Phone Policy When Homeschooling
Homeschooling was easier when the children were younger.
Although it demanded more of my time, it was more straightforward. No phones or gadgets vying for their attention.
For the past three years, we have had a no-phone policy while my kids are doing school work and I put this down as one of the reasons I consider our family to be successful homeschoolers.
It’s quite hard to police it though. Short of putting the phones down my pants, so they can’t find them, both of my kids always seem to find a way to get hold of their phones.
Of course, when confronted about this, the answer is always the same… “I’m just checking the time.”
We don’t have clocks in our house you know.
We Took Our Teenage Homeschoolers Travelling. Here’s One Of The Videos They Made…
Homeschooling & Working Full Time. (What it Looked Like For Us).
- Homeschooling while working full time. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible, especially not if your kids are teenagers and are capable of sitting with the work that has been assigned to them.
- As your kids become older, your homeschool routine will change and adapt. By using more online tutors your time will be freed up. As mine was.
- This was probably the insane reason I decided to start my own business again and believed that I could manage both homeschooling and working full time.
- I am addicted to starting new ventures; I get a real buzz from it. I was ready for a new challenge and so decided to build a touring theatre in education company.
- This I did, and it was a huge success. But what was supposed to be a part-time venture took over nearly 40 hours a week of my time for a year. I was homeschooling and working full time, and it wasn’t easy.
- The trouble was not being able to give 100% commitment to either one or the other. I tried to balance both, but in the end, it was too much.
- Educating at home while working full time. It’s not easy. Yes, it helped that the kids were both involved in my business, but at the same time, It was a massive juggling act.
- Sonny was 15 at the time, and he coped fine. He is doing exams through a correspondence course. He’s very independent. I’m only there to advise him on assignments, nag him to get on with his work and tell him to get off Facebook.
- But Tessa? She was only 12 and had to take a bit of a back seat.
- Although I don’t think it did her any harm, in fact, it was probably good for her to see her mum create a business from scratch and then make it all work, I also know it wasn’t easy for her.
- She has been used to having me there to help her and to arrange science experiments that would fail. Yes, it’s made her a lot more independent, but I don’t think either one of us was ready for it, or particularly enjoyed what it did to our homeschool routine.
- I quit the business and returned back to full-time homeschooling.
- Three years later and I am now, once again, homeschooling and working full time, but this time it is different. It is a success. My daughter is older and I have lowered my expectations. I now know that kids learn with or without traditional lessons, so I am able to trust in myself a lot more.
Why not listen to our latest podcast episode? Me and my now 18-year-old homeschool son talk about what worked and what didn’t in homeschooling. Have a listen below!
I hope this homeschooling post gives you a glimpse into our journey. I don’t know about you but I love knowing about other stories (and I consider ours a success!).
If there is anything else that you would like to know about homeschooling then contact me (or leave a comment below) and I will do my best to help.
I ALWAYS answer any comments or email enquiries personally. Take care fellow homeschooler! Liz x