I get questions all the time regarding all things homeschooling and so I thought I’d put all of them here in one post that I can refer people to or you can look back on for any info! Thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to ask questions and to everyone who is so encouraging 💕.. let’s begin 😂
Would you please share more about homeschooling your girls? How does it all work? Do you get sent a curriculum from somewhere?
Basically, if it’s something you’re seriously considering, the first thing you need to do is research the style of homeschooling you would like to do and see what’s out there. Do you want to unschool which is like child led learning or do you want a set curriculum. When you’ve figured this out, you will need to begin your exemption process (for those based in NZ). Exemptions are basically an essay to the ministry of education explaining how you plan to teach your child and the steps you will be taking to ensure you will teach to a standard as good as if they were at school. You do not need to be a qualified teacher, but you do need to prove you have thought this through. Once that has been accepted, you’re away! I have dabbled in a lot of different curriculums as I find my way on this journey. My style is a mixture of play based, set curriculum and life skill learning. If you want to use a set curriculum there’s plenty of options out there to choose from. A few that I use are ACE, Abeka and Specrum. The beauty of homeschooling is you can pick and choose what fits your style the best. When we first had Allegra I loved ACE for the structure but as she’s getting older I’m able to branch out to my own things. I love getting inspiration from other homeschoolers and seeing what they’re doing. The possibilities are endless. Learning is always and never ending.
What is your routine?
I don’t really have like a set routine as such. We do bookwork on the days Jemima is at kindy because I learnt fast that trying to do school, entertain a baby and a toddler was nightmarish and always ended badly. So Monday, Thursday and Friday we do bookwork, reading out loud, quote writing etc and on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s we take a more life skills and play based approach. Like cooking, and role play games and art etc.
How do you teach children who are all learning at different levels?
I find this not too bad because they each have their own work set out so I work with each one individually at their own level. The thing I find hard is Mila is often left on her own a bit more because she’s a lot more capable and the younger girls require a lot of work. If I find something that I think would be fun for the girls, I’ll just tailor it to suit their individual needs! For example Mila might look up what each organ in the body is used for whereas the girls would just colour in pictures of the Organs. Things like that.
What do you think of the ACE programme and how do you make sure it’s not just all bookwork?
I really like ACE for its structure and ease. Everything is laid out and done for you which was perfect for say in our season of having a newborn. I could just donate books and know they were getting enough. However, over time I do find them repetitive and a bit boring and I don’t want that to be their schooling so now that we are coming out of this phase, I pick and choose other bits to add in with ACE. I’ve kept some subjects and moved to other things for other subjects.
What was the turning point for you? Was there anything significant that made you go from loving the idea to actually going ahead and doing it?
We saw out the year 2016 and over the summer holidays we were having so much fun as a family. The girls behaviour improved dramatically, their relationship with one another was flourishing and we started talking about the idea again. Joshs brother and his wife were already homeschooling and we had a few friends who were as well and one day we just decided that life is short – let’s give it a year and re evaluate. So we did. And so far, it’s been a year and a half and we are still going haha.
What was the initial reaction from family and friends and has it changed over time?
Nobody openly said anything negative but I know there were a lot of hesitant opinions. Both my mum and Josh’s dad are trained teachers and so it’s probably not the ideal situation for them but it hasn’t really been an issue. People have totally noticed the benefits! One thing my mum always says is ‘think how much time during the day you would have Erana, if the kids were at school’! I just don’t think you can get these years back and I’m really enjoying having them at home (mostly haha).
Why did you choose to homeschool?
We felt like we didn’t get a whole lot of time with our kids. It was either the rush of the morning or the rush of the late afternoon! We also believed that so much more learning is available inside the home. Learning is more than 9-3 at school. I felt like the hours were so long but the work could be done in much less time but because of the sheer amount of kids at school, it needed to be that long. I do want to be in control of what my child is learning and the peers they’re surrounded by. School can be such a hard place and I don’t think you need to endure it to teach your kids to be strong resilient people. And lastly the quality time as a family. You can’t get that time back.
Do the girls ever miss going to normal school?
Mila was the only one who truly experienced school. Lucia only went for 2 terms. No they don’t. I ask them regularly of they would like to go back and so far they have said no. No one wants to be stuck there for 6 hours 😂
Do you think you will homeschool when they get to high school?
I think that’s a question I’ll have to ask them when they get there. I might have some that want to go and some that won’t and I think we would discern that when the time came. Currently I don’t really want them to but you never know!
Homeschooling while pregnant and puking?! How did you do it??
You know, I have no idea. I don’t know. I literally think I’ve blocked it out 😂 I took a big break at one stage because it was too much. But other than that, the beauty of homeschooling is you can go at your pace. You can do it in your pyjamas from your bed and the kids are next to you. Also Josh has Monday’s off so he would do that day!
Is there any form of auditing from the government? Does it go by hours or curriculum covered?
Basically no. Unless someone complains about you, no one comes to check. Which means you really have to be owning this for the sake of your kids future because it’s all on you! You get an allowance from the ministry of education that goes towards curriculums and resources. It’s up to you how many hours you want to do and what you want to include.
That’s all the questions for now. A few things/ resources I use :
Online : reading eggs, mathseeds and artventure. I use these as extras, so we still do math and reading workbooks but the girls like doing these as extras. Also good for when you’re busy with another child.
I use a lot of the educational toys from Little and Loved with our work. Lucia uses the Hape Abacus everyday for her maths and loves it. Ivy uses the Peg Board for hers. We also use the Hape magnetic letters for spelling practice and word building. There’s many options on that website for different educational games and tools, I’d definitely recommend a look. Another favourite is the balancing boat game! The variety stores also stock great Phonics books and beginners maths books etc for a great price while yoire trying to figure out what you want to do!
Thanks so much to everyone for showing an interest and all your questions! We love having you guys on the journey.