Learning at home

I've made a few quick notes on our home schooling journey in case others find some some ideas help with parts of their journey. It can be quite uncomfortable feeling so alone - although today it's more common than it used to be.

You'll notice is I don't use the phrase home schooling. That phrase includes the term school, which carries so many ideas that the aspect of learning is almost a side-show. If you want to know more from bigger picture thinkers, look for people like Ivan Illich, John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. I'm just a Kiwi dad who wanted to give his children a good start to life in a world dramatically different from the one in which I grew up.

The battles we fought (mainly with ourselves but also with bureacracy and even our children) pale into insignificance now. We started not feeling pre-school was right for our oldest. When school time came, we decided to try keeping her home, and then to review it year by year. School was only considered seriously when our teenage daughter thanked us (she inherited my sarcasm) for ruining her for school. She wanted to be with local friends, but wasn't prepared to pay the price of so much time wasted.

She had three years in Canada (turned 20 over there), did a degree in linguistics and Mandarin at Victoria, spent a couple of years in China teaching English, and is currently at AUT doing a second degree to do sign language translation in the medical world, with the idea of adding the legal world to that later. Our son works for Peter Jackson's empire. He knew early on that was his world (but the economic recession meant he didn't get there until the second Hobbit movie), whereas our daughter only found her direction much later.

We moved from very school oriented thinking to a child focussed approach after our first ERO review. We tried hard to do what they suggested - but it was soon obvious that their advice wasn't tailored to our daughter. We thought we were quite cunning the way we approached it, but our daughter smelt a rat as soon as we tried to "fix" things.

At that point we gave up and went with their interests. The one exception was reading. We used some very basic phonics (five minutes a day for a month or so) when he was ready to read. When you want to teach something you will greatly reduce the effort and stress and improve their retention by waiting until they are ready to learn it.

There are many incidents I could go on about - but this brief general picture gives enough of a high level picture that hopefully others can learn from. The two big lessons are don't sweat the small stuff, and children learn more from the way you live than the way than the way you teach (especially the things you wish they wouldn't ????).


Last Modified

Last modified: 05 December 2020.