When I was a child, I didn’t know a single person who was home educated. People went to school, unless they lived in the middle of the Australian outback, in which case they did distance education through the School of the Air. Choosing to home educate was a foreign concept to me.
Then I went to university, moved across the country, and met people who homeschooled their kids. The first family I met had seven children. Well, I thought, if you had that many kids it would probably be just as easy to teach them at home than it would be to get everyone out the door each morning. Then I met another family – with eight kids. The mother and I discussed homeschooling – by that stage I had married and had my first daughter, Bookworm. I loved the idea of teaching my own child, but as I said to my friend “I’m just not organised enough to homeschool”. I figured that she had to be organised anyway, to survive with eight kids, and again, it was probably easier for her to teach them at home than to get them all out the door with packed lunches, clean uniforms, and the right sports gear.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was in a different city, where I became friends with a number of families who were homeschooling. One or two were the large families I had grown to expect, but some of them had just three or four children. For the first time, it became in my mind something that one might choose to do simply because one felt that it was the best option for them as a family, and not because they were forced into it by circumstance or because it was too much effort to get out the front door in the morning. I spent time with these people, saw the way they raised their kids, saw the relationships they had with their kids, and envied them. They had something I really would have liked to have a part of, but at that stage it was still an “in a different life, a different circumstance, maybe I would have homeschooled” thing.
Then Bookworm started school. And she loved it. Her school was wonderful, her teacher was brilliant, and we had no complaints. Except that she was so tired. And in my lovely, sweet Bookworm, that came out as stubborn refusal to be reasonable. So every morning, we fought over getting her shoes on to get out the door. Every morning I had to drag her out of bed. Every morning I would drop her at school, feeling like I needed to make up with her before I left her for the day. And then, every evening, we fought over getting ready for bed. I was worn out and fed up, and worse, I was grieving the loss of relationship. And I missed her – she was away for most of the day, and when she was home, she was often so grumpy that she wasn’t much fun to be around. My homeschooling envy got stronger. But I was still convinced that I just wasn’t organised enough to homeschool.
Then my husband sent me a message out of the blue saying that there was a job vacancy on the other side of the world. We decided to go with it, got accepted, and then had to think about schooling. Finding a school from the other side of the globe and sorting out enrolments seemed such a headache. Then one day Bookworm was home sick, and it struck me like a thunderbolt. Maybe homeschooling was the answer. That day, after months of stress and battles every morning, we had a peaceful day. It was such a lovely, relaxing morning. Maybe I didn’t have to be organised to homeschool – no more organised than I had to be to get three kids ready to walk out the door each morning. So we moved, and we started, and 18 months down the track, we love it. Life is busy, and sometimes hard, and I have discovered that I do need some level of organisation to maintain my sanity. But I’m surprised to find that, although I’m disorganised, I’m not too disorganised to homeschool. And that relationship, with my dear, sweet, eldest child? Why, it’s never been better.