How not to homeschool..

I’m feeling a little jealous. I have just found the most wonderful resource in the shape of, which has a downloadable checklist for navigating the new school minefield in Australia. Frankly, for those of you who are considering a move to Australia, Sarah Husselmann is spoiling you.

Whenever we relocate, schooling is one of our main priorities, but we have a nasty habit of getting snarled up in the inevitable red tape. Our worst moment was the move from Kenya to the US, where we failed to note that you had to be resident in very specific locations to qualify for each local public school, and the only temporary accommodation available was in the wrong city. This meant that we would be enrolling the kids in one school for 6 weeks until the house purchase went through, then moving them for a new school until the summer vacation, after which the Wiggy One would be graduating to Middle school. He was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of four schools in 6 months, so I took what at the time seemed like the kindest decision, to homeschool.

We knew many homeschooled children in Kenya, and all seemed like kind, considerate, well rounded and intelligent beings, with happy smiles, flexible schedules and an excellent relationship with their parents. We envisaged leisurely mornings with no school commute, family breakfast of eggs and fresh squeezed orange juice, happy hours spent poring over inspirational textbooks and wandering the museums and galleries, and evenings spent cooking healthy family meals before a quick sunset bike ride. I was an experienced teacher, after all.

I think it was the arrogant assumption of my own capabilities that turned around and bit me on the bum.

The reality was six weeks of sheer hell, culminating in all family members retreating to opposite corners of the apartment and watching marathon back to back episodes of Hannah Montana, The Simpsons, and Sheer Genius. Despite spending a small fortune on textbooks, how-to guides and varies educational sundries, it soon became apparent that my own algebra classes had been a very, very long time ago, and in a strange reversal of the traditional school stereotype, ย most lessons were going to involve my children explaining the concepts while I grew steadily more irritable. The only activity that I was able to complete with any success was coloring in the various diagrams, and even then I was told off for my inability to share the red crayon.

If you assume, however, that this experience means I am no longer an advocate of homeschooling, think again ( I’m even putting together a checklist, so you too can gain the benefit of my homeschooling experience..). It has had a profoundly positive impact on both of my children’s attitude to schooling. They are now experts at self-directed study, they value excellent teaching, and they enter any new school with anticipation, safe in the knowledge that time at home with their mother is a far more unpleasant alternative.




8 thoughts on “How not to homeschool..”

  1. I admire you for trying even for a short time. I briefly flirted with the idea of homeschooling when we moved to the US (surprisingly major philosophical differences between the English International system that we came from and the American one – a long story!) However decided when push came to shove that it would seriously impair the mother-child bond if I did.

  2. You were wiser than I.. Next time, I think I may just find a competent homeschool mom and exchange services – I’ll clean and cook, she can teach..

    1. Oh my gosh, where were you when I needed you! Haha! We would have definitely struck such a bargain. I would have gladly done the homeschooling end of the deal, anyway.

  3. Sorry had to laugh when reading this, it does sound like a lovely idea but I know I’d be hopeless. Thank you very much for the mention, the transition to the Australian education system can be tricky, particularly given that each state \ territory has slight quirks so parents really do need to be well informed. Love what you’re doing ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sorry, don’t mean to be having a laugh at your expense but this was too funny. Our children’s education is certainly important, but in the end the most important parts end up being a love of exploring, discovering or researching, an inquisitive mind, the ability to converse with others and share views without resorting to Rush Limbaughesque insults (pardon what I don’t intend as a political point), and a love of reading, writing or (hopefully) both. Sounds like your homeschooling endeavor hit the mark afterall.

    BTW, I’m assuming your ‘happy hours’ were actually ‘pleasant hours’ and not the American version ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. That really was funny! I was just talking to another expat mother today and wondering how some women can be so good at homeschooling 5 (or more) children, when we have trouble just getting two to do homework. I find that my children simply won’t believe anything I say or allow me (or their Dad) to show them anything. Then, when the teacher says exactly the same thing in class, they say: ‘Oh, you may have been a little bit right after all…’ And they haven’t even reached their teens yet!

  6. If my attempt at explaining long division to my nine year old – realising they do it differently – trying to take in the new method on the hoof with my daughter glaring at me with disdain is anything to go by my daughter too is safer and happier at school, as is my self esteem!

    I have huge admiration for the commitment and dedication of home schooling parents but I know my limitations – or at least my 9 year old does! Thanks for sharing your story, somehow I feel better!

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