Erin lives on the North Coast of NSW, Australia with her husband and ten children ranging from twenty-three to two years. She has been involved in home education since her teens in the 80s as her family were part of the pioneering home education movement in Australia. Erin and her husband have always home educated their children and live in a home they have been owner building for the past seven years on a large rural property, where they are surrounded by thousands of books. You can read more from Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
We’ve been parenting/homeschooling for over two decades now – doesn’t it sound like a long time? Not sure if it feels long or not ? One of the gifts of having several children over a twenty year span is that our hard won wisdom doesn’t go to waste, as our younger children benefit from our earlier experience.
We’d like to share 9 tips with you that we’ve learnt along the way, in this parenting, home educating journey, come along and travel with us.
It’s All About Relationships
Focus on nurturing relationships; your relationship with your spouse, each child, the relationships between siblings, and your relationship and theirs with Our Heavenly Father. All are of paramount importance and relationships are what this journey is all about. Enjoy one another, create memories, and embrace your unique family culture. You may be a family that enjoys reading together, playing board games, enjoying the outdoors, being active, or all these and more. Treasure this time together, it will pass all too quickly-but the foundation laid now will be the bedrock that holds.
Keep Your ‘Vision’ in Sight
We each embark on Home Education for our own reasons, often a variety of them, but it will always includes a ‘bigger picture,’ a dream, a vision for our children and our family. Whilst some of the reasons we begin this journey are not necessarily the reasons we continue, our vision will further crystallise as we continue. Home Education is a rich, rewarding lifestyle but there will be times when you are bought to your knees. Always keep the vision in sight to encourage and remind yourselves why you are traveling this journey.
Develop Good Habits
Forming good habits are far more important than you may think. I know I didn’t give them enough weight in the earlier years. The habits children develop when young are taken with them into adulthood, the good and bad. Manners, time management, chore skills, personal hygiene, exercise, health choices, work ethic, interpersonal skills, all these and more are developed before leaving home. Focus on instilling good habits.
Foster Strong Interpersonal Skills
Assist your child in developing strong interpersonal skills. Teach him how to communicate and interact with others, individually and in groups as these life skills are important for success in personal and professional life. Seek out opportunities to teach a variety of life skills. Be part of the wider community, give your child a wide frame of experience, and model, instruct and role play how to interact in various situations. Encourage your child to show compassion and kindness to others. Strategise teaching these life skills, don’t leave it to chance, this is part of your parenting responsibility. Encourage independence as your child will be leaving home all too soon – prepare him well.
Know and Accept Your Teaching Style and Your Child’s Learning Style
God created you exactly as you are, unique. Don’t waste time trying to make yourself into someone you are not, or feeling guilty that you are not as talented in the areas it appears your friends or other homeschooling mamas are. Accept yourself as He made you, you have unique talents and they are sufficient, and most of all love your child.
God created your child as He wanted. Don’t wish your child’s learning style is different to what it is, or compare him to others. Accept and tailor your teaching approach to your child’s learning style where you can, and remember there is always ‘more than one way to skin a cat’. Embrace and treasure your child for who he uniquely is.
Immerse Your Family in Rich Literature
Foster a reading culture within your family and read aloud together often. Parents can read to children, or siblings read to one another. If you struggle to read aloud, utilise audio books. Provide quality books for your children to read independently and encourage them to read regularly-model reading and show your children that literature is valued as part of your family culture. The benefits are many; language skills, literacy skills, a rich imagination, and most of all close family connections.
Build a Strong Foundation in the Early Years
Build a solid base for learning by focusing on the 4Rs in the early years. Focus your energies on reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and religion above all else. If you’re needing suggestions I highly recommend All About Reading and Spelling, a solid maths program such as Singapore Maths or mathsonline. I also recommend daily handwriting, using pencil grips and Startwrite or similar programs, while supervising to ensure correct grip and formation.
Ensure Your Child Has a Wide Knowledge Base
Once the foundation is solid, it’s time for your child to broaden their horizons. Ensure that they have a knowledge base across a breadth of topics. Whilst we want to, and should foster our child’s passions and interests they also need to be introduced to areas that may not be of their choosing to ensure they are well rounded in their education. Many a child has homed in on their passions and shown all indications of having found their career path only to do a 360 degree turn at the last minute and follow a path elsewhere. We need to ensure our child is sufficiently skilled and experienced in all areas for a possible about face.
You Won’t Know Everything – Outsource
The truth is that you won’t know everything your child may need to or want to know, particularly as they grow older. Don’t feel daunted because you can outsource. Outsourcing includes online classes, correspondence units, hiring tutors/teachers, finding mentors and various other avenues. You are still the primary educator of your child, you are simply finding resources to fulfil a need.
Finally, remember that you can do this, you have all the tools of success you’ll need. I wish you every joy as you embark upon this rich, wild and rewarding journey ?