NBTS = Not Back to School
So while millions of parents Australia wide have sent their little ones off to school, rushed around having school shoes fitted, covered books and got stuck in traffic….we choose to continue homeschooling our girls. Of course we aren’t alone (and while there has been some negative press about homeschooling recently) – homeschooling is on the rise. A solution for everything from shy children, bullying, special needs or even as an alternative for those not being able to afford private school thousands of kids in Victoria alone are now being homeschooled.
While I don’t normally participate in taggings or things like this but, as most of you know after my National Homeschool Week series, I am all about educating people about home education and that it isn’t just for hippies and christian fundamentalists (not that there is anything wrong with those people…). So along with other Aussie Homeschool Bloggers this week I will be introducing my students. Without photos…and names withheld (for privacy).
Enjoys all things girly. If she had red hair (she is a blonde like her father) she would look just like me at her age. Smatterings of beautiful freckles all over her adorable nose and cheeks. Lean and lithe she loves to dance. She loves all things vintage and the thing she wanted most for Christmas was a sewing basket (which she got). She loves history – devouring history books and historical fiction and biographies. An interest in history and culture has also led to an interest in learning language with her requesting to study both Latin and French this year. Top that off with an absolute head-over-heels love for Shakespeare and we have a not so typical year 7 student. She has read (and re-read) Julius Cesear, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Nights Dream – with her currently writing her own version of A Midsummer Nights Dream. She loves to learn but can become paralysed with fear when asked to answer something on her own. She was bubbly a vivacious when she started school but by year 5 had stopped eating and couldn’t sleep as she was so wracked with anxiety. A teacher once made fun of her in front of the whole class for her slow writing and it took almost a full year homeschooling before english lessons weren’t met with tears. She also is a big Harry Potter fan and loves fantasy type novels. She is coming into her teen years and spends spare time dancing around her room listening to whatever the latest teen music is, hand sewing or embroidering and reading. She used to want to be a teacher, but since coming home from school that has passed. She now wants to be either a ballerina or a Paediatrician.
Gifted is probably to little a word to describe this ones capabilities. Like all her sisters, she loves to read (having read books 1-9 of How to Train Your Dragon series three times since Christmas). She loves chess (and has been beating her father for more than a few years). She has a quick mind and razor sharp wit. When she laughs she does so with her whole body. Standing a good few inches taller than her younger sister, she grows like a weed. It seems just as though we have spent another few hundred dollars on clothes, than she has grown out of them. She will happily read quietly in her room (yelling across the hall to tell her twin sisters to be quiet) for 10 hours straight. She also loves to draw. Not only is she a talented drawer, but her writing is exceptional. I get so caught up reading her stories I forget that they were written by a ten year old. Just 6 months out of school she participated willingly in NaNoWriMo writing a novel of 9000 words in 30 days. But everything comes easy to her. Maths is no problem, english – easy, history – fascinating (but again super easily memorises facts, dates and numbers), science…well she was homeschooled from part way through grade 3 and started with year 9 chemistry….but it was too easy. If she was still at school she would be in grade 5, but works at the same level as her older sister (around grade 7). For so long I heard “school is so easy” and she would come home with straight A’s (under the current Victoria primary school reporting system I think A means 1-2 years ahead of where she should be). What she was trying to say is “school is boring”. 3.5 years in and she was bored sensless. If she wasn’t so lovely natured she could have turned absolutely obnoxious in class. Homeschooling has meant challenge for her. She loves it. She is the first one at the school table in the morning and will pick up extra activities any where she can. While she loves playing soccer, she has no interest in watching it. The few times her team has gone to see a game she has chosen to stay home and do something with her hands or head instead. She spends hours designing furniture/cubby houses/toys and almost cried when she opened a tool box on Christmas day that included a cordless drill and jigsaw (all to be used under supervision…but I am still sure my Mother in Law called DHS on me). When she grows up she wants to be a Vet.
8 years old and identical to her sister (born just ten minutes after her) – blonde and blue eyed, but these eyes sparkle with mischief. 99.9% of the time she is deliriously happy. She laughs and sings and never sits still for more than a second. But when she is tired you can see the storm clouds closing in and all of a sudden our happy girl takes to screaming and crying about anything and everything. Another avid reader – she loves stories of boys and girls up to any sort of mischief. Happy and eager to learn, but can not sit still. While I read our grammar lessons in the morning she runs around the table. We have almost been homeschooling for two years now and I am only just relaxing enough to let her do it. She can recite everything back to me so she is learning….but I doubt she would have gotten very far in a classroom setting. While she is happy to do any work set out for her she prefers DOING something – taking our paints to the park, science experiments and making pyramids out of lego. But she is a homebody (pretty much the only thing besides looks she has in common with her twin). She loathes leaving the house in the morning and will make her point known (oh yes…almost 6 months of school runs nearly killed me). If she ever sits still long enough for me to find out what she wants to be when she grows up I will let you know.
Quiet, reserved and an almost elegant air about her, twin B is in most cases the opposite of her identical twin. She is also the dominant twin. While her sister is happy almost anywhere doing anything, this one prefers her sister doing exactly what she wants her to do. Splitting them up at school was horrific for her. She was lost without her other half and when she was bullied on the first day (kicked in the shins) she sat in shock not telling anyone. You see they are each others strength. If one is scared, the other is brave for her. If one is bullied, the other stands up. It is the most intense and beautiful relationship I have ever encountered. Splitting them up was the single biggest parenting fail ever. She loves to read to – with a preference for Enid Blyton and Curious George. She is also a wonderful student – eager to learn. But if you think you can rush her, your kidding yourself. It would be easier to turn the sky green than to get this one to hurry for anything. She lives in her own little world where time, clearly, runs differently than here. Of course there is nothing wrong with taking your time – her handwriting is just beautiful and everything is spell checked (with a dictionary if necessary) and makes sense even if she has to re-write it ten times. When she grows up she wants to build houses. She wants to design them and physically build them and thinks it silly that they are two separate professions.
They are my daughters and students. They could have remained with the same teacher for their entire school career and the teachers would still never know them as well as I do. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I can see if they are struggling with something instantly and not have to wait til test time. I can cater to their interests, their needs and their abilities better than anyone and no one could ever convince me otherwise.
I have watched my daughters bloom and excel since removing them from the school system. I have watched them become absolute individuals. I have also watched them become incredibly close. I thought we had a tight knit family before homeschooling, but now….the support of one another, the love and respect they have for each other makes this mama bear very, very proud.
next week: Our curriculum choices and plans for the school year!