Written by Maria | Maria Luves
It was almost the end of a balmy Australian summer, and I had just had the most exhausting week of my life. I sat in the cool of my lounge room, holding my son. He was a little over a week old, and he had been born after 30 hours of labour and an eventual c-section. I was knackered.
Whether it was a tiredness induced mirage, or the kind of daydreaming that comes by the way of divine inspiration I will never know. I suspect I’d had pizza the night before or something.
This is what I do know. As I held that beautiful boy, I had a vision for his future. I could see the kind of man, I wanted to raise.
- I wanted him to be independent.
- To him to think for himself and know his own mind.
- I desired for him to have the opportunity to discover what he was good at, and have the time to develop those skills.
- I wanted him to have the kind of childhood that I had, carefree and built around family and fun.
- And I wanted to raise a man of character.To possess his own values and morals and to live well in the world.
- I wanted him prepared for life.
I am sure there were other traits too, but it was a long time ago. He will be 23 in February, I of course am still 21 (it’s a miracle I tell you)! As he stared back at me with the biggest almond eyes, I envisaged what life would be like for him as a man, it was then that I knew that we needed to home educate. In the words of the infamous Chicken Joe (of Surf’s Up fame)- I could feel it in my nuggets.
I had been fortunate to hear of home education as a teenager, when I made some friends who had been home educated. I then came across it again in University, where bizarrely I had a lecture on different educational philosophies. People like Charlotte Mason, John Holt and John Taylor Gatto were held up as a wonderful example of what education can be like, when it is not all about curriculum. I hooked, already convinced of the educational value of it. In retrospect it was odd, very odd that I had been hearing about home education and it’s merits while training to be a primary school teacher. But it was a lecture I will never forget.
I would be lying if I told you it was all smooth sailing from that moment on. My husband needed some convincing as he had never heard of it before. I was so excited the first home ed conference I took him too. I felt I had found my people. He felt like he was on the edge of the lunatic fringe.
Eventually he agreed to give me a trial year, if we (read he) didn’t think it was working by the end of the first year of kindergarten, then we would reassess it. You can bet your sweet patootie, I made it work. We have never looked back.
In retrospect, the benefits have been much more encompassing than just education. As our family grew, and his career changed, we found that we had to move around. Renting houses, was far easier when we weren’t tied to school districts. It was also a big part of our decision to pack up our life in Australia and move to Manchester in 2008. We could build in travel opportunities for the children.
They got to see castles, monuments and buildings older than those built in the late 1700’s early 1800’s for instance, something totally foreign to them. They could visit famous sights both here and in Europe and experience other cultures. We could broaden their world and in turn their minds because we weren’t tied down to ‘school’ and term times.
Fast forward to the present day, and I am happy to tell you that we have had our first university graduate. My son (22), did go on to discover his interests, starting a YouTube channel as a teen, he developed a love for film making. This lead him to University where he graduated earlier this year with first class honours. Our second daughter (20) at Nottingham Trent University studying Textiles and Design and our third (18) at Plymouth University, studying Animal Behaviour and Welfare. We have one in high school (16), and our youngest (10), is still home educated. They’ve all had various jobs, and have been employable.
I find it fascinating that each of our kids so far, have gone on to study areas they discovered a passion for as children. Some more academic than others, some more creative, and others more entrepreneurial, they have ended up doing what they love. They have discovered themselves, and in doing so have discovered what they like.
No doubt these end goals are achieved every day by kids that go to school as well, and that’s fab, I mean after all nobody wants children to be failed. But for us, I look back on the days of my children growing up, and as hard work as it sometimes was, and as full on (when they were all younger) it could be, and as tiring as some of those days felt at times, we had the most wonderful life together.
We tried so many different things, and experienced new places, activities, living history, met oodles of people, travelled, took classes, learnt together, cooked, learnt crafts, developed their life skills and found time for each child to develop their own passions and interests outside of the home.
Educationally it obviously works, as our kids have been educated. But the pay offs have been far richer and deeper than we could have asked for, or expected.
I am over the half way mark now, I have more grown up, than not, and more in institutional settings than not. But if you were to ask me if, I would do it all again?
It would be a resounding hell yes!