One family’s experience of beginning homeschooling and finding their way…

We are a family of four originally from Australia but now living in Dubai. Home Schooling our kids has been one of the biggest decisions for us. We became interested in Home Schooling when we were living in Bahrain 4 years ago and read so much information on it from every website known to mankind. It all made sense to us. However, making the decision to actually do it was a huge leap of faith. We moved back to Australia and our son started school at a Steiner School. (We have 2 children who are 7 and 4) This is a schooling system where the whole child is taken into consideration. Body, Mind and Spirit. I personally feel that the Steiner way is a good way and in theory it is. Our son was coming home exhausted every day, was frustrated at the end of the day that he didn’t get to do the things he wanted to do, and started to lose the things that made him unique to himself. I am still hearing tales from that period where he felt other children were not treating him with the respect that he and every one of us deserve. I noticed that in the 3 days that he had off for the weekend, day 1 was extremely difficult with wild mood swings and extreme tiredness. Day 2 was a little better and by the 3rd day he was finally back to himself, just in time to go back to school and start the whole process again. It just didn’t sit well with us and didn’t seem like it was a natural thing to do -this school thing, and we looked into Home Schooling again. We read copious amounts of books on the subject and thought and talked about it day and night for weeks until we were ready to take the plunge and commit to doing it. It was a huge decision for us. We then had to tell our relatives and deal with their expectations and opinions and the openly dismissive way in which they regarded us for ruining our children’s lives. This sure isn’t for the faint hearted. We have been doing it now for 2 years. We read a lot about Unschooling in the process and it made a lot of sense to us. Our days are run in an intuitive way where we don’t know what the day will bring but are surprised all of the time by what occurs during that day. Every day is different and it’s not all a bed of roses; it comes with a full set of thorns too. I read somewhere that 80% of the jobs that our children will do when they are older do not actually exist yet. How can we prepare them for that in a school system that hasn’t changed much in the past one hundred years? We have to change with the times. I believe that if we encourage them to stay connected to themselves by not filling their days for them, their natural abilities and interests come out and their natural enthusiasm for learning becomes evident. They do have moments of boredom – but usually 5 minutes later an incredible idea comes about that they will fulfill with their drive which sees the idea put into fruition. We also have days that we (as parents) wish would end so we can go to bed and rest as these projects don’t stop at 3 p.m. We have just had 3 months of staying in hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi while waiting for our house to become available. Whilst it hasn’t been easy without a home, it has shown us that you need very little to continue and sustain the learning process. We met some wonderful fellow Home Schoolers in the pool at the hotel – our 2 children and the other 2 children all get along like wildfire. They have become very competent swimmers naturally. We learned all about Ramadan during the month at the Hotel and have experienced If tar with glee. We watched and learned about the moon cycles. We have met some wonderful people all from different cultures, who we have had time to get to know as we haven’t had to rush to do things (like school) Our children have had an opportunity to develop friendships with other children and adults that would not have been possible had they gone to school. There have been so many learning opportunities in these past 3 months and they are not likely to forget them as they happened naturally through daily life. Occasionally we are met with people’s negative opinions about Home Schooling (I guess every Home Schooler is met with this) but on a whole I am often surprised by the positive way people comment on our way of life. “Yes I agree” they say (even when their kids are in school). Home Schooling is not easy, but neither is sending your kids to school and dealing with all of the negatives of that. My husband and I like who our children are, we like who they are becoming and are so pleased we jumped ship to follow this way of life.

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