A long time ago, in a land far, far away there was a family of 6, living a happy, ordinary life. No thought of homeschool and no reason to. School was something you just went to when you became of age. That fateful day came, and off IrishWrath went. He was a shy, reserved lad, but fared well enough. It was a Gaelscoil (Learning in Irish through language immersion), it was rigorous , and we felt he was doing well. The beautiful green homeland full of friendly smiling Irish eyes but wet. Very, very wet. We yearned for sea, sun, and sangers. So we packed our bags, and emigrated to Australia.
We enrolled IrishWrath in a small local catholic school here in Melbourne. When the time came, our second and third were enrolled. It was a nice school, with only 98 children when Irishwrath started. Unfortunately, we were never happy with the academics. We often talked to the teachers about the differences between this school, and what we had encountered in Ireland. Here for example, there was no rote learning. IrishWrath would sit in a class and watch the kids struggle with basic math, but the times tables that were drilled into him in Ireland made him excel. Homework was often not corrected. And the kids seemed to spend a lot of the day just sitting around, waiting for others to finish, or listening to the teacher lecturing the naughty kids. There was a lot of naughty kids. One particular teacher, IrishWrath’s last one, highlighted the general attitude. He said that spending too much time on learning spelling and handwriting was unnecessary as kids would be using spell check and word as adults.
The longer our boys were there the more we realised it wasn’t a good fit for us. One beautiful summer day, on complaining to a friend that the school just didn’t feel right for my boys, she said “Why don’t you homeschool?”. “What ?”, I said, ” I can do that! I’m not qualified!!” I spent the next few months researching homeschool. We after-schooled IrishWrath for a few months, to get a feel for things. The half way throughout 4th grade we pulled him out. The school wasn’t too happy about it, but that wasn’t my problem. Three months later IrishCyborg came home. After completing his first and last year at school, IrishDoom came home too. That was 4 years ago. We have never looked back. IrishKing has never been to school, though I threaten him with boarding school often!
We started homeschooling for a purely academic reasons, but the reasons we continue have multiplied. Now our boys have lots of time to play, make mud sculpture, create, and be kids. They learn every day, but not by someone else’s schedule. If it’s a beautiful day we go to the beach, if we hit a brick wall we slow down and go at the child’s pace. Our kids have one-on-one instruction with a teacher that has a vested interest in the future, loves them unconditionally, and knows how much to push, and when to hold back (most of the time).
You can read a little more about our homeschool style on our The Pioneer Woman interview.