Chai chat...with Marie
Hi! I’m Marie and I’ve been home educating for ten years. I’ve shared most of my life with my awesome husband. We live on the land with four of our five children who enjoy helping dad and raising dogs, calves, ducks, goats and pigs. Two of our daughters have graduated so far and we’re blessed to be the grandparents of a precious granddaughter. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to live this life with them and I’m counting each second as precious. In those rare moments when there’s time to breathe and cappuccinos and chocolate are bliss, I love to read, walk and journal. Above all, I love my Saviour and exploring His exquisite creation brings me much joy.
Website: Nature Study Australia
Facebook: Nature Study Australia
When and why did you decide to Home Educate?
We decided to home educate ten years ago when we consistently found the values we were trying to instill in our children from a young age were being undermined by the system. I was horrified with the quality of books they were bringing home as readers and we also grew tired of the persistent bullying one of our children was receiving on a daily basis.
What kind of approach do you take?
We don't have one single approach as I've implemented a few which work for our family. So we're a bit eclectic, Charlotte Mason, project based, home educators with a Christian flavour.
Where do the children do most of their work? and do they distract each other?
Our children work in the dining area mostly or wherever they feel comfortable. They also have individual work spaces but I find these are not used often. It's more like a place to store their school work and books. Sometimes we work outside on the deck or sit side by side on the couch.
What is your favourite thing about Home Education?
I love to spend time with my children and do fun things together as a family. We have the freedom to organize our days and if we'd like to go swimming in the lake or go bush walking, we can pack the books up for the day and do just that. I've found the children have learned so much on these spontaneous outings by exploring rock pools, beach combing or observing the wildlife on bush walks. We've encountered kangaroos, emus and wombats on our walks and it was quite exciting to see them in the wild.
What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable?
We focus on the main subjects like English language, Math, Social Studies and Science mostly while we implement nature studies into these subjects as much as we can. We write stories and research reports about what we've encountered on our outdoor expeditions as well as read poetry and books on the topic. We'll include art by making journal entries in our nature diaries. To save time, I try to integrate our subjects and immerse all the children in a topic at their individual abilities and interests.
We have a very loose timetable in that I have a list of what we'd like to accomplish next without racing the clock. I find rushing from subject to subject steals our peace and the children don't retain much information as they're constantly hopping from one thing to another.
What do you find most difficult and why?
The most difficult thing I found was trying to give all my children my attention at once as their ages varied from Kinda to high school. But once I integrated subjects and immersed them all into one topic it was more manageable. Our one on one time is working fabulously and I feel a lot more relaxed as at times I'd be hearing "Mum!" at the same time from five kids.
How do you react to people asking about socialization, do your children easily socialize and work well with others?
In the beginning of our home school journey I was annoyed with the socialization question as it was the first question I'd be asked when anyone learned we home schooled. But now, I just explain our children are well socialized since they encounter a variety of people from babies and toddlers to adults and are able to either play games with the young or hold adult conversations with those who engage with them. Our children are helpful and enjoy working alongside others.
Have family supported your decision?
Our family did not support us when we first began home educating the children. But since we've graduated two of our daughters I'd like to think our decision has been accepted and is respected.
How do you incorporate Physical Education into your Home Ed days?
I don't need to. Our children are active by nature and they have many farm chores which keep them fit and busy. Besides this, they take part in club sports like netball, footy, tennis and basketball.
Do you plan and how far in advance?
I plan a year in advance but I'm quite flexible in that at times we've chosen to study other topics or subjects instead. This is often directed by the children's interests or other opportunities that arise throughout the year. I write my plan in pencil and I use an eraser often.
What's a typical Home Ed day like?
We start with Morning Time which consists of Bible readings, poems and stories and move into One on One time where I'll spend thirty minutes with a child in either English language or math. It depends where they need my help. While I'm working with one child the others continue with their individual assignments I've set for them.They're not allowed to interrupt me during this time and have learned to work on something else while they wait for their one on one time with me. After lunch is our Block time where we spend four weeks at a time on a science, history or geography topic. I find that when the children are immersed in a topic for sometime they learn and retain more information.
Do you spend a lot of money on resources?
No, I don't spend a lot on resources as we all work together on some subjects. We also use the library and the internet which is free. I spend the most money on great living literature as we are all avid readers. My aim is to build a library my children and grandchildren can use in an effort to save them time and money in the future.
How do you make time for yourself?
As a young mother of five children it was almost impossible to have time out. I eventually accepted that it was unrealistic to think I may have time to myself during that season of my life. Now that the children are all older, I do have a little time to dabble in my hobbies.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their Home Ed journey?
Relax! Don't stress! Enjoy your children. Don't bring "school" home. Rather find and explore ways of educating your children which will work for your own family. Don't replicate what other home ed families do as what works for them, may not work for you. Don't compare your home school or children to others. Our families consist of unique individuals and every home school should look different. Work with your children's interests and abilities, not against them. And lastly, remember to take time out. It's OK. Really!