As a teenager I became very interested in the problems in society – not much different back then as they are today! I wondered why, with such brilliant schooling as we had in Australia, did young people fall through the cracks – teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, delinquency.
I could see that parents played a large part in how their children behaved and the attitudes these young people were developing. I began to wonder if schools alone couldn’t fix the problem – perhaps we needed schools for parents, before they had children of their own! For most of my adult life I’ve rejected and fought against this idea, but it does show that as a young teen I was desperate to come up with solutions that would give all children a better chance at happiness, health and prosperity.
My ultimate aim, even back then, was ‘world peace’. Somehow I knew that only when we have solved the problems at the level of the family could we enjoy more harmonious relationships between nations.
This interest in why schools weren’t doing the job of educating people intensified once I had children of my own. Something unexpected happened though: when our eldest child turned five we realized that we didn’t want to hand her over to strangers to play with and help her learn all day. We were enjoying that job immensely and didn’t want things to change.
Three weeks before her sixth birthday we gave birth to our youngest: we were worried that sending her off to school would look like ‘replacing’ her. We’d been teaching her since birth. Luckily for us we had found out about home education at an alternative lifestyle conference in Victoria and had made contact with home educators in that state.
Very few families home educated their children in South Australia openly at that time – over twenty years ago now! It was hard finding like-minded people and, encouraged by a friend who lived 8 hours away, I started the SA Home Based Learners Newsletter. This began my homeschool writing career. I subscribed to Growing Without School (a USA magazine started by John Holt) and Otherways (produced by a Victorian homeschool cooperative). And I borrowed and bought whatever books I could on the subject! These kept my confidence strong whenever I felt unsure about what we were doing with our family.
Our eldest had a hybrid education, with some part time and full time schooling as well as homeschooling. Our youngest was completely unschooled. What I have learned is that it doesn’t matter how your child is educated, though homeschool is by far way more efficient than school: it is the love and devotion and interest we show in our children that makes the difference to their education as young people.
© Beverley Paine 2008
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