I never thought I was going to be a homeschooler - I was a teacher, a career woman, for goodness sake! I don't do glitter, or baking. Some people know they are going to homeschool from the beginning, but we never even considered it as an educational option. So, I sent my babies off to school, as you do:
Looking back, with that wonderful insight you get from 20/20 hindsight, school was never really going to work for them. Both are exceptionally gifted - it is recommended that they be double accelerated and have mentors for school to work for them. We managed to get Wombat Girl accelerated by a year, but Video Boy, what with having undiagnosed ADHD (complete with motor dyspraxia and executive functioning issues) was never really going to be catered for adequately.
Don't get me wrong - school is great for a lot of kids. Mine didn't get bullied and they didn't hate it, but when anxiety levels get so out of control you are staring depression in it's 11 year old face, we had to do something different.
It was not long after we had them tested for giftedness, in my mad frenzy of reading, researching, googling, freaking out and general searching for answers, that I came across the book that would ultimately change our schooling lives - Creative Homeschooling - A Resource Guide for Smart Families by Lisa Rivero:
As I read it, I kept thinking to myself "this could really work for us!". It totally made me believe that homeschooling could be an option, yanno, if things got really bad.
Because here, in regional Australia, homeschooling is not something that many people choose. It is growing, but when we decided to homeschool our kids, I did not know one other family who did it - I had some vague image in my head of huge, Christian families, gathered around a wooden table, wearing denim and headscarves and baking. So not us.
Despite this misconception, when things got really bad, homeschool we did. It was a pretty cool last day of school, knowing we wouldn't be coming back:
It's weird enough to be homeschooling in Australia, but to answer the question (usually out of sincere curiosity) "so why do you homeschool?" is still hard for me. Because I have a feeling that if they don't know my kids, my answer of "they were too gifted for school" is going to go down like a lead balloon. I mean really, how conceited could you be to think your kids were too smart for school? So I give some vague "oh, school wasn't working for them" or "they need something different to what school could give them" answers and hope that satisfies them.
Despite our excitement, that first day back at "school" was nerve-wracking. Well, actually, the real first day was fun - because we had found other new homeschoolers and we had a "not back to school" pool party - it was a fabulous way to spend the 35C day! But the next day, when we all sat there and wondered how this was going to work, was making all of us feel nervous. And many's the day where things went pear-shaped and we tried to deal with tears and over-excitabilities (theirs and mine!) and where there was nothing for it but to bake (gosh darn it!):
But we jumped right into it, and we tried things, and some things worked and some didn't and we are still refining and trying out new ways of homeschooling as the kids get older, more adult-like (a mum can dream) and I juggle paid work with homeschooling. And now we are looking at online study options and maybe even university units. The time really is winging by, they are growing older, but there is always time for baking together:
And you know, I'm so grateful that the online world exists - it took one lovely, encouraging comment from a fellow mum of a twice-exceptional boy to push me over the edge to homeschool. I try to give back - encouraging other newbies, particularly of gifted kids, to give homeschooling a go. I share my experiences in forums, on Facebook groups, on this blog and (did you know?) I even wrote a book.
In many states in Australia, you have to write out a Learning Plan to accompany your homeschool registration - and this can freak a lot of non-teachers out. But I didn't want that to stop them from being able to homeschool. So I wrote a book to help them out - to help them decipher all that edu-babble in state and national curriculums, and be able to put together a meaningful plan that will help them educate their kids at home, their way. Personally, if the powers that be needed me to stand on my head to get approved for homeschooling, I would do it, but I think I can help out in the planning department and make the process a little less stressful.
So, if I was going to offer new, potential (gifted) homeschoolers any advice, it would be to Just Do It (I didn't invent that, but damn if it's not a handy little phrase), have a read through Creative Homeschooling and if you are in Australia and need to register, get a hold of Writing a Learning Plan. It seems like such a huge step, this homeschooling thing, and in many ways it is. But sometimes being brave and doing things differently is the most rewarding. Give homeschooling a go - I think you'll like it. I know our muffins certainly have improved in leaps and bounds, if nothing else ;-)
Joining in this month with the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! The theme for August is Homeschooling: Where and How to Begin:
Need more inspiration? Go check out the other posts in the blog hop:
- I Never Wanted Children (Part 1 of a homeschool journey) @ Building Wingspan
- Homeschooling - What Not To Do @ Lynn Elizabeth Marlowe
- Homeschooling 101 - How To Embrace a Child-Centred Education approach @ dirt under my fingernails
- How to Begin Homeschooling If You Don't Know What To Do @ Cedarlife Academy
- A Natural Lesson in Homeschooling @ Red White and Grew