In 2006 when I first started homeschooling I thought our homeschooling experience would be a year out of school whilst travelling back to Australia- something convenient and useful to make our transition back into school easier. We started the year in Glasgow, Scotland (our home at the time), spent some time in London, and approx 2 months in Paris before arriving back in Adelaide in June. It was a fabulous 6months of travelling, and over that time I came to love learning as a family. (This process had really begun when we left Adelaide in 2004). Not really knowing anything about home education; other than my sister-in-law had started educating her kids, I felt that I needed a curriculum on how to do it. My SIL recommended a Steiner curriculum (that she was using) and we followed that 5 days a week for grade 1. ( Willow had been attending the Glasgow steiner school's kinde class the previous year). We spent that first year home educating in Glasgow, Paris and Adelaide. We were all enjoying it, and I was finding it was bringing our family closer together.
Learning in Paris
At musee d'orsay
Learning in Paris
At musee d'orsay
Off to see Monet
When we settled back into living in Adelaide, for various reasons, although we'd come to love home educating at the end of year 1, we found a school to send Willow to. Sadly after a brief stint in one school (Willow normally ridiculously talkative was saying almost nothing after school), we tried a second school where even Gabriel was commenting at pick-up time that he didn't want to go there! (There was issues with bullying). During our six months in school- I connected into the home education community in Adelaide and by the time the second term was coming to an end we decided that school was not worth the trouble, and that we had a much more pleasant time home educating.
Initially I felt that I would buy a grade 2 pack to help me with home education, but as I settled back into the idea of it, I realised that I mostly knew where Willow was up to with her work, and that maybe with some guidance I could figure it out myself. In my hunting around I came across Shining Star school in Portland, and discovered the wonderful Mrs M. who shared knowledge and files on how to create one's own plan for home education. In the early days we still stuck to doing 5 days- but gradually we transitioned to 4 days (as we went out once a fortnight on home education outings) and finally we settled on 3 as we found it best to have a home loving day and a catch up with other home educators.
For years now, we have more or less stuck with that arrangement, though presently due to be busy with Irving, we also do a half day of craft, as we have been struggling to fit it in during our other three days. The biggest adjustment to our weekly rhythms has always been the time when a new baby has arrived, and this has involved adjusting how we work, and due to the ages of the children some great lessons on how to take care of babies!
As people have gotten older we've also added in extra classes here and there for things that we haven't personally got the skills to teach. Initially when we arrived back from Europe, we did some French lessons (as Willow in particular had been picking up a bit of French whilst we were there), eventually we added in music lessons and sport lessons. Otherwise we've done some one off classes such as woodwork, science, gardening. We also attend a lot of arts events as Willow is interested in a career in classical music, and to cater to our desire to live learning as well as do some structured rhythms - we tend to have quite extended holidays (we used to take 3months over summer, and follow the general Australian holidays, now we take 3months over Summer, 2 weeks at Autumn, 6weeks over Winter and 2 weeks in Spring.) This gives lots of down time for people to be unstructured.
That said we are now at the stage where Willow has been managing her own time and work, and Gabriel is heading that direction. Willow, Damien and I have discussions and regular catch ups to discuss where Willow's work is at, and anything that requires review from us (such as essays, or written pieces is looked over together, discussed and reviewed until it is at a satisfactory level). We've found many benefits in this scenario and lots of learning happening for all of us- but ultimately Willow is learning how to manage when and where and what she is doing all week.