Meet our next Australian Homeschool Mum. Today we are interviewing Suzie who blogs over at Suzie’s Home Education Ideas.
Tell us a little about yourself and/or your family. Does your family have an interest, hobby or passion?
My family enjoy being outdoors. We enjoy going camping, nature walks, bike riding, swimming, tennis, dirt bike riding and just being in each other’s company.
How long have you been homeschooling?
We have been homeschooling for just over three years now.
Were you homeschooled? Tell us about your school experience?
I was not homeschooled although my young sister and youngest brother were homeschooled for a short amount of time.
Were you always going to homeschool, even before you got married?
I never really thought about homeschooling before my husband and I got married. It was while I was at university that the idea of homeschooling come to me and my husband and I began discussing it.
Would you like to share about how you started homeschooling?
We have always been home educating our children since they were born as our children never went to childcare. We listened to some bad advice and sent our son to preschool for a few short months and then to kindergarten before we removed him a few months later and continued to home educate him. We knew our son wasn’t ready for school and we also knew that the school environment would not suit his learning style or his personality but felt outside pressure to put him into the school system.
Tell us a little about your children
We have three beautiful children. Our son Master M is 8 years old and loves science and maths. Our daughter, Miss L, is 4 years old and is very much a self-directed learner and is very bright. And our youngest daughter, my not-so-little baby, is almost 3 years old and loves having stories read to her and enjoys playing with play dough.
Where do you do most of your homeschooling?
We have a nice balance of our learning occurring outside where my children can play and learn naturally as well as doing more structured learning inside our home in our learning space.
Tell us about your typical day. Do you follow a routine?
We live in the top end of Australia where the weather is HOT! So we spend the early mornings outside playing, exercising, learning and just enjoying the nature around us. We then take shelter inside our cool home during the hot part of the day. While we are inside we start with reading stories together for my son will read to my daughters and I. This is usually followed by some spelling and word activates and possibility some letter, postcard or birthday card writing. We stop for some morning tea and continue with math which is followed by science, geography, history, visual arts or whatever else my children are interested in at that time.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to get ready for the day?
Coffee is always a good start!! On a more serious note, making sure my children are all fed, some housework has been done (a load of washing, dishwasher packed etc) and my children have all had a cuddle and kiss and told that they are loved.
What would you ask for as a homeschooling parent if you could have anything you wanted?
I would ask for more time in my day. I seem to get to the end of my day and still have so many things that still need doing and just run out of time.
What is the hardest time of day for you, as a homeschool parent?
Getting dinner ready is definitely the hardest part of the day. My little one is tired, I am tired and still good food needs to be made and family needs to be fed.
What is the best and/or easiest time of day for you?
The mornings and evenings are definitely the best part of my day. We get to leisurely we up and start our day without the rushing, stress and hassle that school brings. This is the best time of day to connect with my children too. I also love the evenings when my little girls are in bed and my son and I get to share a book together or build a lego master piece while we talk together.
When was your defining moment of deciding to homeschool your children?
My defining moment came when I had been watching that spark and joy slowly dwindle from my sons eye, watching him become more anxious and stressed (he was 5 years old too!!) and then he burst into tears one morning begging me not to send him to school. I never sent him back and applied to homeschool that same day.
Do you ever feel like you haven’t accomplished a thing at the end of your homeschooling day?
There are days when I feel like that but by reflecting on my day, I can see how in many ways, even if no structured learning had taken place, learning was still occurring in incidentals moments throughout the day.
Describe your educational approach.
I think the best label that would fit us is an eclectic approach to home education. Almost all of our learning is child-led learning in that our children follow their interest and we support their learning in whatever they are interested in. We also use parts of the Montessori way of learning in that we keep learning hands on and support and guide our children’s learning rather than teach them. We also use the Charlotte Mason approach in that we use living books (books without twaddle) to learn from when it comes to science, nature, history and other stories.
What is your favourite subject to teach?
Funny thing is that I never really liked science or maths as a student and these are the subject areas that my son loves. So while I have been supporting his learning, my love for these subjects have blossomed which has surprised me.
What’s your least favourite subject to teach?
I don’t have a least favourite subject as whatever my children are interested in, then I am more than happy to support their learning and encourage them where I can.
Do you plan to homeschool through high school, are you homeschooling a high schooler?
We plan to homeschool for as long as it works, as long as our children are happy and learning and if that means through highschool then so be it!
What has been the biggest challenge along your homeschool journey?
When we first started home educating, my biggest challenge was juggling a newborn baby, a toddler as well as a five year old who was learning. Now, my challenges are slightly different as now I have three young people who are learning and keeping up with their learning and their interests is diffidently my biggest challenge as of late.
Do you use a curriculum and if so which one ?
We have two curriculums that we use. The first one is the Targeting Maths curriculum and we use this mainly as a guide as we extend learning beyond the student book and into real life situations. We also use All About Spelling as my son has struggled with spelling as asked for lessons to help him. The rest of the subject areas are directed by child-led interests and filled in by charlotte mason suggested literature.
Are you qualified to teach your children?
Yes I am. I know my children better than anyone else so I know what they like, how they learn and what suits them best. I have been supporting their learning since birth and I intend to continue to do so as they grow.
What is the one “chore” you, personally, would rather avoid?
Cleaning the floors is almost a daily job as we learning in our home but thankfully I have a supportive husband who helps me with the floor and other house work.
What do you do to relax?
Believe it or not I blog for relaxation. In many ways blogging helps clear my head of all the learning my children have been doing and it helps me reflect on what they have learnt and how far they have come. I also enjoy going for a quiet walk by myself and getting some quiet time to think.
What is the hardest thing about homeschooling for you?
Finding “me” time is always hard as there is always house work to be done, food to cook, children to care for and learning to prepare but in many ways, my life is full and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you love most about homeschooling?
Watching my children learn is the absolutely BEST thing about homeschooling. You know that moment when they finally get something and that spark in their eye lights up and off they go….I just love watching that! I love that I am daily building a relationship with my children and making memories that will last a life time. I love that I am able to support them to LOVE learning as this will benefit them for the rest of their life.
What is a favourite Bible story and why?
The story of Hannah and Samuel, without a doubt is my favourite bible story. Having experienced infertility for many years together with pregnancy loss, the story of Hannah and the faith that she had that God would one day give her a baby, gave me incredible strength and hope during those times in my life when all I could see was darkness.
What is your favourite verse in the Bible?
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, t those who are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28
What is your favourite homeschooling book?
At the moment, I have two books that are my “go-to” books and they are Project-Based homeschooling: Mentoring Self-direct Learners by Lori Pickert, and How to Raise and Amazing Child: The Montessori way to bring up caring, confident children by Tim Seldin.
What are you reading at the moment?
Lots of different homeschool blogs!
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Every day that we home educate our children is as perfect as it gets! Of course we have loads of house work, and toys and mess here and there but my children are healthy and happy and get along together, most of the time. So to me that is a perfect day.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new homeschooler, what would it be?
Ignore those that don’t support you, do what works for you and just take each day at a time until you find your groove.
Who would you say has been your biggest influence and inspiration?
MY biggest inspiration comes from my son. I saw such a positive change in my son when we finally took him out of school, not just in his learning but also in his behaviour. I am inspired daily to continue working hard to support my children in their learning. And in return I am learning so much about myself as a mum and as an educator.
Do you have a homeschool mentor?
Who inspires you?
My husband inspires me. He never liked school and did not do very well so he dropped out halfway through high school. Yet, he has followed his interest, put himself through tafe and then university, and now earns a very nice living working in a field that he love.