Simple Family Life - Part Five

29 April 2008
I love reading about some of the readers here in Rhonda’s Our Simple Lives posts this past week. It is so uplifting to read of others’ journeys different and similar to my own. Thank you all for sharing.

I have decided to post an adapted article about home education I originally wrote a few years ago for a newsletter. I hope to write guest posts for Down To Earth again, but this is the final of my five-part Living Simply series for April. Thank you to Rhonda for allowing me to write from my heart and trusting that what I have to say might be of interest to others. I feel honoured to have contributed to this highly regarded online space again.

Home education is an intrinsic part of our simple life. If it weren’t for home ed., things would be much more complicated, and I think more expensive! This doesn’t mean that schooling families can’t implement a lot of the living-simply ideas shared here by Rhonda and myself, but being at home with my children has really allowed me to weave the routines into our days. I could go on and on about our homeschooling days, but I think that sharing the why? of home education in Australia will help others to understand the essence of what we’re doing.

My children have time to cook and garden with me. We can spend hours choosing a pattern and fabric remnant from my stash to sew some clothes. Their animals are an important part of their lives. We create presents and cards together. We go out to pick fruit and come home to make preserves. We meet interesting people in our community who have much to share. Our children’s consumer expectations are generally lower than their schooled peers. Daily discussion topics include Peak Oil, relocalisation, relevant history and current affairs to explain what is really going on in the world, spiritual matters, environmental issues and more. We’re very aware of the ‘real world’ and feel that we’re more in touch than most schooling families because we have the luxury of time together to discuss and study what matters to us. Life is full and chaotic, but it’s our chaos. I feel blessed to be responsible for educating my own children at home.

I hope you enjoy this article.

Why Home Based Learning?

“Children are being freed to learn as nature intended” – just one comment I love from my research into why Australian parents are homeschooling their children. I asked friends and mailing list members, read comments from studies on the subject, and gathered some reasons as to why so many are taking the plunge into home based learning in Australia.

Some parents actively choose to home educate. They make the decision sometime – whether when their children are infants (and even earlier), or when they feel dissatisfied with their children’s schooling for any reason. Some parents feel that there was no other choice. They may have exceptional children (ranging from those labelled “learning disabled” to those with apparent giftedness – and many others in between), or their children are sick or injured, or unable to cope with the stress of school, or they are geographically isolated. In most of these cases, school was the original or preferred choice, but it just didn’t work out for the families involved – they feel that home education is the only option left for them. Yet, most declare that it is the best thing to happen to their families and continue with homeschooling even if the original hurdles are overcome (eg: in case of illnesses or living in a remote area).

Many parents lament that at 4,5 or 6 children are too young to hand children over to a system that is seen as having many flaws at the moment. Beverley Paine (homeschooling pioneer) explained, “We loved April and didn’t want to miss a minute of her five year old life.” I think many home educating parents utter a resounding “hear, hear” at that touching comment. Indeed, these early years are a sensitive time for the little ones. Many argue that it the ideal time to begin academics – the children are so open to new ideas and often learn at an accelerated rate – but at what cost? Pioneer homeschool authors Raymond and Dorothy Moore, in their book ‘School Can Wait’, give a great deal of evidence that early academics and separation from parents can do a great deal of harm.

In my research, parents reiterated that the freedom home based learning allowed them was the greatest gift. Time with their children, without the constraints of the school bus, cut lunches, school uniforms and a lot of rushing was what they valued most. Others stated that the upholding of family values and their religion are the main reasons they chose to educate outside the system. It is true that most schools today in Australia are not inclusive of all belief systems, and logically so – with so many people in an artificial social structure it would be near impossible to be so diverse in their curriculum alone!

I was touched and enlightened by a comment that home education allowed a child to evolve as a spirit at her own pace, to grow beyond what a school environment would allow. One caring mother said, “Maybe some of us homeschool out of curiosity of the possibilities. I’m sure that’s part of why I do.” And that gentle statement rang true with me. I see my children and can imagine how a school education would shape them – in and out of the classroom. I know I don’t like those possibilities. I can see the difficulties in home education and be hopeful that any obstacles are outweighed by benefits. The mother quoted above also said to me, “I think living in the inquiry and continuing each day and being open to questions allows the flexibility that gives her the space she needs to grow. And I don’t think that’s a bad place to be.”

Some parents argued that, due to the pitfalls of attending most Australian schools, home education is an ideal, holistic environment to learn. They see home based learning as a near-perfect, tailor-made education, superior to even the “best” private schools available. The school community commonly resents this attitude; they see it as elitist and therefore un-Australian. I must admit to subscribing to the idea that home education offers the Individual Education Plan which schools hope to offer, but logistically are unable to manage. We were taught at University, during my Bachelor of Education, that this was the way of the future. Over ten years on, there is still mass-production schooling happening in almost all Australian schools. Perhaps I am the only student of my class able to put theory into practice as a now home educating mother of six?

Parents are deciding to home educate for many reasons. Each family has its’ own list of reasons and its’ own method of conducting their home based learning journey.

Home Education Association
Aussie Homeschool Classifieds
Home of Learning
Joyous Learning
Home Education Posts on my Blog

* Fifth in a series of five guest posts by Belinda Moore. Here are part one, part two, part three and part four of this series.


  1. Hi Bel :) Thanks again!
    Like you, I am blessed to have the privilege of schooling my sweeties at home. I don't want to miss a single thing!

    It's been a joy to read you here. I appreciate the way you have shared your heart with us. Blessings! Q

  2. I can't wait to have children (still in the process of adopting) to homeschool. Josh and I have planned on homeschooling all along because we believe it is the best way to ensure that our children get an excellent foundation. We also don't want to miss out on their life. We've waited too long for them!!

    Excellent post!


  3. Thanks Belinda, what a great article.
    I am a former teacher and my children go to a new, very small private school. Although we are happy with how things are going I still believe that education takes place in the home first and foremost. If we weren't happy I would have no hesitation in pulling my sons out and bringing them home to learn.
    I would love to be able to travel around Australia and 'homeschool'. I think it would be a great 'life learning' experience.

  4. Thanks for a great post!

    Homeschooling is starting to become more "known" in the UK... though is it still considered by many an "odd" thing to do..

    I wanted to homeschool my two children but sadly my husband was against the idea (though the grandparents on both sides were very pro the idea!). Thankfully ds has settled well but as 'busy woman' said I would have no hesitation pulling him out if he wasn't happy. I too believe that education takes place in the home first and foremost.


  5. My homeschooled kiddos are now 31 and 32. I felt that one on one schooling was far superior to one on fifteen to twenty five. I also knew that the kids would learn no matter what. Both are well educated and curious contining to learn everyday of their lives. I also didn't want to miss al those special days by having them gone for 8 or more hours a day. I wish I'd homeschooled the first 4 but it wasn't really possible back then. As it was I fought the school system to do it.

  6. As busy woman said "education takes place in the home first and foremost". Whether your children attend public school, private school, or are home schooled, it is the parents responsibility for the the education of their children. My youngest son was diagnosed with adhd and oppositional/defiant disorder (whatever that is) and has a difficult time in organized classroom settings. By the time he was in 8th grade, I removed him from public school and began to home school him. Even with that we were unable to do traditional learning. So I took every opportunity to sneak in math and history and english, whether it was cooking, building, planting... He eventually passed his GED at age 19. It was worth all the tears and hair pulling to raise him. At age 20 now, I see glimpses of the good man he is growing into. His father passed away last year and he was a big support to me and his sister and brother during that time. I grow prouder each day of my Kyle. Homeschooling or the attempt at was the best thing for him. Even though his siblings were not home schooled, they were still taught at home. I am proud of all my children and their accomplishments. I wish I knew then what I knew now.... I am a better person for having 3 wonderful children.
    PS Lacy... you are in my thoughts and prayers everyday!!! I know you and Josh will make fantastic parents...

  7. Hello Bel. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and simple wisdom. I have been touched by your posts and have enjoyed them very much. We'll talk some more in emails about more posts in the future and how that will fit in with your busy life.

    I'm working again today, and will reply to your email tomorrow. Take care love.

  8. Bel, thank you for another really interesting post. Hope to see you again soon :)

  9. Another great post Rhonda, thank you.

    I thought I would add a link to a small article I read today on keeping "chooks" (still love that word). I you all enjoy it.

    The Suburban Farmer: Raising Chickens 101

  10. Opps, I meant to type Rhonda And Belinda. Thank you both.

  11. Hi Bel,

    We home school here in the States. We do this for all of the reasons listed. Thank you for this encouraging post.

    Becky K.

  12. Thank you all for your comments! It really is a privilege to be able to homeschool. Many aspects of our lifestyle aren't exclusive to homeschooling families, but we do appreciate the time we have together most of all.

    I will probably come back and write more guest posts for Rhonda in the future. Meanwhile, thanks for having me and all the encouraging words shared.


  13. I am a homeschooling mum to two kids age 3 and 5. We are blessed to live in a part of the world where homeschooling is well-supported and there is a great community. I think homeschooling and simple living go hand in hand. I consider it a joy and a privelege to be with my children every day, watching them learn naturally and learning myself sometimes along with them. The time we have to be outdoors, explore nature, and live simply at home is so precious. Thanks for a great article!
    PS - i have a homeschooling blog for anyone interested in seeing what it looks like from day to day. it is at freelearners dot wordpress dot com

  14. I feel so inspired by your blog which I've only just come across linked from Rhonda Jean's blog (which I have also only just found!). I, too, homeschool 6 children (18 months up to 16 years). Unfortunately I find self-discipline difficult (don't know why yet) so am nowhere near as organised as I'd like to be but I'm making slow progress. The vege garden is improving all the time, now that we've built up our hard-packed clay soil. Sadly our chooks have suffered an untimely end at the paws of foxes/cats. I'm looking forward to building a stronger enclosure for them after Christmas.
    Keep up your good work. I'll be checking your posts often now for further inspiration.

  15. Thanks for the post on home schooling. We're currently at a Steiner School and have been for some years now, but if we weren't fortunate enough to have that, homeschooling would be our next option. I'm always interested in learning more about it...

    I also witnessed a friend of mine (who was juggling four children, two schools, extra curricular activities etc) experience a huge 'relief' when they decided to home school... no rushing for arbitrary start and finish times, less fuel, less time spent in the car etc you get the idea and they travel so much more than otherwise...

    so I am curious ;)

    Best of luck


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