Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New and unexpected directions

I have been hinting about things on the home front taking a new and unexpected direction and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this one. 

Our eldest daughter started Preschool this term for a couple of days a week and it was a struggle for all of us. She became anxious and sad. I could not help but feel that her spirit had somehow been broken. After about 4 or 5 weeks we decided that enough was enough and with-drew her from the system. This is an over-simplified version of events as there were many factors involved in our decision, but the end result is that it has taken some time, but we now have our happy little girl back.

I have spoken with lots of parents who have had similar experiences with those first few weeks and everyone assured me that we would ‘get over it,’ and it was ‘just something we all had to do.’ Some even told me how their kids were physically sick with anxiety about attending Preschool, or that they had cried for most of the first year, but that they eventually ‘got over it.’

Maybe that's true, but all I know is that this just didn't feel right for US. We could not continue down that path any longer.

So, where does that leave us? What next? What other choices do we have?

The interesting part about this experience is that it has made us take a long hard look at the type of education we want for our children. I feel that we did not REALLY think about this until we experienced those few weeks of Preschool. We just automatically enrolled our child in Preschool because that’s what you do when your child reaches that age. Preschool prepares your child for the full-time requirements of our school system.

But what is the alternative? Our research uncovered a ‘road less traveled’ if we had the courage to travel it.

I can’t believe I am saying this as I NEVER, EVER imagined this path for us, but we are seriously considering home schooling. Ok, I need to have the courage to say this:
We ARE going to home school our kids.

In some countries this may be no big deal, but this is quite unusual in Australia and I don’t know anyone else who has taken this path. But the more we look into it and the more we research, the more we realise that this is just what our family needs. Maybe not yours - but ours.

I could write a novel on the emotional roller coaster we have all been on for these last few weeks, and the hidden stereotypes and biases that we have uncovered along the way (including our own), but now that we have made the decision I am actually really excited.

It already feels life-changing and liberating! I look at everything in a new way now. We are still in research mode and have uncovered some wonderful resources, families and support groups in the area who are already on this journey. Did you know home schooling can be so much more than just ‘schooling at home'?! There are so many different approaches and philosophies on how to educate children and it’s opened our eyes to a whole new world. It feels so right for us that I can’t believe we did not consider this before.

It’s also changed my night time reading choices! There is so much to learn!!

Of course I still plan to continue my illustration and design work, so some things won’t change, but it’s going to be busy, busy, busy around here!! 


Shannon Meyerkort said...

Hi Danielle

I came across your blog via the stylefile, as I was investigating potential illustrators for my (hypothetical) book I am writing for a uni assignment. I saw your illustrations on the Ella Diaries and then came across your blog and this post.

You are a wonderful photographer and your girls are gorgeous. I can't offer any helpful advice regarding the home schooling, as two out of three of mine are currently (happily, I hope) in the mainstream system, with another starting Kindy next year (what we call pre-school in WA).

But I just wanted to write and wish you the best though, as I imagine it will be a difficult choice and you might come across challenges.

But looking at the beautiful photos of the land around your house, I can't help but think what a wonderful place your kids will be learning in.

I look forward to reading more about your journey.

best wishes,

Danielle McDonald said...

Wow. Thank you Shannon for taking the time to leave a comment. It's nice to know someone is out there reading! It gets a bit quiet around here! I am looking forward to sharing more about our homeschooling journey too. It's a whole new adventure that I did not know was on our horizon! So thanks again and I hope to see you back here one day!