While NSW students are currently on school holidays, have you ever wondered what homeschooled children are doing?
Talking to two mothers who are currently homeschooling their children, it seems there are no strict timelines of school terms and breaks.
Despite Wagga being home to more than 20 primary schools and eight secondary schools, ranging from independent, private and state, many parents are choosing to homeschool their children in a growing community.
For Laurelle Lewis, a mother of two young boys who are on the autism spectrum, homeschooling has become a “relief” as her boys struggled with traditional schooling.
“I found there wasn’t a lot of funding out there, even though I went to numerous doctors appointments to try and get the support,” Ms Lewis said.
While Ms Lewis admitted that the responsibility of homeschooling is “full on”, she said every child is different and unique.
“When you see your child is not happy and there’s another option that works for them, you think well I’m going to do it.”
Originally residing in Wagga and now living in Narrandera since this year, Ms Lewis said she noticed a difference in performance with her sons Chris, year seven, and Noah, year four being homeschooled.
Ms Lewis said the homeschooling worked for a while, and then she put her boys back at school and while her youngest, Noah wanted to stay at school, Chris didn’t like it and decided he wanted to go back to homeschooling.
Ms Lewis said rather than having set holidays, like school, there will be periods where her children won’t do any book or school work, but rather engaged in “hands-on” learning.
“I try to have fun and look at what activities I can line up in the curriculum,” she said.
“I try to incorporate experiences throughout the year, as it's more fun and creates a richer experience.
“Of course there can be more opportunity to do more hands on activities during the holidays, as there are often workshops or group activities being held.”
Some of these hands-on activities include free community workshops, going for walks and also meeting up with other homeschoolers.
“Last holiday’s we went over to the community op shop in Leeton and the boys made plant and rock based jar environments,” she said.
“Another thing we do is finding workshops and meeting up with other homeschoolers and this is where my boys can socialise and they can play games of soccer, and that’s P.E.”
Shell said she was unhappy with the education system and the way her eldest child was treating the family following her return from school each day.
“My eldest daughter went to school for two years and while her school experience at school was really positive, her home life wasn’t positive in terms of relationships with family members,” she said.
“When I met teenagers who were homeschooled, I really liked what I saw, compared to those who had a school-based education.
“They had a different perspective and had ideas on important topics like religion, politics and world views, and they really enjoyed the company of their family – I think that was the turning point for us.”
Shell teaches five weeks on and then one week off and tries to time this break with the last week of school holidays to catch up with friends.
“The kids are doing activities like ballet and we try and fit this on the down weeks,” she said.
“We also take advantage of the school holidays, this Friday we’re going ice-skating in Wodonga, we’ve also gone on nature walks to the Adelong Falls and also my children participating in youth programs.”
While not all will agree with how Ms Lewis and Shell choose to teach their children, both of these women argue they are doing what’s best for their families and children.
Shell is proud of her two eldest daughters who have gone through homeschooling.
“My 21-year-old daughter is currently travelling Europe with her best friends, and my 20-year-old daughter has just come back from volunteering in Asia.
“Both are competent, young adults who have a real heart for other people.
“Bringing children into this world is a much bigger responsibility than choosing their education,” she said.
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