Experience of shifting from a traditional school to a home school.
By Karina Bright www.karinabright.com
In 2022 our family decided to try home-schooling for our 9 year old daughter who has spent her first 4 years in the old school established in 1905 and was a Prep to Year 12 co-education Christian School located in the leafy green suburb of Wahroonga.
In this article, I’ll share our educational journey and experience.
Our daughter is a healthy, curious and smart kid with no academic, developmental or physical challenges. Her results were good and in 2020 she received an award for academic excellence. She had a few close friends and was enjoying the social aspect of her school life.
This girl’s name is Liza, and she is a daughter of a professional educator, who was teaching teachers at TAFE (mum) and a senior software engineer (dad). The reason I’m sharing this information is that we assumed that will be able to help our daughter with any school subject as our “parents’ team” combined had a lot of different qualifications, including master’s degrees in clinical psychology, electro engineering and programming, and other qualifications in training and assessment, telecommunication, leadership and management, project management, coaching etc.
When we joined the home-schooling community, my observations were quite surprising. The home-schooled children who have never been to school were more confident in approaching different gender and different ages people around, while our child started looking for a girl her age to form friendships with. I think that was a framed behaviour inherited from the school. As in schools, adults are a different category of people, whom you can only address formally as a “Mr” or “Mrs”, who usually don’t play with you and set the rules. You must follow your teacher’s instructions or be punished and, literally, look up all the time as teachers don’t come to the child’s level for communication, as teachers usually don’t sit together with the kids on the floor or at the table. In schools, children are also communicating more often with peers same age, which explains why school children can relate to their peers much quicker than younger or older people. That was not the case with the home-schooling kids. In general, home-schooling kids looked more relaxed, approachable, and curious.
During the first half of the year, we have tried different online platforms, apps, TV programs, printed learning materials, library books and physical sports activities as well as face-to-face art, craft, language and music lessons.
We have tried: Euka.com, Mathletics, Literacy planet, Typing.com, Minecraft Educational, DIY.org, Music Ecademy, Smile and Learn, Khan Academy, Epic, Lingua, ABC math seeds, ABC reading eggs, and ABC ME educational TV.
Figure skating, tennis and swimming lessons contributed to Liza's sports activities. And other face-to-face activities included craft afternoon sessions with her friends from the home-schooling group, vocal/music lessons and language school, where she was learning a second language. Our child was spending about 1 hr for English and Maths and 30-40 mins for science, history, typing and geography.
Let me share what worked well for our child and what didn’t.
1. All indoor sports activities worked well with unpredictable weather. And we moved to the private outdoor tennis lessons to be flexible with cancellation if needed.
2. Typing 5 mins a day in the morning was switching Liza’s brain on and helped her to complete the advanced level of touch typing at the end of Term 2.
3. Euka.com has provided us with great English lessons, but our child found the Maths not challenging enough even at a higher level than her grade.
4. Mathletics was helpful, however, if you accidentally hit the wrong button, you had to redo the whole unit which was taking extra time.
5. Khan Academy was free and great.
6. Minecraft Educational was more “Minecraft” and less “educational”, with about 20% of educational content and 80% of gaming.
7. Lingua.com was a great app for learning another language, but we just didn’t find enough time to keep up with a third language.
8. We’re still exploring the Music Ecademy and found the music theory lessons presented there helpful.
9. “ABC reading eggs and math seeds” and “Smile and Learn” are good apps for younger kids.
10. Epic was great for reading books online and being rewarded with special badges. However, we preferred visiting a local library and taking the books. We also decided to continue participation in the Premier Reading Challenge that Liza started in Kindy.
11. We found that ABC ME educational morning TV series covers many science, history and geography topics. And we are going to keep it in our schedule.
12. DIY.org is a great platform for kids that combines social media, education/learning new practical skills, competitions and challenges. There are also real tutors available for the workshops and challenges, and you pay an annual fee that covers up to 4 kids. Liza liked the platform, however, she had not enough time to keep up with all the social media interactions, and we decided to try it again later.
13. We also found the Excel book series practical and planning to keep them for Term 3.
For next term, my focus is to challenge Liza a bit more academically as she finds it too easy to home-school, plus increase the time with printed materials instead of screen activities. I’m going to increase the everyday activity list with Excel books, involve her in a few different creative projects/competitions and enrol for international academic tests to see her level of knowledge. My other focus is to continue her sports and other group activities to keep her physically active and create an environment for social interactions.
In Term 2, I could also organise a few new programs for homeschoolers with Bricks4Kidz and Macquarie Ice Rink. Those programs are new to the home-schooling community and to the businesses.
And this is another story I’ll happily share in my next article.
Karina Bright is a former trainer and assessor at TAFE NSW, who stopped training the trainers and managers in 2022 and started homeschooling her 9 years old daughter. She helped her child to transition from private school to home school and became an active member of the North Shore Homeschooling Group in Sydney. Karina has over 20 years of international experience working as a leading Training Consultant, Coach and Facilitator specialising in Training and Assessment, Leadership, Management, People and Business. She is interested in finding innovative solutions to existing educational, socioeconomic, natural resources and community challenges.