“In the land of human beings , beware those who shame you for your failings , who urge greater fidelity to a system what ails you rather than greater trust in yourself. Beware those who put institutions ahead of persons , and whose idealism tempts you to pretend away your problems and distresses in favour of a sparking seductive image . There is no inoculation against life . Be as genuine as as you can , try write the resources you have , open your mind to new solutions , and trust that you know what’s best for you and your family more than anyone else does. Take your time , be wary of unsolicited advice, and hold fast to your commitment to peace and well being over ideology” Julie Bogart
Today’s homeschool chat is with Laura, a homeschooling mother of three children (Joshua 8, Holly 6 and Natalie 3) , married to her musician husband Tabes. They decided to bring their homeschooling to a new level and have sold everything material they own to dive into a WorldSchooling adventure. To find out more about their adventures and homeschooling updates , head over to their Instagram page @ourworldschoolingfamily or visit their website http://www.ourworldschoolingfamily.com
1) Tell us a bit about your family and your child/children.
Calling the U.K. our home for our entire lives, I trained as a primary school teacher with a special needs background. Tabes is a musician, he has run recording studios and taught at colleges, but now his focus on performances. His own music is a wonderful mixture of Indie-Pop but he loves singing covers from all eras. Joshua is 8, he is a huge foodie. He will ask anyone he meets what their top ten vegetables are or a similar food-related question. Josh is a bookworm, his all-time favourite reads include Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and The Railway Children. Holly aged 6 loves ice skating. Back home, she and Joshua we’re part of the junior figure skating academy. She is very keen to keep finding new ice rinks on our journey. Holly loves art and any form of gymnastics or dance. Our 3-year-old, Natalie, can eat any adult under the table! She loves family games, riding her bike and reading together. We are a plant-based family, always striving to eat and move in a way that makes our bodies feel good.
2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
Home education discussions began when I was pregnant with our oldest child. I was teaching at the time in a mainstream primary school with a wonderful centre for children with Autism attached. I was given the freedom and flexibility to design a curriculum purely based on what the children most needed and deserved. Thanks to this, I was afforded opportunities to visit unique and alternative education forms which began opening my mind to a new way of learning. When Joshua was born we had looked into every education style and settled upon a delightful Waldorf Steiner school set in picturesque grounds and taught by wonderful caring teachers. He attended the kindergarten for a few months before we decided it was too far so from our home. This is when the homeschooling journey began. As soon as we started I completely fell in love with it, and it seemed crazy to me to send my kids off to a school to be taught in mass conditions by a stranger when I could easily do it myself. It was also influenced by seeing behind-the-scenes of how business-like schools have been forced to become in the U.K., and in our area, how under-resourced and over-subscribed they all were.
3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
In October 2019, we made the life-changing decision to sell 95% of the things we owned including the house, car, furniture, piano, most of the toys, our beloved book collection…to travel the world and take homeschooling onto the road. We thought we’d be responsible and give ourselves a year to sell everything and get what we needed to in order. That was until I read about The World School. This brand new school is a democratic, interest-lead, forest school that travels the world. What a dream! Where do I sign up? Right now we are located in the Dominican Republic, so a typical day is very different to how home school looked for us in the U.K. After breakfast, over which we usually chat about the day and read, we walk to the bus stop. Here the older two kids board the bus to their forest school. Currently, this is a tropical coconut-palm lined beach in the Caribbean. We loved forest schools back home and the accompanying muddy boots, this forest school is extremely different and we are all learning so much from it. During the first school mornings, the teaching staff will often read, provide activity suggestions, or have a specific focus, however, it is entirely interest lead. So the children choose what and how they want to learn based on their interests. They then hop back on the bus which brings them to a school building where they have lunch with their friends. The afternoon session revolves around clubs, forums and activities. This includes drama, Spanish, cooking, art, maths games, sport and more. Natalie and I then pick the, up and we wander home. While debriefing the day we have snacks and drinks. During this time we carry in with our project time in which each child has created their own project. We have a lovely extended playtime in which they will often play with friends, or we’ll play a game together, do some art or baking. Dinner time is followed by reading and 1:1 time before bed.
4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
We have explored and loved many different homeschooling styles. We began with Steiner and Charlotte Mason and then settled on project-based learning. Our children learn in an interest lead style, carried out through projects of their choosing. Based on the Reggio Emilia education style and popularised by the author of one of my favourite parenting books; Lori Pickert, it is an approach to learning. With no planned out curriculum or academic targets, it is entirely lead and resourced by the child. With just support and mentoring from me as the parent, my kids take the reins. And this is with everything – the project subject matter, the manner in which it is approached, the resources they will use, and even the duration of the project. As a trained primary school teacher, this took some training for my mind to adjust to this radically different education style. I had to deschool myself! The approach is fairly similar to unit studies within the school curriculum, in that all academic subjects and areas become encompassed within the project. Each of my kids has an individual project on the go and then will regularly collaborate with each other or with friends on other projects. We’ve found it the most effective for learning, and definitely the most time-efficient and calmest for me as a mama. I’ve found because it’s self-lead the kids want and choose to carry out project time. And I’ve loved watching the skills evolve.
5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?
What do I love most about homeschooling? Wow, so many things! I guess top on my list is the freedom…the freedom to learn in the manner most suited to us all, the freedom to set our own life path and veer off the box we sat in. For us, right now we have taken our homeschooling global so the freedom to learn wherever in the world is incredible. We love homeschooling around the world as it brings in aspects we were talking about before but now can see them in reality. We can allow these memories to ignite further sparks of interest. Homeschooling allows us to set what we believe are the most vital elements of life learning rather than following a prescribed, generic format that might not fit each individual. It allows us to have super quality, unhurried time together as a family unit. It gives our children the chance to develop their relationships as siblings and friends. It provides so much social time with genuine friends – old and new, spanning all ages and cultures – that it makes me laugh when people question how as homeschoolers we socialise our kids!
6) Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?
We have swayed in and out of routines over the years but our most popular is morning time. We love having a basket of books, card games and art suggestions to do during breakfast.
7) What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I love art in all its forms, I think it’s calming for us all and teaches us so many skills beyond creativity. I love how it demands patience and perseverance, how it can be taken anyway and can capture a moment so beautifully. I love watching minds open as new materials and techniques are begun and mastered. For us, project-based learning allows all subjects to be organically included so there’s not one, in particular, I don’t enjoy teaching or aiding with. As a primary school teacher before having kids, my least favourite to teach was music because I felt my skills were so lacking. Maybe this is why I married a musician!!
8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
Challenges when homeschooling should not be pushed aside. I think it’s so important we have a tribe of people to share these with and often friends will work together to help each other out and share good advice and tips. Some days can seem tiring – most days are lovely but then there’s that day when you are tired, or poorly, or lazy 😬! I feel these are the day’s which I’m trying to spot so I can straight away shake the day upside down and do something unplanned or spontaneous to ensure we don’t get on each other’s nerves. I’ve moved beyond the point of worrying about whether my kids are learning the “right” things because my mantra is; what’s the worst that can happen? Say they reach 16 and haven’t learned enough academics…then what? They’ll decide what path their life will take and move their academic learning accordingly. As long as my focus remains on raising kind, compassionate, respectful, caring, self-learners I’ll feel proud.
9) How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
I love waking up before the kids. Hang on, most days I love it, some days I hate it for the first 45 seconds! I use this time to exercise or do some yoga, plan my day and prep for the morning. I also actively sit and read in front of the children to demonstrate down-time. Socialising with friends and dates with my hubby has always been a priority and something that we always strive to do more of.
10 What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
Favourite books…Project-based Learning by Lori Pickert, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart, Free-range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, Calm Parents Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham
11) How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
We are super fortunate that most of our family are incredibly supportive. I remember feeling so nervous about telling everyone. But in reality, most of them were on board and wanted to help us. A few family members still ask when they’re starting school or if we’ll homeschool all three of them. I guess we’ve reached a point of knowing our decision to be right for us and so feeling confident when we talk about our reasons and decisions. We surround ourselves by friends who completely support us and are very like-minded. Life can be greatly affected and shaped by the people you choose to associate with, so this is strong in our minds when we choose who to spend quality time with.
12) Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
In 5 years , I see us having had a wonderful time adventuring around the world, exploring alternative school systems and meeting wonderful people who will help shape our futures. I see us settling down somewhere for teenage years and aiding our children to become strong, independent self-learners. Learners who in this fast-changing world are keen to adapt and shape their future.
13) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
The advice I would give would be follow your heart. There are so many styles of home educating, don’t feel hemmed into one. Try them all until one sings to your heart. Don’t be afraid of judgement, it’s fleeting and insignificant to your life. Don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped. Don’t worry about if your kids are learning enough – as long as you are shaping beautiful personalities the learning will come. Make friends – in person and online. These people will be your support network, your sounding board, your inspiration and your friends.
14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?
We had a loving, fun family filled with incredible memories.