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Eventual Recognition Home Education is a Viable Choice for Our Family

by Sarah T

So many times, home educators get strange looks or comments about our choice to step outside the norm and educate our own children, but I want to share with you two experiences we had yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours was killed in a car accident. He was also a client of our accounting firm and I had worked with him on building jobs in my capacity as a draughtsperson. His funeral was held on Thursday, which my husband and I attended. His former partner was talking to my husband yesterday about accounting and financial matters relating to the estate and, out of the blue, she asked my husband to please tell me how wonderful our children are - nicest kids in the town and so intelligent and considerate and caring - and that she believes it is all down to our decision to home educate them. She and I have never, ever discussed home education, so it was quite a surprise to hear that she sees it has had such a positive effect on our family.

My husband went on to tell me about another encounter he had yesterday. Another friend, who we have known for about 15 years, who is also a client, was in the office yesterday. After the official accounting work is done being discussed, they always sit a while and shoot the breeze. Our friend sent all 3 of his children to elite private boarding schools, the last one having completed her HSC last year. This is a guy who spent $900,000 on his children's' education so that he could be sure he never had to say that he made a mistake and somehow stuffed up their academic lives. He said to my husband that he had wanted to do what we did - to keep his kids home and to educate them and see them grow up, but he hadn't been brave enough to take that step - to go against the grain and take the risk - and he regrets it. He said that he supported our choice, that he thinks we're brave and that we're doing a great job.

It has not happened quickly for people to see that home education is a viable choice for us - we have been home educating for 5 years. Our family were huge opponents of home education and we have lived in a small town where the norm is to send your secondary-aged children to boarding school and where the Catholic school is the only way to educate your primary-aged children... no ifs, buts or maybes. Many people who made those choices were upset with our choice because they felt that we were somehow judging them and that our choice somehow reflected our opinion of them. But, slowly, people see that our children are really quite okay - we are not freaky hermits who hide from the world - and that our children are getting an education that is equipping them for life and the world. We are involved in community events that occur during the year and sporting teams, and our older kids have held down part-time jobs since they began high school, both paid and voluntary.

To everyone who is in the midst of having those around them question and judge their choices, please take heart! Remember that, slowly, things will change. One day, someone will say something to you that will validate and confirm that those around you see that your choices were, and are, exactly the right ones and all the questions and judgements of the past will melt away and seem like they don't matter anymore.

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

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