Number 3 in our Meet the Homeschoolers series is Gina of Our Global Adventure. We know of each other through the travelling family and blogging community, but we’ve never met in real life. Like Tamara, Gina is an Australian ex-teacher turned parent educator. I loved reading her responses, they’re all so positive and full of joy, giving interesting insight into what actually goes on in schools. compared to learning at home. Over to Gina. Gina is an Australian unschooler who used to be a school teacher.
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Would you briefly introduce yourself, how long have you been homeschooling, how many children are you responsible for educating and how old are they?
We are Gina and Simon, and our children are Lucy (12) and Oscar (7). We have been homeschooling since January this year, so only 10 months, but already we know that we have made the right decision. The change that we have seen in our children has been so incredibly motivating that we can’t imagine sending them back to regular school unless they requested it. Both of them have gained confidence, are more inquisitive and are clearly enjoying their new educational freedom.
Why Homeschool or Unschool?
What are your reasons for Homeschooling? Did your children ever go to school?
Last year we decided to start selling off our possessions, business and home to travel with our children. The private school that the children went to in Adelaide required a terms notice to pull them out, and since our house may have sold at any time, we decided not to return them when school resumed in January. In the beginning it was a bit hard for them, all of their friends went back to school, but our house didn’t actually sell for 6 months. Homeschooling in our suburban home wasn’t really the deal that they signed up for, they thought we’d be traveling! Originally, when we decided to travel with the kids Homeschooling was the obvious choice. It didn’t seem fair to move them from school to school as we moved around the world settling only for a few months at a time.
Unschooler Teacher Educational Background
What is your educational and career background?
I am a primary school teacher and Simon has a trade background, but he had been working a desk job before we left Adelaide.
I’d already quit teaching 3 years before homeschooling my own children to start a business because I was not happy with the school system. It left me feeling incredibly guilty that the children still attended school even though I knew that I couldn’t continue teaching with the direction schools were taking.
Where did you get your education as a child?
I attended Catholic schools, the last 3 years in an all girls school, before going to the University of South Australia to become a teacher. Simon attended country public schools before starting his apprenticeship learning on the job and at TAFE.
What Does Unschooling Look Like?
Can you describe your style of homeschooling?
It’s a bit of a mixture, but mostly Unschooling. We didn’t start out that way, I used to have a stronger focus on Maths and Literacy, but slowly even those formal lessons became less and less frequent.
It was always our intention that they would become Natural Learners as a result of our travels and their own interests, so the past 3 months has really been about de-schooling and learning ‘on the fly’ as lessons present themselves to us.
Both the kids are great readers and enjoy visiting the Library, so that has probably been the only constant through the year.
Lets talk curriculum, anything you’d like to say on the subject?
As a teacher, when I started homeschooling, my first reaction was to download the Australian Curriculum and attempt to cover it over a year. Reading through it I knew how difficult it was going to be to try and keep the children following this linear and very prescribed style whilst we were traveling.
For example, what is the point of my daughter learning about the structure of government and voting in Australia if she is only 12 and we are about to head over to Ireland?
I knew topics like this would hold no interest for her and that without any relevance to her these would be lessons just for the sake of ticking off the curriculum.
Teachers will tell you how hard it is to fit everything on the curriculum into a year, but that’s because there are so many ‘time-filling’ topics that will probably be of little use to children when they finish school.
The reality is that it is human nature to learn what we need, when we need it. If the kids are interested in pursuing a career in Science then I’m sure that they will learn the periodic table one day. In the meantime what is the point of making them memorise the elements off by heart?
Structuring an Unschooling Day
What does your homeschool day look like? Do you have a schedule?
No not at all! They wake around 7, feed chooks, play games and craft. Lucy often reads, Oscar reads less frequently, but as he is very good. I don’t bug him about it. It’s best for him to read what and when it interests him.
There is usually an opportunity for some informal maths throughout the day, (we do torture them with times tables CD s in the car!) and they spend lots of time exploring outside.
We’ve learnt lots as a result of our travels, for example we recently visited some caves where they learnt a heap of geology. Often they surprise us weeks later with something that they have learnt and recalled.
Occasionally I can coerce the kids into doing a couple of pages of a Maths or Literacy homeschool workbook, but that doesn’t happen often these days!
Do you follow the school system of working weeks and terms?
No, that doesn’t really seem relevant to us now.
Favourite Unschooling Resources?
What is your one favourite homeschool resource?
In the beginning we used Study Ladder online, but where we are staying there is a bad internet connection so that became replaced by activity books from an educational bookshop.
These days it’s mostly books from the Library and Google, or the world around us and the experiences that we have traveling.
Three Best Things About Unschooling or Homeschooling
Can you tell us the three most positive things about homeschooling for your family?
- The time that we get the spend together
- The loss of classroom competitiveness and assessment
- Knowing that our kids are learning in a meaningful relevant way, not just for the sake of it.
What are the government or state homeschool regulations where you live?
We are from Adelaide, so the requirements there are to be registered with the Education Department and to submit plans and be visited by an assessor.
I was extremely disappointed to see how much jargon was used in the application form, it has been specifically designed to put people off.
We are currently in New South Wales, but I have not bothered registering since we are only here for 3 months before heading overseas.
Our next stop will be Ireland so I will need to look into the requirements when we get there.
As an Australian Unschooler and Teacher, What’s Your Message To The World?
What one thing would you like to tell the world, homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers, about education?
- That learning need not take place in a school or other institution.
- Education has been passed on to offspring for generations, thousands of years, since the birth of the human race.
- True education is not recalling facts from a curriculum or book, it is about learning whatever an individual, family or community deems necessary to live a happy life as a contributor.
- That education certainly doesn’t come neatly packaged in a linear pattern from A to B.
- Life is an education, and we never stop learning if we just open our minds to the lessons all around us.
Tell us about your blog Gina
We have two blogs, Our Global Adventure which documents our travels and Our Global Unschool Adventure which is updated less frequently, but documents our journey into Unschooling. We hope that by sharing our story we can inspire other families to live their dreams.
Common themes on our travel blog is that freedom can be found if you lose all the stuff that keeps you chained to your job, and that travel with kids is not only possible, it is amazing!
We are always looking for more families to take part in this series, if you’d like to contribute please visit our contact/work with us page.
Thanks for being here!