Meet the Raki Family from Queensland, Australia! Mom: Kirstee (31) Dad: Ash (31) and their son 7 year old Nikolai and 2 year old daughter Wynter-Rain.
How long have you been homeschooling for?
We’ve been homeschooling for almost 18 months now. Which is almost as long as my son was in public school! Sometimes I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. Other times I can hardly believe we ever had to do the school run.
What led you to the decision to homeschool?
When my son was little we explored all sorts of alternative schools but when the time came we realised even if we wanted to spend a small fortune on Montessori or Waldorf, they were all too far away anyway. So we enrolled Nikolai into our local public school. We had a few issues with separation anxiety that first year, but overall loved it. By the second year of school (our grade one. Kids start in Prep here) we were started to become concerned about Nikolai’s behaviour AFTER school. The stress of school and of having to spend all day sitting still was just too much for him. By the time he got home he couldn’t hold it together anymore and would just melt down. Our paediatrician says that is actually quite common. We had a few other reasons but that was our major one.
How did friends and family respond to your decision to homeschool?
Oh dear, haha. Well, from family I got the typical “Are you crazy?” and “What about socialisation” type questions. So I sat down with my mama and discussed the legal side of things in our state, told her about all of the homeschool activities and co-ops in our area and explained what our options for uni entry are if we homeschool right through. That put her at ease and she took it upon herself to educate everyone in the extended family which was lovely. Since then our family have all been incredibly supportive. As for my friends, they were just sad we wouldn’t be chatting at the school gate anymore haha. But I’m known as the crunchy mama of the group so no one was really surprised I chose something a little out of the ordinary. They’ve all made a big effort to maintain friendships between their kids and mine and we all look forward to school holiday catch ups.
What does a typical homeschool day or week look like for you?
Monday through Wednesday we are home. The kids get up, play or read and get themselves breakfast. Once we are all ready we get our morning chores out of the way and then run any errands we need to do. Then the kids have playtime before we start lessons at about 10. We start with a morning circle of songs, poems, memory work and maths facts practice then move on to copy work and our main lesson of the day. By 12 we are done and stop for lunch. Afternoons are for self-directed projects, art and handicrafts, baking, reading and playing. Thursdays we are up early to drive out to the farm for co-op. We have forest school mornings and group classes and activities after lunch. The highlight is swimming in the dam at lunchtime when the weather is warm enough. Friday is our enrichment day. We do a poetry picnic, artist and composer study, project work… We also do the groceries and our weekly trip to the library on Fridays. We drop everything for a good playdate though. Weekends are for family. The kids have A LOT of cousins to catch up with each week.
Wow! You do all that before 10?! Lol I feel like our days fly by and we get nothing done lol. What time do you get up to do all that before 10?
I’m curious about the homeschool rules and regulations and how they might differ from the US. Are there any requirements or reporting you are required to do to homeschool in your area of Australia? Does it vary from area to area like it does in the US?
In my state we are required to register children for homeschool once they are 6.5yrs They can’t be simultaneously enrolled in homeschool and public school so if you are pulling them out of school you need to cancel your enrollment the day you send in your application. Basically we provide a 12 month plan of what we plan to do, covering all key learning areas, as well as a stat dec and a copy of their birth certificate. From there, we are quite free to homeschool how we see fit so long as we can demonstrate progress in our yearly report. There is no requirement for hours or to stick to the state curriculum.
What has been your biggest struggle with homeschooling?
I think the biggest struggle has been second guessing myself. I’ve had to learn to just make a decision and go with it. Whether that’s curriculum choices, social activity choices, or just regular everyday parenting decisions.
How about the best thing about homeschooling?
Well my husband says not having to do the school run anymore haha. Nikolai loves all of the activities we do. Science classes, bushwalking club, co-op days on my friend’s farm, drama group…If Wynter could answer I think she would say getting to play with her big brother so much. I like the freedom we have as homeschoolers. We can learn what we want, when we want and in a way that works for us. I love the community we are a part of. I love that my kids get a ‘real’ childhood, where they spend their days outside getting grubby. I think everyone in our home is happier and more relaxed now.
What is something your family loves to do/learn that would not be possible in a traditional school setting?
We love bushwalking and nature study. Sure we used to do that on weekends and holidays, but it would never be a part of public schooling here. Now it’s a key part of our home curriculum. We started a homeschool bushwalking club which the kids love!
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
My son is like me and wants to be something different every week haha. He just started drama classes so at the moment he wants to be an actor. My favourite was when he wanted to own an ice cream shop. That one was VERY well planned out. My daughter is only 2 so too young for this game. But she is such a free spirit, I can’t imagine her choosing anything mundane.
If someone reading this were to visit your area, what are some things you would tell them they must see?
We live right between the sea and the mountains so I would point them in those two directions. We have fabulous bushwalking trails and waterfalls in the mountains here. It’s our whole family’s favourite place to go.
Anything else you’d like to add for someone considering or just beginning their homeschool journey?
Just go for it! This doesn’t have to be a forever choice so don’t stress over making the perfect decision and having to stick with it for 12 years. That’s so much pressure. You can homeschool for a season if that’s what fits your life right now. You can try it and decide it’s not for you and that’s ok. But you might try it and fall in love. The point is, you won’t know until you try and the worst that happens is you change your mind and re-enroll in public school. But if you are curious, just try!
If you want to learn more about this wonderful families Australian Homeschool Experience you can find their website here: This Whole Home