A representative from New Zealand's education department expressed concern that our six-year old, Abraham, would be improperly socialized as a homeschooler. Averil's response was great:
We definitely agree that social interaction with a range of people is important.
May I share with you what attracted me to homeschooling my own children the most? As a teacher abroad in Thailand, I had the privilege of meeting a number of homeschool families, who came to assist at the orphanage where I was teaching. I was so impressed with the maturity level of their teenagers and the friendly, respectful manner in which they addressed myself, older adults, people of a foreign culture and young children alike. When I lived in the USA for about 8 years, my experience of other homeschoolers I met was the same.
We believe that home education provides greater freedom to mix with a wide range of ages, and flexibility to gain valuable experiences in the community. The typical homogenous age grouping in classrooms at public school is necessary in such a setting, but does not reflect the wider variety of ages students encounter on leaving school to enter the work world.
Social settings that Abraham experiences already:
- Church, twice weekly
- Homeschool meetups on Friday afternoons
- Outdoor recreation/Field trips/Travel
- Trips to the store
- Trips to the doctor/dentist
- Playdates with friends
We often invite families over for dinner with our family. Our children learn how to prepare the
house for visitors, welcome them into our home, sit at the table with them over a meal, make
polite conversation with our guests and share their toys with other children.
My husband and I run youth camps twice a year, with our children accompanying us. Our two oldest children Sophia (10) and Noah (8) participate very well, relating well to other campers, and are already a great help to us. We expect that Abraham will develop his social skills in this context as well.
In addition to the above experiences, some more we anticipate in the future include:
- Youth Group on Friday nights
- Music lessons
- Swim lessons
- St Johns Cadets
- Work Experience
- Community service of various kinds
- Activities relating to interests/talents that we see developing in Abraham i.e. if science
- experiments, then science fairs, if arguing a point, then debate club In response to secondary school requirements.
I expect our homeschool education will surpass what I gained as a high school student. As a capable student with good grades (according to my high school qualification), I entered the tertiary world woefully inadequate. About half of my professional English class at Teachers’ College (including myself) was going to be failed for their poor grammatical construction. What a wake up! Grammar, as a subject, had been completely absent in my education from 1982-1995. This will not happen to my children if we have the opportunity to homeschool. We have an excellent English grammar programme, in which my 10 year old child is learning how to diagram sentences. Regretfully, this was never taught to me in school. I am enjoying learning along with her.
On graduating secondary school, I had no clue how to construct an essay with a well reasoned argument. The mechanics of good writing had never been taught in my high school English classes. I attempted to avoid any subject in University that might require an essay to be written. My older children are learning how to write reports well at age 8 and 10, and are likely to be confident essay writers by the time they are 14 using Institute of Excellence in Writing’s curriculum.
When I read books about the Classical Education Approach* I realised that this was the kind of education I wish I had received. I aim to give this gift to my children.
According to the Classical Model (Trivium), Abraham is currently at Grammar Stage. At around age 10, Abraham will enter the Dialectic Stage. At this age (10-14), children are able to think on a more abstract level and enjoy questioning things in the world around them. This will be encouraged in our family and we will dialogue much about ideas. This is the stage that the subject of logic, should be introduced. It would be an appropriate time to seek out debate club opportunities. In the later years of Secondary school it is time to ‘put it all together’. The student has already gained much knowledge and skill at the Grammar and Dialectic Stage. The ability to reason well has been gained in the Dialectic stage. With the Foundation of Grammar and Dialectic in place, the student enters the Rhetoric stage (15-18). At this stage of learning, the ability to present thoughts/knowledge beautifully and persuasively is practiced and refined. This approach works in every possible subject area - English, History, Math, Science, Art, Technology, Music etc... It provides the tools of learning needed for success in any field Abraham might pursue.
Of course, any parent is very interested in the question, how do children who are classically homeschooled turn out? We ourselves observed families in the USA that used this approach and had High school graduates, to see what the outcome might be for our own children. In my opinion their graduates were poised, articulate, well-informed and very employable young adults. This impression is supported the rapid growth of families pursuing a classical education for their children in the US and testimonies on how eagerly sought out by Universities in general homeschoolers are.
In conclusion, we are very eager to complete the entire home-school journey with Abraham.
As for transcript requirements for entry into tertiary institutions, we have attended a talk given by the representative from NCHENZ which provided some excellent information. We expect that we will continue to dialogue with that organisation as Abraham advances to Secondary Level. If there are any other suggestions you might give, they would be welcomed.
The Lost Tools of Learning, an essay by Dorothy Sayers
The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise-Bauer
The Core, Leigh Bortins
The Question, Leigh Bortins
The Conversation, Leigh Bortins