It was 2003 and we were organising our January 2004 wedding.
There were a handful of ‘life choices’ I made sure my husband-to-be was clear about.
IF we had children, there was NO way I was going to place my children into the school system. EVER, if it could be avoided.
I made sure my partner was clear and agreeable. He’s a qualified teacher and he was o.k. with this choice.
While I was not planning to have children, I needed to ensure we were ‘on the same page’.
We never spoke with our extended families about it until the first child was approaching school age. At this stage, we just made it clear that we had chosen to homeschool. One or two friends had questions but were supportive. Some family members were rude about it without saying anything specific – it was in their body language or how they spoke to our child or how they conveyed the information to others that were clearly disrespectful of our choice.
My reasons for this choice were both philosophical as well as medical. I am medically disabled and undertaking the ‘school run’ was not within my capacity. I also was concerned that my child may have inherited my medical issue. This was proven to be the case some years later when it became apparent that we needed to have our child tested. The philosophical reasons were around several issues – I had been bullied at school by both educators and children. I did not want my child to attend a government school but could not afford a private school. And I would never be able to afford private school fees.
We happily used the preschool system for a few hours each week when our child was old enough. Our local venue was play based so that suited us perfectly. As we were only using it a few hours a week, my husband was able to do most of the drop-offs and pick-ups. at that stage, the enrolment allowed for 3 half days. Sessions ran for 3-4 hours depending on the day. Our child was never there on time, so she often only got about 2.5 hours on two days a week as she did not attend one of the three days as we undertook a family activity that day. As the system was and is not ‘compulsory’, this was within our permitted choices.
About halfway through the year, it was at this point that it became apparent that my plans might need some ‘amending’. My child insisted she wanted to attend school with her friends at least part-time. we went to the two local primary schools to see what they were like and if they were open to partial enrolment. One school was a definite no which was fine by me as I did not like the Principal at all. the other school did not refuse the request but they were very strict about how we had to do it. I was not happy with it but my child dearly wished to give it a try.
She made several friends as well as cementing friendships with neighbours, twin girls. Four-year-old kindergarten can be lots of fun and our child enjoyed it immensely. We got to know a few of the local adults too. During term 4, kindergarten kids got to do a transition program with the nearby junior school. One session of the three each week was spent at the school rather than at kindy. We weren’t going to participate but our child really wanted to see what it was all about so she did some of the sessions.
Our daughter attended two part days a week or so was the plan. The Principal’s plan, not ours. Despite being told otherwise, he kept talking about it as a transition to school. We never had any intention for that t be the case. We told them we did not want assessments. The system was organised in a way that they had to issue a report. the system also did not actually accommodate for a partial enrolment on the reports even though the enrolment system did. this meant that our child was marked as absent on the days she was not enrolled to attend. I found this very annoying as it was factually incorrect. [Yeah, I nitpick about that sort of thing.] The school principal made a ridiculous comment that our child could not read.
Our child refused to read out loud for the teachers. She was mot ‘a performing monkey’. She had in fact, been reading since before attending school. By the time her report came out, she was not attending both of the days she was supposed to. She had lost her desire to go. I was lucky to get her there one day a week. I never forced her but I did remind her that it had been her choice and if we did not change her enrolment then she should try to go.
She loved art which thankfully was on one of the days she was supposed to be there. She seemed to like the teacher and her sessions in the art class. Unfortunately, the teacher became ill and had to be replaced. [Sadly, she passed away before the end of the year.] My child certainly did not like being told she had to change activities by her class teacher. The class teacher told us she was obstinate. She was not angry or negative about it, just matter-of-fact. We were aware that she could be like that but that she could also be very cooperative.
It was her year of Prep that really confirmed for me that we would have to get her tested for my medical issues in the not-too-distant future. We ended up doing that about 5 years later I think, once we had more evidence and were comfortable with the idea of her having blood tests.
We did in fact apply for grade one as a partial enrolment as our daughter said she would like to give it a go. I was a bit surprised but willing to do as she requested. However, the school ghosted us. Our application was ignored and so were my emails. I found it quite disturbing that a polite refusal was not issued. Truth be told, I was very happy to be embarking on full-time homeschooling. Our second child was getting to be a handful, a very different child from her older sister, so having them together was great. They got along really well. Our older child would read to her younger sister which enabled me to do some chores or food prep.
We kept chickens and they both loved spending time in the garden with them.
During that year of part-time school-homeschool, we also started to make some homeschool community connections. It was a wonderful stage of life for us and our kids.