Wow! My first blog post! Ok well, a little more about us and what The Free Children is about… We are a homeschooling family of four living in Australia. Our children are very young (five and one) so I suppose official homeschooling is yet to begin but not a lot will change to how we do things (although the regulations in my state are currently changing which could affect us).
We decided we would homeschool our daughter when she was two years old. Before she was born I imagined I would return to work once my parental leave was up but when it came to it, I could not hand her over to the responsibility of someone else to ensure her wellbeing. I used some tools of attachment parenting – breastfeeding on demand, bed-sharing, babywearing, and compassionate responsiveness, and J was securely attached to me. It seemed completely illogical to suddenly change everything in her world and it would have broken my heart to be away from her so I decided to stay at home. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I was able to do that. So we just did our thing; I said no thank you to suggestions of routine, politely ignored people telling me about supposed bad habits I was creating by picking up my crying baby or sleeping in bed with her, and simply tried my best to love her. I took her out to explore the world, I read her many novels while she drifted off to sleep, I held her while she slept, I cried when she cried, and I marvelled at what an incredible thing it was to be a mother. I would look at her and be in disbelief that I had actually created her (well, with the help of my husband of course)!
I thought I was doing pretty well in the parenting thing and my baby was an easy baby – she slept well, fed well, and was never sick (T was not an easy baby). Then when J was 13 months old we moved (a reoccurring event due to my husband’s work) and after only a few months at our new location in which I knew no one, Martin was away for six months (overseas) and the parenting thing got a whole lot harder! J changed from a happy, content baby into an intense toddler and I was struggling big time. It took a little while but I made a mammoth effort (being a highly sensitive and anxious introvert) to get out and about as much as possible. By doing this I connected with like-minded parents through an attachment parenting Facebook group and J and I made awesome, real life friends. I started to learn more and more about respectful, gentle, natural parenting and it confirmed for me that I was on the right path in my parenting journey and also that I had much still to learn and understand, particularly about developmental appropriateness for given ages. It’s like a light going on in the dark when you have knowledge about your child’s mental and emotional development and what is actually quite normal behaviour!
As J grew and I watched her and thought more about the childhood I wanted for her, it became clear that homeschooling was for us. I noticed J was different to other children but I didn’t understand exactly how. She knew her own mind, was strong-willed, spirited, highly energetic, had an excellent memory, noticed the smallest details, argued constantly, had intense interests, and could occupy herself for ages lining things up, matching things, or creating intricate abstract art. I just could not see her being happy in a school classroom. And so our homeschooling adventure began….