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In three short months Alfie starts home-schooling. In my head that statement reads slightly differently; it reads more along the lines of “holy shit we’re about to become responsible for the entire future well-being of our child!!”

You could say that is a point of stress for me.

Picking a Homeschool Approach

Keith is his usual nonchalant self: “we’ll un-school” he shrugs, “just take every day as it comes”.

To a highly organised person like me, that’s a shrug away from a nervous breakdown. 

I'm the sort of person who has lists, and maps and itineraries, preferably colour coded and available in the cloud in case I need them when I'm half way round the world.

I need plans people, PLANS. I need to be able to measure and record and tick shit off.

We all play to our strengths I suppose, and it’s not that I hate the meandering organic approach to life; it’s more that I also love being organised. 

Being organised frees my mind to allow me to enjoy the meandering you could say.

A lifetime ago, Keith and I went on a ten day tour of Ireland on our bikes and after we had come up with the general idea, I told Keith to “leave it with me”.

A week later I presented him with a map showing our route, rooms booked at suitable intervals at local pubs, and “must-see” attractions marked along the way. It was a masterpiece of organisation. 

My cosmic punishment? 

Keith’s bike broke down before we had even left, one of the places I had booked was in a village so small they had forgotten to signpost it, the EU funding had run out for road building so half the ride was on dirt tracks, one of our Guinness posters came flying out of our luggage on a stretch of motorway and we nearly crashed going to see a local celebrity dolphin. 

All in all, it was the best holiday of my life.

None of this has any bearing on home-schooling of course, but it should go some way to explaining how I roll and why, at the moment, my brain is consumed with home-schooling nightmares.

I might not be worried, were it not for the fact that someone in the family (i.e. me) has to fill in some very official forms that need to convince the government we have some small idea of what we are doing.

And I don’t think they go bundles on “take every day as it comes” as an answer.

So I went on-line and searched for “Home-school Curriculum” which led to the internet delivering me 1,430,000 head fucks in 0.29 seconds.

According to the internet, approaches to educating your child, include (but are not limited to) Traditional, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Lap booking, Note booking, Unit Learning, Un-schooling and for the indecisive amongst us, Eclectic.

How do you choose? 

Well you pick a style that suits both you as a teacher and your child as a learner. 


Or if you are me you spend days looking for sites that offer free resources, read them until you never want to see another piece of free clip art and then try and work out which ones you will be able to convince your family to use while also being able to convince the government you aren't making it up as you go along.

Dear future well adjusted children, I hope it now becomes clear why your father was the one who stayed at home with you. 

Also why we never had any money for holidays; we spent it all on laminators and field trips, that shit doesn't come cheap.


  1. Blogger really needs a 'like' button. :)

    1. Thank you.

      You know you're in trouble when you start double tapping the screen and wondering why a big heart doesn't appear (just a little Instagram reference for you there). I may or may not have been guilty of doing that at times.

  2. I homeschool, and i started out with lesson plans and laminated everything and you know what? It didnt work (for us), it was boring and stressful (i should mention i also have 3 other small children) and as time went we just became more and more relaxed. We are now firmly in the interest led camp and advice to you would be to just relax, relish it, read lots, draw lots and it will happen organically whether that be a curriculum that you fall love with or otherwise. Its a beautiful journey and im loving it, its one of the best decisions you'll ever make for your child xx

    1. Hi Terri, that's actually a really good point, I suppose if formality and structure were the key, we might as well send the children to a school, eh?

      How did you find filling in your exemption paperwork? I think that is actually what is stressing me out more than the homeschooling because the feedback I have heard from other local mums is that the MoE has some trouble understanding unschooling as an approach because of the lack of "evidence".

    2. Daunting :) I started by just brainstorming and writing down the odd paragraph or sentence when it came to me, it meant that when i was mentally ready to sit down and start it, i had bits to get me going and it didnt seem such a big task. My advice would be to be really thorough. For example when they talk about what resources you will use i had a whole page including things like magazine subscriptions, math counters, scales... you name it. Mine was approved in 4 days, no questions asked :) I would reach out and seek unschooling families to help you, I'll be honest i just told them what they wanted to hear as i really didnt want it to be declined lol

    3. Terri, I love your approach, it makes the whole thing seem SO much easier to achieve!

      I am very much one for sharing ALL the information (you could never tell from the blog, eh?) so I will be taking your lead on that front.

      I have started putting ideas down and so far I am up to 8 pages so at least they won't be able to accuse me of not wanting to offer information ;)

  3. Hi from a first time visitor, I saw your weblog recommended elsewhere. :-)

    You can make a like button quite easily if you have an ordinary blogger template. Just go to your layout page, and in the post box choose the "reactions" option. Make your reader's possible reaction "like" and there you have your button :-)

    After many years of homeschooling my advice to you would be to find what works best for you, and fit it around how your child learns. If you love formality and structure, there's really nothing wrong with that. As for unschooling - there are many ways you can write your paperwork to express in clear eduspeak the intentions you have to educate your children well and consistently via unschooling. You can also accumulate a great deal of evidence on that education simply by keeping a daily list of what your child does, and using it for ongoing evaluation.

    Good luck to you - I've met very few people who have regretted their choice to homeschool. :-)

    1. Hi Sarah! I'm so glad you have found the blog, I hope you stick around :)

      That's a great idea about the "like" button, I clearly need to spend more time investigating the features of this wonderful blogging platform because that had completely passed me by!

      Those are awesome suggestions regarding paperwork, all very sensible and (to my mind) within the spirit and letter of the requirement to keep records. I would love to hear any first hand experience of what sorts of records get the best response :)

    2. You can view some successful examples if you contact Home Education Foundation or other national homeschooling organisations. I know someone who wrote her application very slap-dashedly the night before and was accepted; I hope this kind of thing doesn't pass any more! I also know radical unschoolers whose applications were approved because they were able to express in educational language (eg goals, measurements, learning outcomes) their intentions. If the form is still the same as it was 15 years ago, there is a part where you have to describe how you would teach a subject. This is a wonderful space to share your enthusiasm about child-led learning, and to reassure them that you will genuinely guide your student through mindful strewing of resources, measuring their learning and progress by witnessing it on a daily basis, etc. Most unschooling parents want to see real learning outcomes for their children, even if they are reached through unorthodox means.

    3. I have actually spent a very reassuring afternoon looking at examples and it is wonderful to see the range of different approaches that have been taken.

      It might sound odd for someone who writes as much as I do, but when I approach something like this I tend to be very tabular, I think to reassure myself that I am covering everything I need to address.

      I have actually started to draw up a document with all the information I need to provide and dropping in bullet points as they come to my head. I think I will carry on adding information and filling it in until it feels right and then I'll ask someone with experience to cast an eye over it.

      Incidentally, yes the form does still ask you to describe how you would teach a topic of your choice, which is going to end up being something of an essay. The document is already 12 pages long so I hope they like reading!!

  4. Hehe, you're nuts! I'm looking forward to seeing what you pick. There are too many choices, and it's hard to narrow it down. BTW, we are in Perth as a field trip ;)

    1. I do sometimes wonder, I must be honest.

      What approach do you associate yourselves with most closely? I take it you don't have the same lovely paperwork to complete over there?

      Awesome field trip it is too ;)

    2. Maybe classical? I really couldn't label us. We do a little like this, and a little like that! Have you read my interview on The Pioneer Woman, I talk about our style a little there.

      We have no paperwork in Victoria, but other states have a heap of hoops to jump through.

    3. That interview was how I found your blog in the first place! :D

      I think that sort of approach is normally labelled eclectic round here. I think that's probably one of the big benefits of home educating though isn't it? Even down to using different styles for each child and subject if needs be.

      Lucky you!

    4. Is it? Haha! I'm glad we found each other! Yes, that is a HUGE benefit to homeschooling, though I think you might have to pick what works for Keith rather than yourself. I would imagine it would be next to impossible for him to be the 'teacher' you would be, but he will be amazing as the 'teacher' he was born to be... with a little nudging in the right direction ;)

    5. N'aww that made me get all choked up! I think the approach I'm trying to write up is very much driven by the approach Keith wanted to take. He was talking about Alfie having a diary that he wrote in and stuck things in (Notebooking!) and we are both on board with using Unit Studies as well as a way of introducing his less favoured subjects. I think the two of them are going to be amazing together, I can't wait for them to start their journey (and yes, I am also a little bit jealous!)

  5. I just saw your blog today via Freerangekids and it's so awesome! Although I lived in NZ for awhile when I was little, I'm from the US so I'm not sure how it works there, but here we have to provide "proof" of homeschooling curriculum to the school board. However, we're unschoolers because our kids hated the sit down and do paperwork homeschool. So I simply take the curriculum as a "suggestion" and bring things up during the day. For instance, if the curriculum says to read such and such poem and write down three themes you find, I'll just read them the poem at bedtime and we'll talk about how beautiful it is, what it's about...or learning about fractions while doing Christmas baking. They end up doing most of their "schoolwork" but it is disguised as conversations or crafts. The only onerous is on me to read up on the curric to know what to specifically point out to them or talk about. I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for you...everyone does! Best of luck!

    1. Thank you, that's so kind of you.

      I have added your beautiful blog to my Feedly (congrats on the pregnancy BTW) because it sounds as if you are taking a very similar approach to the one we will end up using; lots of very informal learning written up in a structured way that the relevant rubber stamper can understand ;)

      Do you have any requirements to be audited where you are?

    2. Aw thanks a bunch!
      We don't really have any "Requirements" per say, they just want me to be able to provide evidence of adequate homeschooling. We do have to take tests every other year but it's very easy to pass them (if you know anything about the US school system you'll know we have very low standards lol). It's actually a little frustrating because they don't have any set rules about how much I need to provide, it's really up to the school board. So I just have a curriculum with a lesson plan that I periodically make comments in, saying what kind of craft or experiments we did, and I save a lot of their pictures they draw or things they make. So far it's been enough.
      Do you have to provide anything when you homeschool or are they pretty lenient?

    3. As far as I'm aware once we have the exemption we are left to our own devices ... unless they decide to check up on you in which case there seems to be a lot of flustered feathers about what it takes to satisfy them. In some ways I think that is why I am flustered myself, if I had a set of criteria to follow I would be happy, but it's the total lack of structure and the arbitrary nature of the assessment that bothers me.


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