First post in a while and straight into the big news – we are homeschooling this year! Not officially, as in Australia you generally can’t register to be “official” homeschoolers until your child is 6 years old. But we did make the conscious choice not to enrol Mr 4 in a preschool/kindy program this year, despite pretty much every other family we know doing so.
This was not an easy decision!
Let me start off with this – there are many reasons why I love Montessori schools! I even wrote a post about all the wonderful benefits (read it here). My children have been involved with Montessori playgroups and preschools since my first-born was 12 months old. I think that Montessori schools are a fabulous option that many parents in Australia aren’t aware of.
I have seen this question asked in multiple parenting groups recently. All a variation around this question:
“My 5 year old seems to be really struggling lately. She is having massive meltdowns and tantrums every day after kindy and is so exhausted that we are unable to do anything fun on weekends!
Her teacher reports that she is doing great at school.
She is keeping up academically, has a great little group of friends and no obvious issues while there. But at home she is a nightmare!
Is this normal?”
I discovered the Montessori method when my first-born was just a baby. So far we have experienced two different 0-3yr old playgroups, and two different 3-6yr old preschools (often known in Australia as Children’s House). Plus we have toured multiple other Montessori schools! So while I am not a trained Montessori teacher, I feel I know a fair bit about the Montessori method and the benefits of this type of education.
My favourite aspects so far:
Parenting these days is full of choices, decisions and crossroads.
From the very second you announce you are pregnant the questions start – are you going to find out the sex? Where are you giving birth? What is your birth plan? Will you breastfeed? What furniture/pram/car seat are you buying? And so on.
Then the baby arrives. Now there are questions around feeding, sleep training, routines, where your baby should sleep, babywearing versus prams, should you do baby swimming lessons, should you join a mothers group, whose opinion should you trust on all the articles popping up on your facebook feed, do you want to go back to work, what care options should you then use for baby etc etc. It never stops! Many parents spend many hours discussing parenting styles, feeding choices, childcare choices etc at great length.
But how much thought is given to education?
Depending on what state you are in, from somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6, you send your little one off into school for a huge portion of their waking hours for the next 12-14 years!
For many people, the default option is their local government (“public”) school, especially if they are in an area with strict zoning laws. If they are lucky, they may live in an area where they have a choice between a few different public schools.
But how many families really choose their school? Does everyone know all of the alternatives available? There are more options out there than most people realise, though the information can be tricky to find. Or perhaps some options are automatically ruled out due to the stigma – it’s hard to be the first person in your family to choose a Steiner school, or to homeschool, or anything different to the same private school that all your cousins attend!
I did my entire schooling through public schools and thrived in that system. Yet as an adult I thought I should send my kids to a Catholic school (based on husband’s extended family) or a private school (based on my work colleague’s choices). It was only once we set out and really investigated things that we discovered that a Montessori school or homeschooling might actually be great options for us. Options that our friends didn’t even know existed.
My hope is that this blog will help to open your eyes to some of the options that exist that you may not have yet encountered or considered. Over the coming weeks and months I will be adding all the handy hints and tips I wish someone had given me when I first started researching schools!
In the meantime, I am curious to know – do you think that families you know have consciously chosen their school options? Or do your friends, family, neighbours etc all just stick with a standard choice (be that public, private, religious, etc)? Leave your comments below!
A mum of two trying to find her way through the Australian school system.