Photo: Ashley Martsen
Margaux Khoury is an author and conscious entrepreneur from British Columbia, Canada. She and her husband Josh have three children, and are raising them in an unconventional way by society's standards. They live toxin and chemical free, and free school their kids while building an earthship home.
In July 2017, Margaux and I had an insightful chat about:
You can stream the interview via Soundcloud or the window below. If you like what you hear, get in touch or leave a comment below. We hope you enjoy! 🙂
If you'd like to reach out to Margaux or are interested in hearing more about anything she talked about, her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaux's book - The Ultimate Guide to Organic Groceries
John Holt 'Growing without Schooling'
The Alliance for Self-Directed Education - Peter Gray
Photo: Ashley Martsen
Pam Laricchia is a Canadian unschooling author, speaker and podcaster who explains why the unschooling principles are resonating with so many parents worldwide. Pam shares the heart of unschooling so beautifully, and it's surprisingly simple!
In February 2017, Pam and I had a wonderful, open chat about:
I was honoured to be recently interviewed by long-time unschooler and author Pam Laricchia on her Exploring Unschooling podcast.
Pam and I chat about how my family recently took the leap in renting out our house, selling (almost) everything we own and are preparing to take off on full-time slow travel around the world in 2017.
The discussion also covers topics like:
I hope you enjoy the podcast, and please let me know if any of the topics we discussed resonate with you. And the interview is also available as a transcript, if you prefer to read instead of listen.
We're hoping to chat to Pam later in the month, so keep an eye out for that interview, it will be gold. 🙂
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Grace is a wife, mum to 1-year-old Leo, and editor of Mulberry Magazine. She believes that home educating starts from 0 not 6 years, but is glad not to have to worry about registration... yet! You can find her sharing snippets of her love of real food, picture books and homeschool on Instagram at @littlesoulfires
We caught up with Kelly George, a homeschooling mother who is currently travelling around Australia with her husband and 5 kids in a tiny rainbow caravan.
Kelly and I dived deep on a few of the perceived 'big issues' in the public view of homeschooling, and had a really honest and open chat about:
You can stream the interview via Soundcloud or the window below, and we've linked to Kelly's blog and social pages in the blue box underneath. If you like what you hear, get in touch or leave a comment below. We hope you enjoy! 🙂
We're stoked to bring you our very first audio interview with Jess Pilton, a lovely homeschool mum from rural property near Perth, WA.
We chat to Jess about a whole range of things, and 'pick her brains' on everything homeschooling, including:
You can stream the interview via Soundcloud or the window below, and we've linked to Jess' blog and social pages in the blue box underneath. If you like what you hear, get in touch or leave a comment below. We hope you enjoy! 🙂
GRACE: Hey Jess, how are you doing?
JESS: I’m good thank you, how are you?
GRACE: I’m good. It’s so great to talk to you. You are our very first audio interview for Mulberry magazine. So, we’re five issues in now and we’ve decided to do this and we’re really excited to have you as our very first.
JESS: Aww I feel very honoured, thank you.
GRACE: So right now let’s just explain to everyone who’s listening. So we’re doing this on Skype. I’m in Sydney where it’s just after 9 o’clock, and you are in Perth where it’s 7 o’clock?
JESS: Yes, just gone 7
GRACE: yeah, so you’ve just had dinner, and are the kids in bed yet?
JESS: No, not yet. They’re currently watching a movie with my mum.
GRACE: Cool, so we’ll have a bit of a chance to chat then. So I guess a good place to start then Jess is just to tell me a little bit about your family.
JESS: Well, there are 5 in our family. It’s me and my husband and we have three children – Alannah is 5, Tiffany is 4, and Mason is 2. Mason and Alannah are both coming up to having birthdays soon, so Alannah will almost be 6.
GRACE: That’s awesome, so where do you live Jess?
JESS: We live on a property in Hern Hill, which is in the Swan Valley, about 30 minutes away, and we have no internet at all. We’re still getting electricity hooked up to our tiny house so we won’t be getting any internet for a while there. We live in a semi-rural area which is really lovely and it’s also one of Western Australia’s wine regions which is really nice! Haha Lots of cafes and restaurants around us. Yeah but it’s really beautiful, really scenic, and we’ve been out on the property for about 7 months now. My husband was raised on a farm, a deer farm actually and he’s always loved being out on land, but we did live in suburbia after we got married. When we had Alannah and Tiffany, then we decided we wanted a tree change and we bought a property. Yeah, so it’s been really exciting the past few months, and even a bit more different for us because we decided to do things a bit differently with the property that we bought. It was a… it was very run down and needed a lot of work and it had a 1930’s farm house on it which we planned to restore but we found out recently that it’s probably just not going to be worth it. So it’s interesting, but hey, you’ve got to roll with the punches!
But we are going to be moving into a tiny house for a couple of years which is really exciting so that’s going to be 40 square metres we’re going to be living in…
JESS: Yep, for a family of 5! And we’ve designed the tiny house ourselves and yeah, it’s really exciting. It’s only going to be about another 3 or 4 more weeks until we move in, so that’s going so yeah, I’m so excited for it. It’s been about 6 months of us living in a ‘shack’ as we like to call it.
GRACE: So will it be a downgrade, like in terms of size or an upgrade from your current place?
JESS: It will be a downgrade in regards to size but will be an upgrade in regards to the way our life will run. It will be much better. We’ll actually have some hot water. We don’t have any hot water in the shack right now. We’ve only got hot water outside, so yeah… it’ll be really good to get hot water!
GRACE: Yeah, so how does that work? I mean, having no hot water, are you having to boil water to bathe and stuff?
JESS: No, we have an outdoor bathroom which is actually amazing, the kids love it. They have a bath every night under the stars. They love it, it’s awesome! I love it too, it’s really great. So yeah, outdoor bathroom. Inside we have to do the hot water, and it’s just frustrating I guess, like having to do the dishes and no dishwasher, I have to do all the dishes by hand! But yeah, other than that it’s been fine. So we’ve had a washing machine, and it’s all set up properly, it’s just that it feels a bit like glamping indefinitely. And I am going to miss the fire place, we do have a nice fire place in the shack. But we’re hoping to, because we’re not going to restore the house any more, we actually would like to, it’s actually a timber frame house so everything is timber, but in the middle where the fire place is, that’s all brick and it’s a double fire place that kind of goes straight through so you can have two fireplaces from it. It’s a really old structure and it’s giant, like it’s huge. We’d like to actually keep that and build around that so that will be incorporated into the new house that we build
GRACE: Yeah, well it sounds like a feature you’d want to keep.
JESS: Yeah, definitely
GRACE: That sounds amazing, we’ll have to check in with you when you’re up and running with your tiny house.
JESS: Oh yes, yes.
GRACE: Once you’ve got it sorted, not the first week when it’s all chaos, but after that. That’d be good. Okay, so before we get into your current homeschooling journey and where you guys are at at the moment, let’s go back. I always like to go back first, because there’s so much about what makes us who we are that’s steeped in our history. So I guess, can you tell me a bit about where you grew up and about your parents and your family growing up?
JESS: Yeah, we’ve always lived in Perth and actually growing up my family were ‘very Australian’. And we didn’t really do much as kids either. I didn’t go on my first holiday until I was 17, and that was to the Gold Coast. Yeah, we just sort of lived quite a small life really. We went to school obviously; we weren’t homschooled. But a pretty ‘normal’ family. I have a little brother who’s 5 years younger than me and that’s all, and yeah, went to school and my parents worked and my nan looked after us a lot.
GRACE: What do your parents do for work?
JESS: My dad was a banker and then he had a career change and went into boiler making. And my mum has always worked at Target. She’s actually worked at Target for about 25-26 years now.
GRACE: Wow, she must be running it by now!
JESS: Yeah haha, well for her 25th they gave her a gold watch and $500 gift card or whatever so that pretty cool.
GRACE: They’re looking after her it sounds like.
JESS: Yes, yeah she loves it there.
GRACE: Yeah, that’s actually something that I wonder whether that will even be a thing in our generation where people have worked somewhere for 25 years. It’s sort of a dying breed.
JESS: Yeah definitely.
GRACE: So, you went to school. So tell me a bit about what school was like for you, I mean across the whole thing, maybe particularly in one area that stands out to you. What was your experience like at school?
JESS: Yep, well primary school was, you know, that was fun. I didn’t excel, I wasn’t failing. I was just, you know I coasted along in primary school. And then when I got into year 8, in high school over here in WA, things started really going downhill for me. I was in the wrong crowd; I did not care about learning or education at all. I went to school to cause trouble, so haha…
GRACE: Oh wow, I can’t see that!
JESS: No! Not now haha! But yeah, I was a big trouble maker in high school. I used to wag all the time and I just really did not care, really when it came down to it. I did not care. I just cared about what my friends thought, and that was about it really.
GRACE: So, did your parents ever know that side of you?
JESS: Oh yes, they did! They had big issues with me. But you know what, throughout all of that, they still loved me. There wasn’t any real… I was never grounded or anything like that even when I did the wrong thing. I sometimes look back and think ‘maybe they should have’ but you know, I probably would have rebelled even harder. They gave me a lot of freedom, and eventually I did come around you know… to the light haha, and saw the error of my ways and I actually chose to leave school when I was in the middle of year 9 and I went and got a full time job because, well, I just wasn’t academic and there was no support – I guess because I was such a troubled kid, there was no support from the teachers and I didn’t really want to try another school or anything like that. But I wanted to become a beauty therapist, so I worked for a year and saved up enough money to go to beauty college full time.
GRACE: So you really hit the working life early then?
JESS: Yes, I was working full time in the city when I was 15.
GRACE: Wow, and commuting in and sitting on the train with everyone there. That would have been a quick way to grow up.
JESS: Yes! It was a very quick way to grow up. And it was probably about 45 minutes’ travel there and back to the city every day, and there were no handouts from my parents, which I am actually very thankful for now, because I learned how to manage myself and manage my money and it’s really good. And then I went to beauty college in the city after a year of saving up. I enrolled and I was a beauty therapist for a while.
GRACE: So, was that what you did until you had kids?
JESS: I did beauty therapy for a while and then I actually had a career change too and I went in to banking.
GRACE: Oh wow, like your dad.
JESS: Yeah. And then we had children about a couple of years after I did banking. And then yeah, that’s when life really began I guess! I cannot remember my life before children.
GRACE: Mmm seems like a distant memory doesn’t it?
JESS: It does, it really does.
GRACE: For me less so, but yeah I can imagine after a few kids it starts to get that way.
GRACE: And so, are you a full-time stay at home mum now?
JESS: Yep, full time stay at home mum. Yeah, because we are on the property now, so much work is going into maintaining that. Like we really want to be self-sustainable. Not to the point where we’re butchering our own meat and stuff like that. But to the point where we’re growing pretty much all of our own fruit and vegetables. Just getting to the point where we’re working for ourselves, not for someone else. That would be ideal.
GRACE: So your husband’s working full-time. What does he do?
JESS: My husband’s a boiler maker. Yeah, he’s a tradie. He’s always been a tradie. He actually went to a private school so we had totally different paths where I was quite… not a nice person in high school, he was a saint in high school. And he got high distinctions in his high school, he passed 6 TE subjects with flying colours. But you know, he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he came out of high school. He didn’t know whether he wanted to go to uni or not. So he didn’t go, and so then he ended up working for the water corporation, that led him onto one job and yeah, now he’s doing boiler making. So there you go, just because you go to a private school doesn’t mean yeah…
GRACE: There’s no one ticket in is there?
JESS: No that’s right.
GRACE: So, you got married and had kids. So do you remember the first time you came across the idea of homeschooling?
JESS: Yeah I do actually. Funnily enough, the first sort of inkling where I thought “this could be for me” was on Instagram. I can’t remember who exactly it was – either @kate_aneverydaystory or @happyhippymama who is now @andrea__sunshine. It was either one of those two, I started following them around the same time, and just seeing their posts and seeing the joy in their lives, that really caught me. I was like “I want that!” and I had already gone through changing the way we parented and school was starting to become an option for us, like you know we were starting to think ‘what are we going to do about schooling? Where are we going to send our children? Are we going to send them to public school? Private school? Are we going to send them to Waldorf or Montessori? Like all those options, and we said homeschooling but my husband kind of laughed that off at the beginning. And then it just kept coming up and that little connection there was really it for me to look into that option more than I had previously thought.
GRACE: So really, it was down to Instagram, wow!
JESS: Yeah, that’s right. Haha
GRACE: So you obviously got to a point where your husband was on board. I mean, was he 100% on board before you decided or where you like on probation, you know?
JESS: No, I was never on probation. It was more, he was like “are you sure you really want to do this?” because we had 3 children under three, so…
GRACE: Oh wow
JESS: Yeah, so Alannah was 3 years old and 2 months when I had Mason and Tiffany was 22 months so, it was just chaos and really I decided that I wanted to homeschool maybe when Mason was about 6 months old. And he was a full on baby. He had reflux really badly. He didn’t sleep for more than 40 minutes for his first year of his life. He was just in a lot of pain, and so it was a really difficult year.
So my husband was like “are you sure you want to do this?”. More so for my sanity I guess than the kids, but you know, I was like “yeah, I do really want to do this” and once I get my mind fixed on something there’s often not much that can really change it. And I really feel, you know, I’m a woman of faith and I really felt like God was leading me down that path as well.
It’s funny, like I never mentioned to anyone “oh, I’m thinking about homeschooling” but a few people said to me “you’d be such a good homeschooler” and lots of those little seeds got sown and I was just like “oh, okay. I’ll just take that on board”. So yeah, that was really cool.
GRACE: Yeah that’s really interesting. So, when you started then, were there a lot of other homeschooling families around you in Perth, locally at that time?
JESS: No, I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling. And even, you know, a few months into Alannah like officially being Kindergarten age, I still didn’t know anyone that was homeschooling so I just jumped on Facebook and I pretty much became a part of every group in Perth and put on a few sites “looking to catch up with some mums around kids this age” and I ended up forming like a Nature play with some other mums and that’s been growing weekly to date. So yeah, we’ve made some really good friendships and connection and my kids have made really good friendships within our Nature Play Co-op.
GRACE: I think as well, people often talk about the kids’ socialisation, but there’s so much opportunity to make friends as an adult to make friends with other like-mined parents, you know?
JESS: Yep, fantastic. Actually, you saying that, I’m actually starting up,, or I want to start up a mother’s study group as well and a place where we can come together and learn things that we can then pass on to our children. Like, you know, we can get together as mums and whoever’s interested in knitting, they can learn how to knit because that’s something that I’ve just recently taken off with. I’m just loving knitting right now! My husband calls me the 27-year-old nanna because every night I just sit there and I get my knitting out and make patches.
GRACE: It’s very therapeutic isn’t it?
JESS: Haha it is! And it’s so great to see a project completed when you’re finished. So yeah, you know I could teach someone how to knit if they wanted to knit. And then they can pass that on to their children or if another mum is talking to some mums in our area and says, you know, “oh I can draw quite well. I’d love to be able to teach some mums how to draw”. So I would really love to be able to nature journal, like I can’t draw at all so it’d be nice to learn a new skill that I can pass back down. Because yeah, we can go on YouTube or learn that way and that’s great. I learnt how to knit through YouTube myself – um, self-taught here! But yeah, it’s also great to have that community around you as well.
GRACE: Yeah, and I think it’s interesting as well that you mentioned learning with adults, because I think that so many people I’ve talked to since starting the magazine have said that same sort of theme… that you’re learning as well. You don’t stop learning, it’s life-long learning and it’s not like you’re the teacher and they’re the student and you have all the knowledge, but actually you’re often learning whatever they’re interested in. And if you’re doing interest-led, or whatever the approach you’re taking might be, if they’re interested in something then chances are you’ll get interested in it too.
JESS: Yeah, definitely. I think their joy sparks your joy as well and it really carries through with whatever they’re doing. Like, my middle one Tiffany, she’s four and a half, she really loves horses right now. And we’ve booked in to go to horse riding in the next couple of weeks. And it’s going to be her first horse riding experience and her excitement for horses right now has got me so excited for her. And to watch her learn, it’s such a joy to see those ‘firsts’, like she can point out the word ‘horse’ and ‘riding’ and she knows those words now because of her passion. It’s really cool.
GRACE: So what style of homeschooling fits your family right now?
JESS: We are so eclectic. I pull stuff from a lot of different philosophies. And also, we just sort of go with the flow of what is suiting our family right now. I’m actually reading a Charlotte Mason companion. I’ve been looking for Charlotte Mason education for a couple of months now and that’s a philosophy I can really see our family following. Especially as Alannah gets older, yeah I can see us walking down that road completely. But also pulling in interest-led learning as well and lots of natural learning. But I think, the more I’m reading about that philosophy the more I’m feeling very drawn to it.
GRACE: And when you started out homeschooling, which was what, a few years ago? 2 years ago?
JESS: Yeah, well when Alannah was in Kindy… yeah so it’s been about a year and a half. Look, my kids have never gone to school so I guess we’ve always kind of homeschooled.
GRACE: Yeah, for sure. I mean from birth is my opinion. They start from birth… but officially, you know, with the registration.
JESS: Officially, registration is actually this year in WA, so it’s prep and they’re not required to go to kindy. Yeah, it will be your guys’ prep, we call it ‘pre-kindy’ here. Yeah, it’s been 7 months now that we’ve been registered.
GRACE: So, then I guess you’ve just been exploring this eclectic style the whole time? You know, just letting it flow organically and seeing what’s right for you in this season that you’re in.
JESS: Yeah definitely, some days I’ll set up provocations and other days it’s just totally like natural learning. I wouldn’t really say “yeah we fit into any one style”. And that’s what I love about homeschooling – you can take what works for your family and you don’t have to follow anyone else’s path. You can make your own path in homeschooling. And your children will make their own path in homeschooling which is what I love. Like Alannah learned about the solar system at the beginning of the year. She was so interested in it, and if you just start talking about black holes she just is fascinated by them. She can tell you all about them. I don’t know too many 5-year old’s that can talk about event horizons and I learned so much about that! By watching things, like documentaries with her and I just love it. They’re not confined by curriculum.
GRACE: So in terms of planning, I mean I know that every state is different in terms of requirements and you’ve only been doing it for a couple of months but what kind of planning do you do that works for you and also meets their requirements? Do you plan weeks in advance or terms in advance? Do you follow the cycle of school and holiday terms?
JESS: We just learn all the time. That’s just my answer, we do. We don’t really have breaks. I love school holidays though because I get to see our friends that go to school now – the girls’ friends that go to school. It’s nice seeing them in school holidays. The girl’s moderator is a lovely man, and he just wants to see evidence of learning so we don’t actually have to plan out anything. They just basically look back and see what you’ve done and what resources you were using and then go from there. They don’t really even need to see any work from the child at all either. That’s not required in WA, they just need to hear evidence from you about their learning progression. Yeah, I think it’s a little bit different to NSW.
GRACE: Yeah, I think NSW could be one of the stricter states. I’m not currently registered obviously with a one-year-old so I’m not the best person to ask but I think certain states are a little more lenient in terms of what they expect from parents. Maybe I’ll move to Western Australia if it gets too hard!
So describe your average day then, what does your average day look like? I know that every day is probably very different but, you know, on the ordinary day, when you’re just spending time on your property perhaps, what does that look like?
JESS: An ordinary day for us would be – we’d get up anywhere from 5 o’clock in the morning til 8. So, the days we get up really early we usually just chill out in front of the fire until we thaw out and have a nice hot breakfast. But yeah, if we get up a bit later we usually eat breakfast and then the kids will chuck on their wellies (Wellingtons - plastic boots) and get dressed and we’ll head out and do morning chores. So it’d be like, feed the dog and do the chickens and it’s a great thing for our kids to learn – like responsibility - and we might do some stuff out in the garden, whether it’s pruning or a bit of gardening, and then we generally come in around 9:30. We’ll get some morning tea together and I do a morning circle time with the kids and that’s when we do a memory verse, we’ll read the bible, we’ll do a devotion and then read a book. Like we’ve been reading Winnie the Pooh, we’re going through Winnie the Pooh right now. We’re doing the house at Pooh corner, and the kids are really loving all those stories. Even Mason’s been listening, which is amazing!
And then we’ll do a poem or put some music on, and then after that everyone has a bit of free play inside. Alannah and Tiffany might choose to do some art and craft or they’ll get the play dough out or, you know, potter around or help me. And I usually start doing some chores around that time. And then we come together for lunch, we’ll read another story – Mason’s just dropped his day sleep so that used to be such a nice time for all of us to have quiet down time and that’s not happening anymore, so I’m mourning the loss of nap time. So yeah, we usually read a book after lunch and then we’ll usually go outside again and then by about 4 we’re getting dinner ready and baths and dinner and then off to bed. So yeah, we don’t have a TV which has been really really great. We didn’t put a TV in the shack. We just wanted our kids to not always be drawn to technology, and while they still do love technology – we have apps on the iPad and we do have a computer where they can watch movies and TV shows – it’s just been really great. I was brought up with the TV always on in the background so it was a really hard habit for me to break, not always having the constant chatter of the TV. It’s been so nice just to have peace and quiet in the background while we play or whatever. Or putting music on instead… so it’s been really lovely. Yeah, that’s a general day for us. We don’t have to follow any schedule or we don’t have a real strict routine, but we have a nice rhythm to our day, everyone sort of knows what’s going on at this time and different days of the week we usually do things. So like, on Monday, that will be our “shopping and errand running day” and then on Tuesday we’d do lots of art, like that’ll be an art day and then Wednesday we do lots of baking. So got different rhythms for each day which is really nice.
GRACE: Yeah, and I think that’s a nice balance to strike because kids actually do respond to structure. But then I think so many parents say – especially the ones that did do school before homeschooling – they say ‘Oh, I love not having to do the school run and the rush out the door’, so I think it kind of comes down to not the fact that you have structure, but where the structure is, and how much control you have over it when you get to do things.
JESS: And it’s just allowing the kids freedom within that structure as well. We have time to stop and smell the roses, like if something is really interesting. You know, the girls really help me out in the garden – and Mason too, he’s a bit young to get on the tools – but my 4 and 5-year-old use secateurs and they know how to prune all our fruit trees and they’ve been learning right alongside me and they’ve been helping me do it. It’s just fantastic.
GRACE: So, do you think that your kids will ever want to go to school?
JESS: I know Alannah does not want to go to school. She’s at the age now where she has friends who are at school and she just sees it as – I don’t know what she sees it in her head but I think maybe she just sees it as “Oh I don’t want to sit down at a desk all day”. Yeah, she’s like “no, I don’t want to go to school”. Tiffany likes to play school sometimes so she’ll be like “oh I’m going to school. Bye!” but yeah, I don’t know. I’ve asked Alannah. I’ve never asked Tiffany before. But yeah, I don’t know. And if they ever wanted to go to school I would be happy for them to give it a go because I think, maybe not when they’re so young, but definitely when they’re older if they wanted to give school a go. There would be that freedom there for them to choose to see, because they might be curious about what actually happens at school.
GRACE: Yeah, that’s a good perspective. I know that you’ve sort of had this decision to homeschool happening for a while, but do you still feel like you come up against opposition or resistance to it from strangers or your family and friends? People that you know? Or is it more of just a thing now where everyone knows it’s what you do and so it’s just an accepted thing?
JESS: Yeah, for family and friends, obviously because they’ve known for so long and everyone’s been so supportive of it I didn’t really come with any resistance from family or friends, like my good friends. It’s never been an issue. We’ve always been a bit different too so they probably just expected us to do that.
GRACE: Yeah, it helps when you’re running a homesteading, self-sufficient farm! Or aiming to at least, and living in a tiny house – those things are all different anyway, so…
JESS: Yeah exactly haha! So they’ve just always expected it, and I’m finding it even – when I first started homeschooling, people would be like “oh wow, you’re going to homeschool, wow”. I guess because my kids look so young and so close together, they kind of thought who’s this crazy lady. But as they’ve gotten older it’s really opened up some conversations with people which has been really interesting. And some responses I get… like we recently did quite a few activities over the school holidays because there’s so much kids’ stuff on all over the place during school holidays, and we went to a wildlife show in the city and a lady was like “oh I bet you can’t wait until school holidays are over” and I was like “oh we actually homeschool so you know, there’s never any holidays” and she’s like “oh, oh okay. Oh wow that’s really good” and her whole demeanour changed and she started talking about how she knew someone who was homeschooled and what they’re doing now and how great it was because obviously it was a success story. But yeah, it was just so funny – people have this consensus of can’t you wait until school holidays are over, but we’re like no, we don’t do school holidays. So yeah, it’s really interesting to see people flip. I’ve had it happen a few times actually.
GRACE: What was the best piece of advice you received early on in your journey? Maybe from another homeschool mum or on Instagram?
JESS: I would say, I’ve read so many blogs, and I still read so much in the homeschooling community. And the best advice was just to not compare your life – and I guess this is good for anyone in general, whether you’re homeschooling or not – is not to compare your progress to someone else’s because your family dynamic is different to anyone else’s family dynamic. You know, kids have different needs, and they learn at different paces as well, so it’s just accepting where your kids are at and enjoying the relationship with them and not comparing, because comparison steals your joy and joy is so important – especially when you’re homeschooling. Having that joy in your home atmosphere makes everything so much better.
GRACE: So what is getting you excited in this season coming up right now?
JESS: Oh, definitely moving to the tiny house for one. Yeah it’s going to be nice living in something that has walls, because the shack doesn’t have any walls – it’s like living in one big room right now so that’ll be exciting. I’m just excited in general for life. I’ve recently been through some really challenging times, and coming out the other end of it and just getting a bit more freedom now has been really good. I think your perspective on stuff is just so important too, so often I get people saying “I couldn’t live the way you’re living right now, I don’t know how you’re doing it” and I guess it really just all comes down to perspective. But yes, I can’t wait to move into the tiny house.
GRACE: Yeah, and do you feel like with your kids, that they’re at a stage right now that you’re really loving, like the age that they’re at? Or is there particularly a stage you’re looking forward to? Or are you just trying to love every stage?
JESS: Trying to love every stage. Like it’s so hard. When Alannah was little, you always cannot wait for that next season with your eldest, like and it’s different for the middle and subsequent children because you’ve already been through that stage, so I think you relish it a little bit more. But that older child you’re always thinking what’s going to be next so it’s really hard to just slow down and enjoy the moment. I love the ages that they’re at now. Mason is a handful, I’m not joking, he’s a handful. So different to what the girls where they were his age. It makes going out for excursions really hard so that’s a season where we’ve had to really pull back on excursions. I feel sorry for the girls because we go and they want me to read things and look at things and take time, whereas Mason is running in the opposite direction so I have to chase after him. So it is tough. So it’s a season of us probably staying at home more or going on nature walks and enjoying that and as Mason gets older, then we’ll be able to go and do those more learning type things. I’m looking forward to when he gets a little bit older and we can all enjoy going out and doing things where I don’t have to worry about if he’s going to run off because he is my runner.
GRACE: And I think the other thing is that the museums will always be there and being a homeschooling mum you will have time to visit them.
JESS: Yeah, that’s right.
GRACE: Alright well just the last question to wrap this lovely chat up. Do you have any advice for parents who might be listening to this podcast and are wondering whether they should consider to homeschool, whether it’s the right decision and fit for their family?
JESS: Yeah, I would say just go for it. School’s always there if you think “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to do this anymore”. If you are really considering homeschooling, just jump into it, like fear first… because there’s going to be that initial “oh my gosh, what am I doing? What’s everyone going to think of me? Are my kids going to take to this?” There’s going to be so many questions running through your mind, that you just have to do it afraid and step out afraid. And I think once you step out and over that threshold of fear, there’s just a joy and a freedom found in that place over the fear. And, you know, all those questions will be answered in time. But if you are wanting to homeschool your children, for whatever reason, I would just say, yeah go for it. There’s always school, there’s always that option to go back again if it doesn’t work out. So for me, our relationship with our children is just so amazing – not perfect! There’s still attitudes and stuff there on all sides, a bit of grumpiness – but on a whole our relationships are amazing. And it’s been so awesome just to watch them learn and see them grasp concepts – because we’re in those early stages. But if you have an older child even, just learning alongside them would be just such a joy. So yep, just step out.
GRACE: Hmm, yep that’s great advice. Well, it’s been a delight chatting to you Jess. Thank you for letting me into your life for the last, almost hour. We’ve had some really good stuff to talk about and dig deep on. We’ll do it again, let’s chat again some time once you’re in the little house and you’ve got a different perspective yet again, which life always brings us.
Just before you go, where can people who are listening find out more about you and your journey?
JESS: I have a blog: www.fiveinthetribe.com or you can find me on Instagram @jess_fiveinthetribe – that’s my handle.
GRACE: Cool, and we’ll put those details up with this audio link as well so people can find you. Alrighty, well take care and I’ll chat to you soon. Have a good night. See ya