Keywords: School-At-Home, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Structured
Children: Eight – 23yrs, 21yrs, 18yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs, 9yrs, 6yrs

My oldest two have left home and are working. My two teens are doing on-the-job work experience in a cafe and half day training courses at polytech. They sit two hour practical exams every few weeks. The cafe work is a little like an apprenticeship. They are willing to work for free in order to get experience in the food industry and training in the practical and theoretical aspects of running a cafe/takeaway shop. They are also helping family friends (who own the shop and have been having a difficult time due to health issues and a new baby). So it’s a win/win situation and has resulted in my two girls becoming qualified. The owners have offered both girls paid employment for the future. They do two days work in the cafe and three days school work at home. They sometimes take workbooks with them to do during quiet time. The girls are doing really well with that arrangement. They have also added Spanish to their curriculum as the cafe owners are Spanish and are teaching them to read and speak it. All of this takes place largely without me due to their ages. All I have to do is mark their workbooks and get them to do the tests at home, and the rest is done by them.


Lego family


Keywords: Unschooling, Waldorf/Steiner, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Six – 25yrs, 21yrs, 18yrs, 14yrs, 10yrs, 5yrs

My oldest three have graduated from our homeschool. Every morning my children care for their animals, then often take turns on the computer on educational programs or researching items of interest. We discuss the plan for the day and play “20 questions” over breakfast. The children follow their own interests – currently they are into making things with paracord, dog training, painting, jewelery making, drawing, reading, writing, Lego, learning piano, writing to penpals, learning Maori and French, etc. They choose to do some lessons via the internet (a mix of paid and free). The children help with the chores throughout the day. In the afternoons the children often go to the beach, do gardening, visit, or go to the library. We finish off the day with a bedtime story or two. Meal times are a good time to catch up on what everyone is doing and to discuss (and debate) ideas and theories, and tell jokes.


Keywords: School-At-Home, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Semi-Structured
Children: Seven – 13yrs, 11yrs, 10yrs, 8yrs, 6yrs, 4yrs, 8mths

Our approach to home education follows the School-at-Home model mainly because of our family size and the fact that we stick to a daily routine and a set curriculum for the girls who are ten and over. With our preschoolers we enjoy Learning-Through-Play. A typical day starts at 8:30am with the older girls at the family table. Our curriculum (purchased) has the day’s work organised for us and we basically set out to cover that together. My oldest will often take her work upstairs to her room and check back with me later in the morning. Any science experiments are usually done in the evenings. While I’m with my other two older girls at the table I set reading and writing practice for the younger girls in their exercise books. Once the older girls are working independently the baby goes down for a nap and I focus on the younger children. I read to them and get the ones who can read, reading to me. After that they will do the work I set for them, then they might do a maths lesson on the computer, or a word game. The older girls usually get through a whole day’s work by lunch time, although my oldest has a larger workload to do and will often work into the afternoon. Although our style is rather school-like we have always encouraged a joy of learning and have modeled that for our children. We often drop everything to answer a question or pursue a subject that someone is interested in. Our two preschoolers enjoy learning through play – we have used this method for all of our children and they in turn use it with their younger siblings and children of friends.

Keywords: School-At-Home, Unit Studies, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Structured
Children: Eight – 19yrs, 18yrs, 17yrs, 15yrs, 12yrs, 11yrs, 8yrs, 6yrs

We start at 9.30am every day and finish at 12.30pm. Monday to Thursday our schedule runs: Bible study, scripture copy work, spelling, reading/English, math, scripture memorization, foreign language lessons, music practise, and reading aloud. On Fridays we cover history, science, and our current unit study or lap book project. All afternoons are for free time, exploring, field trips, research, chores, etc. My two oldest have graduated from their homeschool. The 19yr old worked a year in our family business and is now doing his OE in Europe. Our 18yr old is in his first year of farming doing on-the-job training and the primary ITO course (theory side of things).


Keywords: Unschooling, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Travelling, Unstructured
Children: Seven – 14yrs, 12yrs, 10yrs, 7yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs, 1yr

My husband is a locksmith and came up with a very important invention to thwart a serious security problem. He wanted to go to the USA to see if he could find a buyer for the invention. We spent three months travelling around in a house bus. Before we left we planned our trip carefully. We had been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and I found out that many of the places she used to live held pageants about her life each summer. We wanted to visit many famous and beautiful places as well as learn some of the history and geography of this enormous country. We were also interested in the different cultures – Amish, Native Indian, Hispanic immigrants, farmers, city living, celebrity culture, etc. Every day was different and filled with educational experiences. My children each had a blank note book which they used to journal our trip, draw some of the sights, and record their experiences. On a typical day we’d travel for a couple of hours, marvelling at the scenery, stop so the children could run around and play. Once we were near the Rocky Mountains and we stopped at a huge pile of inland sand dunes. We stayed until dusk, running around and playing, and then continued our journey. Late into the night we came across a poor woman broken down on the side of the road with her two children. We couldn’t get their overheated car started so we made room for them to join us and we drove them to their apartment about 30 miles away. She was so grateful that she invited us to park up in her garage and have breakfast with her in the morning. We had a wonderful cooked breakfast of hot ‘biscuits’ – these are a kind of scone mixture, brought already mixed in a tube. You just slice off sections and bake them in the oven! She also made us some really sweet cereal and pop tarts, which were sickly-sweet thin pies filled with a variety of fillings, toasted in a toaster and eaten with your fingers. When we left the children wrote in their journals. We talked, helped the children with their spelling, reminded the children of place names, etc. My younger ones dictated their journal entries and I did the writing, or drew pictures (eg. of us all sliding down the sand dunes) which I captioned. One of our trip highlights was visiting the Focus on the Family Welcome Centre in Colorado Springs. We watched a short film about the ministry and were taken on a tour of the studios and departments where research is done and radio dramas recorded. Then we were introduced to Dr Dobson and after that, the part the children were waiting for, we went to explore Whit’s End (the fictional Ice-cream shop owned and managed by John Avery Whittaker and his competent crew). This was a marvellous place of creativity and fun with dress ups, a huge slide, and a model of the imagination station machine for children to climb on, as well as a fully functioning “Whit’s End” where we could buy American beverages like root beer and sarsaparilla. We even made our own episode of the story using real sound effects and a script which was recorded and made into a CD for us to take home! On leaving, someone recommended we visit a beautiful natural reserve nearby called “Valley of the Gods” so we got a picnic together and spent the hours before twilight climbing all over and in and out of beautiful caves, hills and arches of red rock planted with cactus plants and other arid soil wonders. We all climbed back into the bus as the sun was setting behind the distant mountains and headed off for Kansas, singing songs as we drifted off to sleep.