Friday, September 7, 2012

Homeschooling Ryan

Proposed Home Schooling Program for Ryan Elizabeth Connor
(as submitted on September 4, 2012)

Background: I have given a great deal of thought as to what is best for Ryan in terms of her academic, artistic and social and emotional development. I have always been an ardent supporter of the state school system in any given country, firmly believing that it is in our state schools that the hopes for our country lie. As newcomers to Australia, I am proud to have three children in the state school system here in Queensland and plan to have a fourth enrol when he is of age.

Coming most recently from Germany, a country where home schooling is illegal, I also value the choice we, as Australians, have in determining our child's education. I believe a formal school environment is the best choice for most, but not all, children. Ryan has had difficulties learning in a classroom since she began school in Germany. As a gentle, artistic spirit she has also been picked on and teased since she began school.

We chose to leave Germany in part because the option to home school Ryan was not a legal option there. They were unable or unwilling to meet the academic and emotional needs of my child but also unwilling to provide me the freedom to do so myself.

The Queensland state school system has surpassed our expectations in every way. Ryan repeated Year 5 in 2011 (the equivalent of Year 4 in Germany). She gained confidence as she repeated skills she had been unable to grasp the first time around in Germany and she gained pride in her achievements as an artistic spirit and creative being. I am grateful to her teachers at Lawnton State School for giving her a sense of self-worth.

Ryan still struggles academically to grasp basic mathematical and literary concepts. More concerning is her personal dissatisfaction with her peer group at school. She still gets teased and picked on. She is different. As the school year continues I begin to see the same signs of depression and anxiety that I saw in Germany. And here, I can do something about it.

I never saw myself as a home schooling mother. I saw myself as a career woman who would go back to veterinary medicine, or take a creative writing and literature course at university, once I got the kids settled into their school routines. Watching Ryan quietly grow into a creative, independent being and watching her struggle in a traditional educational environment has forced me to reconsider my priorities.

As a veterinary surgeon with eight years of post-graduate education, I have the academic background necessary to teach Ryan maths, science, English and technology. As a writer and creative being myself, I have the interest to help her explore the arts, society and environment, and language. As her mother, I am more qualified than anyone else to help her discover and improve upon her strengths while developing basic academic skills I deem necessary for life in the real world outside of the arts.

My goal is to raise a happy, creative, independent, confident human being.

I propose to home school Ryan through 2103 and then see how she and I feel about her reentering a traditional school system in 2014/2015. In that time we will work on basic maths and English skills as well as explore other cultures (India in SOSE, German in LOTE and American/Australian early settlement contrasts and comparisons in history), the ecosystem, biology (through her interest in horses!) as well as having her explore, expand and develop her artistic interests in visual arts, music (flute) and knitting.

Our strengths will be our flexibility within my rigorous academic expectations.

The only argument I have heard against my home schooling Ryan has been a caution to avoid isolation. She has her horseback riding with a group of girls at the barn. We intend to continue private flute lessons and have her join a youth band. She wants to enrol in a gypsy dance class and in knitting classes. She and I will also begin as reading volunteers in her twin brothers' year one class next term.

I question the premise that our most important social skills are formed in high school.

I have struggled for twenty five years to unlearn the need to satisfy the expectations of others, something my daughter has already managed to discover without my help.

We are both looking forward to beginning this journey together, not knowing where it will lead us, but confident that we have the right partner to travel with.

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