Having nine kids who never leave home might be hard for some parents but Jillian Wilson counts it as a blessing.
The Otahuhu resident and her husband Brian homeschool all their children and have done for more than a decade.
It wasn’t planned, Mrs Wilson says, but started because she didn’t have a car and walking three small children to kindergarten “seemed like too much work”.
Someone at church mentioned homeschooling and the idea stuck.
“I just didn’t like the idea of not knowing what was going on in my children’s day,” Mrs Wilson says.
“Sending them to someone else to look after for the whole day – I just thought I’d rather be with the children.”
She believes it’s a great way to get things done because there aren’t the same constraints on time.
The children are proud to be homeschooled and put on a concert at the Otahuhu library as part of Homeschool Awareness Week this week.
They regularly go out on “school trips” and have the freedom to do so whenever they want, Mrs Wilson says.
Books, the internet and the kids sharing their knowledge with each other are the primary ways she likes to teach.
When someone doesn’t know an answer they can feel confident in asking one of the older siblings, she says.
And if no one knows then there’s always the library or the internet right at hand.
“Everything these days is institutionalised and most people believe that you need to attend courses to learn anything.
“Nobody ever gave me a course on how to be a mum – I just learned by doing.
“I didn’t have to follow a curriculum to teach my children how to speak English, I didn’t have to follow a curriculum to teach my baby how to walk.
“I just gave lots of encouragement.”
Being able to work with her children on their schoolwork has allowed Jillian to follow their progress intently.
Eldest son John Henry showed an early interest in electronics and she has helped steer him towards that.
“When he was eight he wasn’t that good at reading but he could follow a circuit diagram,” she says.
It isn’t hard to imagine why – his dad is an electrical engineer who teaches at Manukau Institute of Technology.
John Henry says he enjoys homeschooling because it gives him time to dismantle things like old cellphones.
He also plays numerous musical instruments. And learning with his brothers and sisters offers plenty of entertainment and competition, he says.
When it comes down to it, family is the most important aspect of homeschooling, Mrs Wilson says.
“It’s not about whether you have a degree, it’s whether you have the confidence and want to spend time with your family.”
– Manukau Courier
From the Smiths:
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling: