I thought it would be interesting to invite Elijah (aged 17.5 years) to have a little interview about looking back on his years being a homeschooled child. I did this with my daughter Stassi a while ago. You can read her responses HERE.
Me: Ok, so tell us a bit about who you are and where you're at right now please.
Elijah: I'm 17 and a half now. I've just completed a Traineeship at a local joinery and carpentry business here in our town. I'm about to start an apprenticeship. The traineeship went for about 18 months and I did a Certificate II in Furniture Making with it too. A couple of my hobbies include building with Lego, working on my solo Minecraft Survival World, building the odd project in woodwork (at home like bookends) and going for drives in my car. My favourite type of music right now is scream-o kind of music because for some unknown reason it calms me down.
I love going out into nature and build forts made out of logs and natural things I find there.
Me: So you were homeschooled from Kindy through to the end of Year 10. What are some of the things you liked about being homeschooled? Some of the things you see now as being valuable?
Elijah: One of the main reasons I liked being homeschooled was because of the one on one time we had and the chance to go deeply into subjects that interested me (some more than others). A couple of the subjects that interested me most were science (engineering/robotics - which most of the time involved Lego building!), art (which was the reason why I eventually had 3 solo art exhibitions), and read aloud tea times (mostly because there was a snack involved hahaha!)
I especially loved when we'd do a variety of edible science activities like the time you bought out jelly crystals, m & m's, food gel and we made edible plant cells. Or there was the time we made edible double helix strands out of jelly lollies, snakes and marshmallows and toothpicks. These stand out to me because I think if you hadn't made them out of food, that subject probably wouldn't have interested me. Because you made it out of lollies though, you had my full attention!
I see now how practicing talking to people has really helped me in my job today: I deal and interact with customers on a daily basis now. When I was homeschooled and we'd go out on excursions or just into the community, I was always practicing how to communicate well with others, whether it be chatting with adults or interacting with other kids. I wasn't a big fan at the time and I didn't understand why you'd ask us to talk to the grown ups but now I realise you were upskilling us to be able to talk to people of all different ages.
Overall, I think you guys worked out ways to teach me things that I would find interesting and that I would be invested in.
Me: What about challenges? Were there things you found really hard about homeschooling?
Elijah: Probably English and spelling were the things I found hardest. That's mostly because of being dyslexic that I struggled with these. I know that I didn't have the working memory or capability to remember the correct grammatical terms or spelling rules but to help this you did try and find ways to counter-act it and help my memory. Drawing pictures of things to help me remember words was helpful because I love being creative.
Me: How do you feel homeschooling looked out for your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional health?
Elijah: Mentally, for a while I wasn't so great in general (not because of homeschooling but because of me not feeling understood or understanding myself) and so because of being homeschooled, I was able to get into therapy and have conversations about how I was feeling. I think if I'd been in school I would have struggled more because I'm sure I would have been judged by my peers and not been as connected with my family. I think too I would have struggled at school with keeping up at a different pace. At home I was able to work at my own pace and not have the pressure of keeping up with assignments and projects and dates and things that could have caused a breakdown...I was able to work at my own pace and at the level that suited me best.
Physically, I played basketball and did Little Athletics. I was able to travel to a different town to play basketball in a junior league - this couldn't have happened if I'd been at school because the games started at 4pm and it was an 1.5 hours to get there. That would have been impossible if I'd been at school.
Spiritually, my faith has always kept me going. Even when I'm struggling I've been able to sit down and chat with God and unload and mention to Him the things that I'm thankful for too. There's flexibility to be able to do that within the homeschooling day. Building that strong base of faith when I was younger has really helped me today.
Me: So you finished high school studies at home. How did getting into the Traineeship and finishing year 10 work out for you?
Elijah: I still had about 5 months left of year 10 to go and you took us to the Trade Day at the local high school. There I met a lot of different people from various companies and businesses around town and our local region who were offering causal work, traineeships, apprenticeships and different sorts of courses. My now employer was there displaying CAD programming for cabinetry. I then had a go at building a dummy cabinet and enjoyed doing that. A couple of days later I dropped in an application and my resume for the apprenticeship and ended up doing some work experience there. At the end of that, they offered me causal employment until the end of that year which then turned into the Traineeship. I've really enjoyed working where I do because it involves being creative and thinking outside the box. It couldn't be more perfect for me. Just before I started the Traineeship, I finished my year 10 studies and we applied for the Completion of Year 10 Certificate which I got.
Me: Best stand out homeschooling memories, experiences or visits?
Elijah: Lego expo in Canberra and CLUG meets, Questacon (free fall is the best!), catching up with friends, bushwalks for hours on end, picnics, read alouds in parks, swimming, visiting family for holidays, hours building in the Lego room, sketching, going to libraries, museums and galleries, cooking things and learning life-stuff (like life skills). It wasn't just our parents raising us either, it was the whole extended family inputting their experiences and sharing their life lessons with us - that stands out to me.
Me: Is there anything else you'd like to add about your journey as a homeschooler Liji?
Elijah: My best advice for homeschooling parents would be listen to your child about what they would like to do. Invest in their interests and allow them to get creative and to have time to themselves. To homeschooling kids I'd say don't worry, there are other kids out there like you and me (who are quirky, who listen to heavy music or who don't get English stuff) and you'll get through this. Believe me, it's worth it in the long run. The skills and lessons you're being taught now will help you later on in your life. Keep your head up and push through.
Mum: Thanks for sharing with us mate. Love you.
Elijah: Thanks Mum. Thanks for believing in me. Love you too x