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This will be a retrospective chat with Ethan, our 17 year old. To read my chat with my now 18 year old Elijah, go HERE. To read a chat with my now 19 year old Stassi, go HERE.

Ethan completing a science experiment

Me: Ok, are you ready?

Ethan: I'm always ready - put that in *laughs at his own joke*

Me: Ok so mate, can you tell us about your homeschool experience?

Ethan: I was homeschooled my whole life (as you know) and I really enjoyed it because I was able to learn at my own pace. I could take my time and discover what I really enjoyed doing and further my interests. I really like the fact that I could be outside a lot and even though we did do bookwork too, I always enjoyed doing hands on activities (and any activities that involved food!)

Me: Like the edible science stuff? What was your fave?

Ethan: Definitely the DNA double helix ladder because that was the most sugar I reckon I'd ever had during a 'school' activity and we could snack on it days later. (Read about Edible Science here). Me: Ok so outside of the sugar highs, what other specific activities or outings did you like?

Ethan: My final year 10 project (building a gaming PC from scratch) was definitely my favourite solo homeschooling activity. Other than that, any field trip like going to The National Mint, the National Library, Questacon, going to homeschool meets (basically any trips out of the house). Going on bushwalks through the Blue Mountains, going to Mine-ha-ha Falls and Wentworth Falls Lake are all good memories. Activities like taking apart old coffee machines, TVs, BBQs using the hammer and real tools were fun and interesting.

Family discussions are a big part of our homeschooling journey

Me: How did you find learning with 4 other siblings?

Ethan: I found it really fun to learn with my siblings because we could bounce ideas and sometimes answers off each other. When my two older siblings finished homeschooling I found it a bit hard to learn by myself because I wasn't used to learning by myself. It helped that I only had a year left and to focus on what interested in me. I liked that not all of my 'school work' involved my younger two siblings - I had projects, different activities with you instead of learning stuff I already knew with the little ones.

Me: Now that you are working and studying, how do you feel that homeschooling prepared you for the 'real world'?

Ethan: It prepared me in ways like being able to make phone calls and talk professionally with others. If we ever had a dog sick and we needed to ring the vet, Mum would make us ring up and book the appointment on the phone. This prepared me to use the phone at work. At the time of learning the skill, I wasn't a big fan (I hated talking on the phone!) but now I see that it was worth it - it taught us some good life skills.

Homeschooling also taught me to be respectful of others. Because some of my siblings have learning disabilities, it helped me to understand that some of the people I now work with might learn in a different way.

Me: How do you feel homeschooling looked out for your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional health?

Ethan: Well physically, I'm in fine form (*flexes muscles and again laughs at his own joke!*). I was able to practice basketball a lot which was something that I loved - being able to go outside and play when I needed to. My mental health was alright although I've had some issues with ADHD (medication definitely helped me). I think I would have been a completely different person if I had gone to school and I don't think I would have been as mentally well as I am now (with pressures of school and social stuff too). Emotionally I didn't have to face a heap of problems that kids at school do. I was able to be me without being told that I'm weird or worrying about fitting in. I can talk to adults and kids easily because homeschooling gave me the chance to talk to all different ages of people. Spiritually, I was able to have my own journey with God. Doing the Biblical Feasts and being homeschooled was really good because we were able to focus on our own traditions and celebrations.

Participating in edible science - making the human body systems out of fondant

Me: What are your plans for the future?

Ethan: I always liked I.T. but I didn't like the study side of things - it kind of killed it for me. So instead I'll be training for 4 years as an apprentice in cheffing.

Me: Why did you want to do cheffing?

Ethan: Because I like food and while working at the aged care home, I found out I really like cooking. I enjoy the fast-pace of a kitchen and all the wonderful things that can happen in a kitchen. I like the idea that you can experiment with food and try weird, wonderful and wacky things.

Ethan always loved taking apart things

Me: Is there anything else you'd like to add about your journey as a homeschooler Ethi?

Ethan: I reckon I wouldn't be the same person who I am now without having the time with my parents and family (Aunty walks past and says *and have the most amazing times with my Sulley*) Homeschooling allowed me to pursue my interests, my hopes, my dreams and my passions.

Me: Thanks Ethi for doing this (especially all the jokes)

Ethan: No worries. Thanks Mum for homeschooling me. I'll see you tomorrow ;)

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