In this series of posts, we’ve been looking at some great kiwi families and some of the things that make them fab. We’ve loved hearing from families that are doing things their own way and in this post, we talk to Esther Te Aotonga, who home schools her children.

What do you do and what are your interests?

I’m a mum which is the best job in the world.  Before that I was a Primary School teacher (and I used to think that was the best job in the world!) I took a year off when our eldest was born.  He is 5 now and I haven’t been back.  I get to be a pirate, a knight, a lion, even a fairy.  I get to go exploring in the jungle, in outer space, underground, anywhere my kids can imagine.  I get to play with slime, glitter, paint, glue, sand, anything we can find and make all kinds of marvellous mess!

I enjoy spending time with all of our animals and teaching the kids about them and how to care for them.  When the day is done I like to curl up with a hot chocolate and a good book.

Tell us a bit about what makes your family great. 
I am very lucky to have awesome kids and a wonderful husband.  We make a great team and work well together.  There is never a dull moment at our place!  Things can get pretty busy but we love it like that and wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

What is your family’s favourite thing to do?
I’m looking forward to the long summer days ahead.  We love loading everyone into the car (including the dog) and heading to the beach with a picnic dinner.  We also really enjoy ‘team dinners’ where everyone pitches in to help  – things like homemade pizzas or homemade burgers (yes, we make the dough too).

Our feature at the moment is ‘education and technology’. Tell us about some of the interesting things you’re doing in these areas… 

Technology is everywhere and it is constantly changing.  It is so easy to access the net and to find information on all sides of every topic without even having to look for it.

The boys have a camera each (3 and 5 years old) and take it pretty much everywhere we go.  They love documenting their adventures this way.  Some of the pictures they take are actually quite cool.

Something they really enjoy at the moment is listening to audiobooks that I had when I was younger (on cassette tapes lol).  We’ve got quite a collection now as we are adding to them.  We Skype regularly with my sister who lives in Australia and the kids are always excited when they see the Skype icon.  There are so many ways of keeping in touch these days.  The boys know how to use the phone and use it to call friends and family as well as occasionally dictating emails they might like me to send.

How does the way you’re dealing with education and technology affect you and your family?

It just happens. I don’t have the tv on during the day at all.  The two older kids are allowed to use the tablet or laptop for educational purposes and only for a set time.  For example both are signed up to Reading Eggs and Mathseeds and can do a couple of lessons a week if they want.   We do use the internet when researching things but we also use the library too.  Of course we use the computers there to help us find what we are looking for.   I don’t know that it has an effect on us as such, it is just intertwined in what we do.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to do education in a different way from mainstream?

Be clear about your reasons for doing this.   You want the best for your child and for now at least this is what is working for that child and for your family.  Find people who are positive and supportive.  Most areas have groups of home educators.  If you don’t know where to look online is a fabulous place to start.  In this day and age of social media you can find support and advice at the click of a button.  There are several NZ based Facebook groups.  Join a few of these to find people in your area, ideas, curriculum resources, events and outings.  Have fun!

(Photo by Rosemary Morris)

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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