If you read our recent post from Esther Te Aotonga, you’re were probably as fascinated as we were with the way that the Te Aotonga family organises their lives around home schooling their children. In this post in our Great Kiwi Families series, we learn a bit more about the life of a home educating family from Janet Ridsdale and her family. 

What do you do and what are your interests?

This is my 12th year home educating our three children. Most of my time is spent with them, discovering their interests and passions and looking for opportunities to support their growth and learning. It is both challenging and wonderfully rewarding. Home educating gives us great flexibility to go off on a tangent if we want to, or spend as long as we want to on an activity. If a book we are reading is just too exciting to stop, we don’t 🙂 The absolute best part is time together.

Tell us a bit about what makes your family great.

The things I value about our family are that we are there for each other; we support each other’s interests and celebrate successes in big things and little things. We pray together.

What’s your family’s favourite thing to do?

Reading together is a favourite thing to do. We have a lovely spot by the river near to where we live. It is a wonderful place to go to read together. We have enjoyed books like the Chronicles of Narnia and adore the New Zealand series, The Barn Chronicles by Rosie Boom. We love to visit other places around NZ and explore. The whole family enjoys music so we love to hear kiwi musicians live, like Luke Thompson, Dave Baxter and Joseph and Maia.

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

Now that our eldest two are doing NCEA by correspondence through Te Kura, technology has been invaluable for communicating with teachers, taking part in online tutorials, completing assignments etc.

The children have had success entering animated movies in environmental competitions and just recently our son designed an enrichment toy for a zoo animal that involved putting together a power point presentation. They have also made many music videos. It’s not all about information technology though, they also like doing woodwork with Dad and are great experimenters in the kitchen.

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

When it comes to the computer it’s the kids who do the teaching!

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

Ask lots of questions of those already educating the way you would like to. Join a local support group. Give it a go, be gentle with yourself and trust that you will make the best decision for your family. It’s okay to do things differently – it can even be exciting. Most of all, give each other the greatest gift ever, time together.

Finally, we’ve just had this year’s election – what changes could the government make that would make a difference to your family?

I’m really grateful that we are legally able to home educate in NZ unlike some other countries. That’s the kind of freedom I want the Government to continue to uphold.

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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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