Homeschooling Adventures in the Netherlands, Part 8 – Month 6 of Learning at Home

It’s the last few days of our holiday. It’s been nearly 5 weeks away. We are just starting to settle down and feel at home. We’ve learned the main roads to get around. We recognize major landmarks. We’ve slowed down and enjoy time being our own; ours to decide what to do with as opposed to ‘having’ to do so much each day. Hubbie is feeling really despondent, he’s really not had enough rest, in part due to my restless need to always be doing something, going somewhere. We tried to compromise but he didn’t feel I’d done enough of it! Our vision of what’s important just isn’t the same; I feel driven to keep taking the kids out to see and do things. I feel it’s part of the kids’ education and now that I’m homeschooling, I am responsible for it.

Hubbie says I talk about homeschooling incessantly, that I can’t talk about anything else. When I asked, “Like what?” he answers, “Politics? Religion?” I answer, “I’m always up for a juicy discussion on those subjects. Why don’t you start one?” He acknowledges that perhaps he shares the blame; maybe it’s also up to him to think of something else to talk about. I’m sure other homeschooling Mums have the same problem. Our kids’ education is such a preoccupation for us. Our children’s education is so darn important. Society constantly says so and we agree (we just don’t agree on what a great education looks like. Nor can homeschoolers for that matter, not even homeschoolers of any particular hue – for instance within unschooling). But Dads have other preoccupations – like putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. Hubbie knows what it’s like not being able to take either of these for granted. I understand his preoccupation. At the end of the day, he feels blessed to have great kids, they’re still young, he sees how much happier Edward is at home, Edward can read and add up a few numbers so he’s not worried. But I worry. Every day! When we started homeschooling, we agreed I would take sole responsibility for it. I let it be known, for the record, that I’d love him to do whatever he could to help, that it would be lovely if he could share his love of Maths with Edward but that hasn’t happened so far.

When I mentioned how I was also feeling stressed about going home – how each day I had to think, ‘What is this day going to look like? What are the kids going to learn about today? Should they be following some sort of schedule or curriculum, even if only a little bit?’ he perked up, “We can talk about that! I can help you choose a curriculum! Just let me know which ones you’re thinking about!” “But”, I said, “That’s the point. We can’t decide the practical ‘how to do’ homeschooling until we’ve nailed down our philosophy and that’s what I’m interested in talking to you about.” His face fell. ‘Philosophy again’, I’m sure he thought. It’s not Hubbie’s ‘thing’, Philosophy, he wants specifics, action plans, something tangible to decide. But so much about homeschooling, good homeschooling, is I think knowing what your philosophy is, not just what your education philosophy is, but also your life! It became even clearer over the holiday that Hubbie’s Philosophy is that family time comes first and that the kids are still young so museums and things aren’t vital and that I should relax more!

But Hubbie and I come from very different places. He didn’t have access to museums or historical sites and doesn’t seem to feel he missed out. So he doesn’t seem to feel the kids are missing out much on these either. This isn’t the case with toys though! Hubbie showers the kids with toys because he felt the desperate lack of these as a child. In contrast, as a child, I was privileged enough to regularly visit museums, historical sites, the odd ballet, play or concert and despite not always enjoying them at the time, I’ve gained a real passion and enthusiasm for such things and I feel these really contributed to who I am. I think they’ve really made me a much more cultured person and I want the kids to be ‘cultured’ too. A quick net definition of cultured threw up, “Characterized by refined taste and manners and good education” and “Educated, polished, and refined; cultivated” but also “ Produced under artificial and controlled conditions: cultured pearls” Mmm. Interesting. Do I want my kids to be like cultured pearls or diamonds in the rough?

I want my kids to have a good idea what someone is talking about when they say, ‘Wow! That Paris Metro stop is definitely in the art nouveau style!’ or have a good idea whether the following statement is true, ‘Romans were disciplined fighters, they didn’t go running around with spears like the Greeks! The way they used their shields were crucial, they used their shields to get close to the enemy and stab them in close quarters with their short swords.” (It’s an accurate statement). I want my kids to have a much better grasp of Geography than me – to be able to find most countries on a map (whichever way around it’s held). I want them to know which is the tallest tower in the world and a bit about how it was constructed. This learning certainly doesn’t have to come from textbooks but from what’s around them and although family is so, so important, I always want the kids to learn from other people too, experts or enthusiasts, especially those people and things that are really exceptional around them – like the people and things at a place like ‘Archeon’ in the Netherlands. These people are passionate about what they’re demonstrating and the kids got a hands-on introduction to a swathe of geography and history. None of this is available in Bahrain. It’s one of the ‘taxes’, as I see it, of living here. So, holidays are the only time to get out and about and broader our horizons. The fact I absolutely love doing it with the kids doesn’t hurt! I love watching them explore and I love watching them try something new because they didn’t just do historical, geographical ‘stuff’ but physically challenging fun like archery and climbing challenges. Are they too young for all this or am I getting it just right? I have an idea what Laura Grace Weldon, author of a favourite book, ‘Free Range Learning’ would say, read her great post on the subject here.

The ‘Climbing Challenge’ was WAY harder than it looked. Everywhere you put your feet swung wildly. The muscles in Edward’s arms and legs were jelly afterwards.

Even the ‘Climbing Challenge’ for littlies was much harder than it looked. It was so wobbly.

This was the ‘staying at home’ time I understood – making new friends and indulging in simple pleasures like feeding the ducks. No duck ponds in Bahrain!

Our last castle visit, the very impressive, Castle De Haar, Utrecht. Stunning especially on a lovely sunny day.

AFTERWORD: If you would like to make life easier (who doesn’t?!) scroll down the right hand side of the page and click the ‘Follow’ button. Posts will be delivered to your email inbox until such time you may not want them any more.

Don’t feel shy! Please always feel free to email me ( or ideally post comments* on any of the days you read, however old they are. Commenting helps others who may well like to have more ideas or suggestions about the topic concerned or you can ask me a question that you think others might also like answers to.

If you’re too busy to comment that day, but enjoyed what you read, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. Again, you have to have clicked on the title of the post to get the ‘Like’ button option at the end of the post. Commenting, ‘Liking’ and Following is much appreciated as it encourages more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Any comments about Maths teaching is still especially appreciated and suggestions about resources warmly welcome, as per the plea in mypost. Take care. Have a great day and thank you for visiting.

*How to make a comment  If you are reading posts on the homepage, you will see at the bottom of the post, in tiny grey writing either e.g. ’7 comments’ or ‘Leave a comment’. Click on this to add yours. If you’ve clicked on the title of the post, you can see any comments that have been left already, and space for your own, right at the bottom of the page. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate.

IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!

Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster  – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you! 


About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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6 Responses to Homeschooling Adventures in the Netherlands, Part 8 – Month 6 of Learning at Home

  1. Thanks for sharing my post Penny.
    I know you’ll relax into your homeschooling life more and more, I’m sure of it. If you’re still in Bahrain years from now the richness of your lives will still astound you. Everywhere in the world there are places to explore that challenge our children’s minds and bodies, people with wisdom to share, and experiences that unfold in ways we can’t imagine. And of course, their freedom to learn at home and out of the home is something you have given them—-priceless.

    Your kids have scooped up more in your five week trip than many children ever see and do. Here I’ve been reading along thinking of the trips I’ve never taken my kids on!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Penny! What a wonderful vacation that you and your family have had this summer. I’ve very much enjoyed your posts about your adventures 🙂 Just a few thoughts … I understand you wanting to “know” your philosophy before deciding an action plan, but if action is what Amjad is interested in, start the conversation there and perhaps that will stimulate him to be more interested in why you are so keen on the philosophy around homeschooling and which philosophy is best for your kids and family. People are motivated and interested in different things, no matter their upbringing. Why not ask Amjad what his goals are for the kids in terms of education, where he wants them to be in 20 years and how he wants them to get there. Ask what kind of education he thinks they wil need to get there and what that might look like to him. You might be surprised what his feedback/questions spark in your own journey in homeschooling and inspire even more important questions in you.

    As for dragging kids to cultured things … mind you I was older, but when I sat in a university lecture hall etc. years later, I was amazed at how much I remembered because I had seen/experienced the things that for so many other kids only knew from books. It made an indelible impression, even if learning was the furthest thing from my mind at the time I was exploring Europe with a bunch of other teenagers.

    Hang in there, you are doing a great job as an educator and a MUM!!!

    • Thank you for this great comment. I will try and get the time with A to discuss these questions as you’ve helpfully couched them. I like that approach but it might smack too much of more homeschooling chat that isn’t concrete enough for him! I will also try Marlene’s tactic (see her comment below) to look at materials and see if that throws anything up. Multiple approaches always good! We’ve just suffered a 24 hour power outage in 45-50 degree heat, fridge full of food thrown away so I’ll wait until moods have improved first! The kids were amazing though! Is this Jade by the way?

  3. Hello Penny,
    I am very happy for your family to have gone on this great adventure these past few weeks. I have only been out of the country once and it has imprinted on me. I can only imagine how this opportunity has touched your children.

    In reading your post I wondered if your husband might find his philosophy in looking at different curriculum. I know I did. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted until I started poking my nose around a bit. Maybe you need to find what you like and then show him three or so sample education plans and go from there. (my curriculum is mostly as a resource. I still really like child-led learning)

    When I was trying to figure out how to unschool Emily I met with a mom who had unschooled four kids, well two were still at home. She really just let them do whatever they wanted to do, or so it seemed, and those kids did a lot. If they showed an interest in something she would try to advance it and often that would trickle to something else and bounce around. It seemed fabulous. The best advice she gave me was to not stress about it. As long as I am ready to be there for my kids they can take care of a lot of the learning on their own.

    Also, I read a book a few years ago called Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids. In this book the author gives statistics on twin adoptions over and over again. His argument is that no matter what we do, our kids are going to turn out just as they would have anyway (pending some huge tragedy or abuse). We can give them tons of money and tons of experiences but in the long run they will be and accomplish just as much as they would if they didn’t have those experiences. It is all within them and he argues through his twin adoption stats, their genetic code. That is why you and your husband have such different backgrounds yet have ended up together in the same place. That is why my sisters and I have all differed on our paths.

    Now this can seem quite disheartening but it can also be such a relief for someone like me who is always worried about my kids and how I am influencing them, or not influencing them. They are probably going to turn out just as they would.

    I think this is the longest comment I have ever given. I just want to say that you are doing a wonderful job. You being home with them is one of the best gifts they will ever receive. Don’t stress, just be. It is all going to work out.

  4. Marlene, I LOVE long comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to give it and with so much heart 🙂 I really appreciate your support and that of Anonymous (who’s comment is above). Laura Weldon said the same thing I think – the best gift I/you/all homeschoolers could have given our kids is to offer them the opportunity to learn at home (and out of it!). I have heard about the genetic argument and I’ve always thought I should find it comforting but actually I find it depressing that I might as well not bother (or at least, not bother nearly as much). What’s the point of taking parenting so seriously? Well, at least happiness comes into it. I read a (not very good because it’s nothing very new) book recently ‘Kids who think outside the box’ by Stephanie Lerner with stories of successful people (as defined in various ways). They repeated again and again how the support of their parents made such a difference. According to the genetic theory, that’s not true. But I’m sure it would make them feel better, enjoy the route to success much more and help them enjoy close relationships with their parents than if their parents hadn’t been so supportive. I have a not to look at Oak Meadow btw but been sidetracked by the Olympics! Unfortunately, we don’t have them on TV so I just have to look at the updates on the Internet which is such a shame.

What do you think? Please do let me know. I would love to hear your opinion!

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