Hello. Nope, there’s no intro today, because…I wanted to strip back all those extra layers, and just say a very short, but very heartfelt, thank you. It’s that funny little time between Christmas and the turn of the year right now, where what day it is doesn’t really matter. I’ve been taking a short break from as much technology as possible, giving the creative part of my brain a chance to re-charge, because I think we have a very big year coming up.
The world…as it has done before, and as it will do again…has changed a lot recently. Through that change there has been a great deal of uncertainty, and fear, and tension, and loss. But…there has also been a great deal of unexpected connection, and a growing awareness from parents about what their child needs to thrive. When you ask millions of children across the world to open their school work at the dining table, it suddenly brings parents very close to the educational front line. I think a lot of parents would have been fine with how that played out, especially if their child found it all comfortable and manageable. But a lot of parents – and I personally know a bunch of them – discovered that their child doesn’t really click with the way most schools structure learning, and the testing of that learning. They got to see that first-hand, right up close, day in and day out.
So here we are, going into 2022, with a huge rise in families making the choice to homeschool all around the world. I saw some statistics published over here in New Zealand, and there were almost eight times more school exemption applications submitted in November this year than the same month two years ago. From around 100 new families choosing a life without school in November 2019, to 800 in the November that’s just been. In a country like New Zealand with a relatively small population…that is a huge shift.
I can’t imagine what those statistics are looking like right now globally.
What I do know, though, is that a lot of families are going to need support next year. This global home educating community is growing like crazy, and it’s never been more important to lift each other up, and encourage, and support, and inspire one another.
Which is why I want to say thank you for your support this year. Because you – you – have already spread the Life Without School Podcast further, and wider, than I ever imagined. You have made sure it has grown and become so visible to those who need to hear it. And together, we will keep doing that as we go from 14 to 40 episodes…and then way beyond.
It was in September that I very nervously shared the first episode of this podcast with you – and when I say nervously, I actually mean I was terrified. I don’t love being the centre of attention – I’m not that extroverted person who walks into a room and announces themselves. I’m the person quietly sitting in the corner. So to take my work off the written page – a place I feel very comfortable, as a writer – and to stand in front of a microphone and start talking was…actually a bit overwhelming.
But…I needn’t have worried. Since that first episode, which was really not that long ago, this podcast has been listened to almost a hundred thousand times.
To me, that’s just…mind-blowing. And, terrifying all over again. But this time, in a good way. Because it means these words, and these stories, and these feelings…they mean something. It means that my family and I are not the only ones going through these kinds of experiences. It means there are others walking this path with us, sharing the load together.
It means we’re not alone. And, it is that feeling, and that reassurance, that I want to keep bringing to this community.
As we head into the New Year, I want to make you a promise. I will work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to keep bringing you weekly episodes of this podcast that matter. I will bring you written posts, newsletters, and short films that will help you feel supported, encouraged, comforted and inspired. I will dedicate time every day to answering your messages and questions. I will do everything I can to help bring awareness to the importance of child-centered learning. To bring tangible strategies to parents like you and I who want to make that approach the heart of the way we home educate. To help change the global perception of choosing a life without school, so that it becomes widely accepted as a wonderful way to raise a family.
And together – through the amazing support you always give my work – we will not only lift and encourage each other, but all these new families joining the home educating movement as well.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and that you have a chance to reflect as 2021 draws to a close and a new year begins.
Thank you, again, for being part of growing this mission with me. I truly do mean it when I say I couldn’t do this without you.
Ok, it’s time for me to switch off my devices again and jump back in the ocean. I’ll be sitting down to write the first Life Without School episode for 2022 right after I’ve poured my first coffee on New Year’s Day.
So, take care, and we’ll talk soon, ok?
Bye for now.