The one thing Samantha Doyle refused to compromise on in her relationship was her desire to deliver education to her children from home. Although her husband was home-schooled, and admittedly hated the experience, Doyle has been the primary educator since kindy age and caregiver for her children, aged eight, six, five and 18 months.
Doyle tells SBS that her decision was based around her desire to provide a system that respected the family’s lifestyle and spirituality.
“Our family has its roots in Bhakti Yoga,” Doyle says. “We centre our life around trying to develop our relationship with the Supreme (God).
“What attracted me most about home-schooling was the freedom to create a learning experience that suited our values and spiritual beliefs. I also love the idea of flexibility in delivery. You can really tailor the experience to suit the individual child, so no child ever has to feel stuck or left out. And we are also free to travel.”
“Our family has its roots in Bhakti Yoga. We centre our life around trying to develop our relationship with the Supreme (God)."
With a very busy lifestyle, Doyle is an entrepreneur in the health and lifestyle space, her husband is at university full-time, the family home can feel chaotic at times. “We do have a busy lifestyle but we have our morning sadhana (spiritual practice) together, and also try to get to kirtan as a family three times a week, which is a really nice way to spend quality time together. So yes, it’s hectic at times, but organised. I seriously can't cope with it all if we don't have our routine!”
Home-schooling has always been a hotly debated area for families and Doyle tells SBS that she has received plenty of criticism for her choices. “People have been so rude, critical and out right judgmental. I have never expressed any negativity about school, and would never judge anyone for their education choices, but it seems like everyone has an opinion about home-schooling.”
She has even been accused of neglect. “I've been told I'm abusing my children; that my children won’t be able to function in the world; that they'll be socially retarded; socially inept; that I'm robbing them from having friends.... of course all of this is ridiculous. No education system is perfect.”
With a growing number of families choosing to educate from home in various parts of Australia, with a multitude of reasons including the freedom to learn at their own pace, avoidance of schoolyard bullies and more time together as a family, there is a naturally formed community around these shared ideals, and Doyle says that this is an area of support for their own family.
“These days, home-schooling is quite advanced. I do everything in alignment with the national curriculum, and more, and we are part of a huge home-school community here on the Gold Coast. There are lots of sports, social and nature get-togethers. It's so wonderful.”
“People have been so rude, critical and out right judgmental. I have never expressed any negativity about school, and would never judge anyone for their education choices, but it seems like everyone has an opinion about home-schooling.”
While teaching the three different age groups and individual moods presents a challenge, the most difficult area for the family has been the financial cost. “I was a single mum with three kids when I started home-schooling. You have to give up a wage and finance all the resources. It gets super expensive. That's why I started my own business - to build a life and business around home-schooling. It's really financially tough.”
Lack of finances once drove Doyle to schedule an enrolment with a school, however she chose not to proceed. And with the birth of her fourth child, lack of sleep was also another turning point where school was considered, however, they worked through and decided to maintain their lifestyle.
“Getting to watch all (the children’s) light bulb and breakthrough moments, when they learn a new skill and seeing their mind tick over and their eyes light up is one of the greatest benefits of home-schooling.
“I get the most joy from watching them learn and fuelling their curiosity and passion. It really gives you an opportunity to know almost everything about your kids. There's a really close bond formed.”
For more information and resources on home-schooling head here.