Please welcome Michelle, from DownUnder Literature, and the DownUnder Literature Blog, our first ever AussieHomeschool Featured Blogger.


How long have you been a member of AussieHOMEschool and AussieHomeschool Classifieds?

I knew about Aussie homeschoolers for a few years before I joined in 2005.

Tell us a little about yourself and/or your family.

We live in the Lake Macquarie area in a very practical 5 bedroom house in the middle of suburbia. I can walk to the shops and everything is only 5 mins away. My hubby and I have been married for 15 years. We met ballroom dancing. We have four kids 2 boys, 2 girls. We are involved in a church. My husband is an Engineer and he also helps with the home business. We aim for him to do the Engineering for four days per week but at the moment that isn’t happening.

How long have you been blogging? Why do you blog? What are some good things that blogging has brought into your life and have there been any pitfalls? When and where do you blog?

Blogging is journaling for me and I have been keeping a journal for over 10 years. I decided to blog because I enjoy writing my thoughts. Writing helps me to clarify wispy ideas and package them into concrete thoughts. I aim to blog once per week. I use my journal as the kick start to my blog entry. A pitfall of blogging could be addiction. I am becoming more of a computer nerd these days.

How much time each week do you spend blogging? Does anyone else in your family blog? Why the name, Enduring Prize?

Since I started blogging my two eldest kids have. My daughter is loving it and she puts in entries every second day. I called my blog enduring prize because I want to keep my focus on the big picture. Making disciples for an eternity with God.

Do you have any passions besides blogging and family that you’d like to share with us?

I love socializing. Spending time with girlfriends and having people over for dinner or lunch. I love food. I have just brought the book Nourishing Traditions and we are trying out a few recipes from that book.

You have a business, Downunder Literature . Can you tell us a little about that? How and why it started?

My friend Margaret and I were having coffee at her place and talking about our handwriting curriculum choices (you might say I was winging) , we were fantasizing about a good Australian copywork series and what it would look like and then we said LET’S DO IT. So then it just kept growing . We had to get copyright permission for all the quotes. Wow, it was so much more than we expected. When we approached Nuri Mass’ daughter about using a quote I said in a wishful manner, would she consider a reprint and that is how we began. It grew faster and bigger than we first intended and now Ken and I run it as a home business.

Were you homeschooled? Tell us about your school experience?

I did hang out with the tough kids in school and experimented tried marijuana and alcohol. At the school dance, I was 14 years old, I got so drunk that I was taken to hospital by ambulance and I can’t remember any of it. My Mum worked at the hospital so it was particularly embarrassing for her. When I was 15, I ran away from home and hitchhiked to Queensland with some other girls. After I returned home, 2 weeks later, my punishment was church. My wise mother who was not a church goer found a good one and made me go to the youth group and church service and God worked and before I was 16, I had become a Christian and I can’t imagine ever turning back. I love how God turned my life around.
I didn’t have a bad school experience. School had its ups and downs. School was just about socializing for me. I just kept on having a good time. I knew it was easy to get into nursing, my desired university course. So I never really tried that hard.

Were you always going to homeschool, even before you got married? Would you like to share about how you started homeschooling?

I had never heard of homeschooling until my friend Margaret the (co author of the Downunder copywork and Wonderland of Nature Journal) told me she was going to homeschool. We both had boys a week apart. My Son was about 18months old. I thought she was nuts. She told me to read the book Homeschool Burnout by Ray and Dorothy Moore. My husband and I were instantly convinced. At first we thought we would just delay schooling BUT the more we did it the more we became convinced of its merits so here I am 7 years later with no intention of stopping.

Why do you homeschool?

Why I do it now is different to why we did it at first. Now I do it because I can see how well the children get on. How we have time to study the bible together, to read great books, to cook, to spend time as a family and make friends with other like minded families. No one dictates to us what we should be doing. My husband and I follow what we think God is directing us to do. It is a great lifestyle and I feel very blessed to be able to live it. My mother-in-law thinks I do it so I can sleep in.

How long have you been homeschooling?

My oldest son is 12 years old. So if we use the school age definition of 5 years old, it has been 7 years.

Have your children ever been to school? If your children have been to school, why did you take them out and homeschool?

I sent my eldest to school in 2nd grade for 4th term (poor guinea pig). I sent him because I felt like he wasn’t learning enough at home. My hands were tied up with the three other little ones and I was stressed out. He performed well although he was a slow writer. The following year I put the two eldest in for 4th term. I still didn’t like it. I now recognize 3rd term as a time I often feel anxious about homeschooling and I go a little easier on myself. This term I didn’t have the 3rd term melt down (well only a wee one).

Tell us a little about your children.

I have 4 fantastic children. Very close in age. Boy, girl, boy, girl. 12,10,8,6. Very organized.
We are not very sporty. My eldest son LOVES reading, computers, Lord of the Rings. He wants to have some sort of computer career. He is such a blessing to me—so helpful. He has had a lot of responsibility from a young age and he rises to the challenge. My daughter loves reading, cooking, graphic art, drawing, singing, chatting. She has a few girlfriends and seems happy with that. We are very close. My youngest son is a bit shy and happy with his own company . He has amazing concentration. I love him to death. My youngest daughter is as cute as a button. I still love to carry her on my hip. Most morning she crawls in to bed with me for a cuddle. I could go on for hours if you would like me to.

Where do you do most of your homeschooling?

We school all over the place. The kids keep some work in their rooms, we do a lot on the couch and then unit type work around the dining table.

Tell us about your typical day. Do you follow a routine? Describe your educational approach?

I would say I am eclectic with Charlotte Mason tendencies. I have an ideal day but that never matches a typical day. I only manage to achieve that ideal once or twice per term if I’m lucky. I will call this confessions of a homeschool mum.

I get up before 8am most days, having had cuddles in the bed with the youngest. Then I make breakfast for myself and the kids make their own. I then slink back to bed with a cup of tea and do a bible study, some journaling , some health treatments, shower etc. I tell the kids to get out of bed. They are usually reading under the covers. Some may start their copywork or maths. Mostly they can be found playing with Lego or building a cubby or tinkling on the piano.

At about 10.00 we all rally together in the loungeroom. We do a bible reading where everyone does some reading aloud, then a few questions, then prayers everyone says one prayer or more. The kids are now allowed to do something quietly in the room while I do the read alouds. I do two regular read-alouds and then a third one for the day.

I usually have 1 Christian classic or a Christian hero biography, at the moment it is a Patricia St John book. The 2nd book is a historical book. We are currently reading Commodore Perry and the Land of the Shogun. Then I do another book or activity that we all do together, for instance; a nature reader and we make a nature journal entry; or a picture study, we studying The Pioneers by Fredrick McCubbin; or a geography entry related to the read aloud. That usually takes up to 2 hours. I feel a bit worn out after that. I send the kids to finish off their independent work of ;one copywork page, one narration of a chapter of the book they are reading or a dictation and 2-4 pages of math. The two younger ones do a lesson from Primary Language Lessons with me which may involve some spelling once per week. I also try to do a reader with the youngest. It doesn’t always happen.

What can you teach in the homes that is not taught at school?

Many thing for we have TIME.

Are you qualified to teach your children?

Yes of course. God made me their mother.

What is the one “chore” you, personally, would rather avoid?

Cleaning the oven.

What do you do to relax?


What is the hardest thing about homeschooling for you?

It was when I had babies and toddlers. That was the most stressful. But now it is never having a really tidy house.

What do you love most about homeschooling?

The lifestyle and family closeness.

What is the strangest or funniest thing someone has said to you about homeschooling?

A friend who homeschooled in NZ told me this.
She said a group of homeschool mums and kids met at the library for a get together. A lady came up to them and said to the group, “Are you all homeschool mums?”.

Proudly they answered, “Yes, how can you tell?” Expecting the women to reply with words like—your kids seem so intelligent, polite, or curious, they were a little embarrasses at her reply. She said “You keep saying to the kids leave me alone and go and find something to do.”

What is a favourite Bible story and why? What is your favourite verse in the Bible?

I have seasons with favourite bible stories. My current one is with Mary and Martha. You can read about it on my blog. My favourite verse is Rom8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and live according to his purpose.”

What is your favourite homeschooling book?

I have two: ‘Seasons of a Mothers Heart’ by Sally Clarkson and ‘You Can Teach Your Child Successfully’ by Ruth Beechick.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new homeschooler, what would it be?

Relax and read.

Who would you say has been your biggest influence and inspiration?

God. The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. My husband and Kids.

[note color=”#CAE0EC”]Thanks Michelle! It was delightful to have you here. I look forward to reading your blog posts and devouring your great resources.[/note]