Dear Indrani – Part 3

John Barratt-Peacock

In our last issue Indrani confessed to struggling with home education. A low point such as this can be a valuable to reassess our reasons for home education and progress. It was honest and brave of her to share her thoughts at such a low point but, as you saw in the last article, a quiet summer has given Indrani time to reassess and, as a result, she has decided on some changes. However, John picked up on the small business component of her struggles and has some advice for her or anyone combining home education with a small business. 

The overwhelming majority of small business start-ups in Australia fail. Even those that do succeed are unlikely to make enough to support a family of five in the early stages. The emotional, intellectual and organisational demands of successful small business are very similar to those of home education. Which gives the most significant, satisfying and long lasting satisfaction? Having been involved in a variety of small businesses and in 45 years of home education I have not a glimmer of doubt but that home educating one’s own family is far and away the more rewarding activity and use of time and resources. However, they need not be mutually exclusive. 

It is very common indeed for older home educating children to successfully operate their own business. 

Among the hundreds of Australian and overseas home educating families that I have interviewed I recall the rather young Queensland boy who started by mowing a neighbour’s lawn and ended up not only regularly mowing lawns for profit but, as he grew older, developing a mowing machine maintenance and repair service. 

A Tasmanian family, who were already running a very successful business, involved their young girls in some of the record-keeping, office work and communications side of things as a way of developing their English skills and applied practical mathematics. 

In the November issue I was thrilled to see how the business of someone I had met at a home- ed conference had grown from a hobby/interest to the very high quality production of lifelike, life-sized, baby dolls – though ‘dolls’ does not reflect the exquisite nature of these works of art. Small business skills are a useful tool in the overall mix of home education without putting the family at economic risk. 

Indrani noted that her nine-year-old daughter had begun to ‘kick-back’. When children do this it is an excellent sign that all is not well and some re-evaluation may be called for. In that process the children should be involved and, where their contribution is valid, modifications made. Sometimes these reactions have no serious basis but are rather part of ‘testing the boundaries’. If, after careful consideration and consultation, that is the case then my reaction was always, ‘Tough! I am the person responsible for your education and that is my decision. When you have children of your own you will be responsible in just the same way.’ 

Dear Indrani, I know that ‘women can do anything’ but in the gender wars that is sometimes morphed into, ‘women should do everything’. I am sure that you are too wise to buy into that! I believe that the
most important thing adults of either gender have to do is to produce intelligent, competent, creative and well-balanced people to manage their world into the next generation. That is all – but there is no greater challenge and no greater joy when the challenge is fulfilled. 

Otherways 147

Other articles that are part of this:

Struggling – Part 1

Remembering Why I Chose This Life – Part 2

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