#74 Emily Sonsie's Journey: From Primary Teacher to Homeschooling Advocate

FB Emily Sonsie

🗓️ Recorded June 17th, 2024. 📍 At  Åmarksgård, Lille Skendsved, Denmark

Click here to embed this episode on your website

Where do you want to listen?



















 Visit our podcast site


About this Episode 

Emily Sonsie is an Australian educator and homeschooling advocate. Formerly a primary teacher, who chose to homeschool her children, embracing a lifestyle focused on togetherness, nature, and deep connections. Emily aims to inspire others on their homeschooling journeys, promoting education as a natural part of a meaningful, connected life.

Emily shares her transition from traditional education to a child-led approach for her children, driven by disillusionment with the school system's focus on assessments and opaque report cards. 

She describes the profound shifts in family dynamics and beliefs brought by homeschooling, overcoming initial doubts and criticism. The discussion emphasizes the valuable time spent with her children, the joy of their learning milestones, and the freedom from traditional assessments. 

With this episode, we also celebrate the fact that we now have listeners in over 103 countries. Thank you all for listening

▬ Episode Links ▬


▬ Watch the full interview on YouTube ▬

Copy the code below to embed this episode on your website.

<div id="buzzsprout-player-15130195"></div><script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/2103333/15130195-74-emily-sonsie-s-journey-from-primary-teacher-to-homeschooling-advocate.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-15130195&player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>


With love


Jesper Conrad 


00:00 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Today we're together with Emily Sunse, and the reason is I got an email from actually our first ever guest on the podcast, whom you will also listen to in episode 100, as we made a commitment to each other to if we recorded 100, he would be our guest number 100. Oh, episode 100, as we have had some guests coming back a couple of times. So, first of all, welcome to you, emily. 

00:29 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
Thank you for having me. 

00:30 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Yeah, and Amrit, he said that I think you will like Emily and you should definitely talk. So here we are. How do you know, amrit, and where are you in life? 

00:44 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
Amrit and I live on the same street and we both have little kids are about to turn three. So we met through having little babies, which is so nice, and we homeschool and unschool. I have a son who's seven and my daughter's about to turn three and I'm very, very excited about it all and I love, love it. I love it so much. So I was talking to Amrit about it and he was contemplating having me on his podcast. Then he thought I'd be better suited to yours, so that is why we're here today Exactly. 

01:18 - Jesper conrad (Host)
So why did you go down the path of unschooling? What attracted you to this path? 

01:26 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
it definitely wasn't always the path for us. I was, I am, I was a school teacher. I used to teach primary school and I taught for six years and I loved it until I didn't love it anymore. I gave everything to those little kids that I had in front of me all the time and I thought it was wonderful and I had big plans for my kids to go to that school and we were just going to be at that school forever. And then I actually had a child and things started to change. 

01:59 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Things started to change. You can be so wise, you just know it all it that's it. 

02:05 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
You just have a baby and all of a sudden it just changes. Yeah and um. I kept teaching for about two and a half years, but so I left when my son was two and a half. But over that the course of those years, there just became this real disconnect between me and the system and I started to feel really jaded about certain things. I I was never one for all the assessment at all in the first place. I was more. I was the wellbeing leader of the school. Wellbeing was always really important to me, but assessments just started to seem even more pointless and I really didn't want my son getting tested every single day. That was such a big driving force in our decision at the start. Now that's kind of next to nothing, but I can. I'll dive into that later. 

So, yeah, I couldn't imagine him being tested and boxed in and have this report card coming home that essentially summed up my child, you know, in a hundred words or less and told me everything about him over the last six months. But I actually wasn't present for any of it and I didn't actually know what happened or had occurred. And, having been someone who has written many reports for children, they're not the truth either. You have to write them in a certain way, you have to use certain language, you have to be really careful about how you word things. So you're not even allowed to tell the parents what their child is actually like at school and how they're going. 

And of course I wasn't going to swear and say horrible things about kids, but you couldn't even be upfront properly about a lot of their behaviors because you were just trying to protect yourself as a teacher as well. So there was a lot of dishonesty I felt and I didn't want to experience that from my own child's teacher when he went. So when he was two and a half, I I quit at the end of that year and decided we would homeschool and my husband was like what do you mean? Why? What this word you speak of? What? 

03:57 - Jesper conrad (Host)
is this weird thing? 

03:59 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
yes, yeah, I said it's going to be amazing. And he goes. So just for prep, then, just for the first year, we'll home school. I said I think forever. And um, he went, okay, so just for primary school, though when we won't do it for high school. And I was like I think I think we're going to do it forever, uh, but we'll just see how we go. We'll see how we go, because I think that is also the beauty of everything is just following your kids lead as they go. So I don't, I don't know what we'll be doing when my child is 12, because I want him to have equal say in that world that he's living in. So if that means at that point that school is what we explore, that's okay, but it's not going to be something that I enforce on him at all, in force on him at all. And um, here we are. So I've a wonderful homeschooling community around us and just really exploring and living our lives as we want to. 

04:54 - Jesper conrad (Host)
But but, emily, where did you in your life hear about homeschooling and and see it because it is? I know from my own experience that I think if we hadn't had a kid down the block who was homeschooled by his parents, I would never have heard about it. It wouldn't have been a thing. 

05:16 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
So as a teacher, we had some children that part-time homeschooled and schooled. We did not look favorably upon their parents for these decisions. It was very much. We didn't understand as teachers why you would do that. It didn't make sense to us at all. 

So I was familiar with the concept but in that heavy school mindset that I was in, having been a very strong part of the system and been a part of the system since I was two years of age and never left it straight to university, straight to teaching, never had a break, anything to do with the word homeschooling was quite jarring. Why would you do that? That seems completely negligent, is the word that would come to mind, because why would you not give your children education? Come to mind, because why would you not give your children education? But then I, just the moment, I had my own child and I started to see how he can do things on his own. He can. He taught himself to walk, you know, he taught himself to talk and all these systems that we have in place. They're not actually necessary and they're just going to dampen who he is and and place him into this box. 

So I was aware of homeschooling. It was more that my opinion shifted drastically around how amazing it could be when I became a mother. But it wasn't until we were going to go traveling around Australia ourselves when my son was two and a half um. That was one of the reasons why I quit my job as well Australia ourselves when my son was two and a half um, that was one of the reasons why I quit my job as well and didn't end up happening because of those crazy few years that we had. As a global society we don't need to dive into that at all we have talked about that enough. 

But so we didn't end up getting to go traveling, but from that we got a really clear idea of what we wanted to be doing and how we wanted to be living. And that was not through school, that was going to be living life on our terms, whatever that looked like, as best we possibly could. So I didn't know any homeschoolers, I didn't know anyone who did it, and that was my biggest fear. And if I'd really if I hadn't faced that fear front on and head on, I would have definitely stayed in the school system, because what a school system does give you is a community up front. You get to walk in the gates, you enroll your children, you walk through the gates and you are met with loving arms by most people there. 

You know you have teachers who, in their own way, are supporting your kids as best they can. You have a system that is designed to have you a part of it as well, as a parent, if you want to. And then you have your kids in their grade. They make their friends. They're there nine to three. You make friends with the parents. Community is guaranteed and you can make it better if you want to be more involved. But even if you're just at the school gate, it's there for you. The hardest thing for me, because I grew up with a really strong community and in my I had a great school experience personally and I had a lovely community growing up. So for me turning my back on that uh was very scary, because where was I going to get that for my child? 

and for myself as a parent, I we all require community around us. So what did it look like? Where were these people that I wanted to be best friends forever with and have my children grow up with their children? Where were these people going to come from? And that very easily could have stopped me dead in my tracks, but I had a lot of faith that it could happen and we just we joined a lot of meetups and, you know, through lots of trial and error and lots of consistency, we built it. We built the community that we wanted to have. But at the start that was probably my biggest fear around homeschooling not the reading or the writing, it was where do we meet our people? Because no one's going to give them to us. 

09:07 - Jesper conrad (Host)
We have to actively go out of our way to find them but for me this is a little like going down memory lane but not being in the role of the mom, because I was the dad going to work. So my fear was more the reading and writing and the math and all these things that you still believe you you need to master through school. Um, and now we are? Are we 11, 12 years down the path or something? 

09:34 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
one conversation because we're kind of in the other end of it yeah, but almost over the homeschooling. 

09:40 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Yeah, amazing it, it is it. It has been such a wild ride and what I think that where I stand today, uh, and look back, I I see the first couple of years I was um, you can say I strengthened my stamina against this whole school system by being very opposed to school, um, and and and, where I saw all the flaws with it instead of, uh, really realizing all the strengths, or, or, when I talked to people, it was easier for me to go down there, look how stupid this system actually is, and there's so many points where it's just like man, it doesn't make sense. So it's easier. You can get some easy lives and have fun with it and you can open people's eye, maybe to kind of provocating them a little, to look at the system from the outside. But but, but where I am today, what I'm opening my eyes to more and more is the connection with our children and the parenting. 

And if we hadn't walked down this path, if my son hadn't said mom and dad, I didn't want to go to school, if my wife didn't have had the stamina to stand against my insecurity about it, I would have lived such a different life. We've been full-time traveling for six years. It wouldn't have been possible with kids in school, but also the connection we have today with our children. It's just so much bigger. And the widest thing is I look at the amount of hours and I'm like, well, how would you actually live if you are not together with your children for eight or ten hours a day? 

11:30 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
that's just wild completely feel the same. 

It felt like I was giving up being a mother by sending my children away for such a long period of time and, you know, even because we hadn't made this decision until he was two and a half, it really didn't click until we just had this one conversation one night when I was like homeschooling, that's what we need to do, that's what feels good, that's what's. That's the missing piece, it's this system that is causing me to feel all these negative feelings at the moment and to feel really disconnected with my job and with life and when we're out. But then, when I broke it down, it was all the amount of hours that I would lose with my kids and then I wouldn't get to see all these wonderful opportunities with them doing and, and even if, even if you only want to look at the academics, I want to see him reading. I want to be there for that. I want to see him writing, I want to be there for that. But above all, I want that strong connection with my kids and I don't want to feel disconnected from them because I decided to outsource their entire lives to a system that fundamentally, I don't really agree with. So when I mentioned before that. My driving factor at the start was the intense amount of assessment that my child was going to have to sit through going to school, because even at primary they get tested every single day, even on my time sorry, I'm interrupting you I'm from denmark. 

12:55 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm from the exact opposite end of the planet. Can you educate me as to how it works where you are for school? Yeah, because what you're saying it makes no sense. 

13:07 - Jesper conrad (Host)
What is primary? 

13:08 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
School my children because I don't agree with the system, but I think it's a different system that you it's a very different system. So what is? 

13:16 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
assessment every day. What's that? It would just be basic assessment, so they might just do a spelling test once a day, or then they have to read aloud and their fluency and their expression is getting assessed and how they read a book. Nothing that children do the moment they enter school is without assessment purpose okay. 

13:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
So it's not like now we are testing you for the day. 

13:38 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
No, no, the children might not be aware yeah, the children might not be aware so much that they're getting tested. They definitely have big giant testing. They do naplan testing, which is our australian standardized testing. They um can opt in and out of many other tests, but every single day the teachers are looking at your child through an assessment lens. What information can I gather to prove where they're at in mathematics? What information can I gather to see where they're at in mathematics? What information can I gather to see where they're at socially? 

Nothing is done just because they're kids and they're enjoying it. It has to have this incredible end goal, purpose for a report to prove, as a teacher, that you have done your job correctly with these kids. And I just wanted my kids to be kids, you know, just to pick up a book, because they truly wanted to read a book and not have anyone on the other end thinking about their expression and their fluency and how they're reading it, just to be like, wonderful, they're reading a book and no thoughts given except that they're enjoying that time. So for me the assessment was such a huge factor of why I didn't want my kids in school. And then you get this report card at the end of every semester, so half yearly and end of the year, where there's just dots on a page and it just tells you if they're ahead or if they're behind or if they're at level in all these different areas. And that's not only maths and reading and writing. That's testing them in art Can they color properly, can they hold scissors. It's testing them in socialization Can they lead, can they follow, can they make friends? Everything has a dot on a page. 

And I just kept feeling just how degrading to have your whole existence, yeah, reduced to this much on a page and in dots, not even in proper words, and to have you open that up as a child and be like, oh yeah, yep, I'm always behind in maths or yep, I'm always behind in reading, and just just have to sit with that every year in, year out, all all the time getting that. So that was really huge for me. But it's shifted because now I realize that how much connection we gain from homeschooling. So if someone was to come along now and be like you can still spend every day with your child, but we have to assess them I don't even think it would bother me, because now the connection aspect is so much bigger, because I didn't realize what I was going to be giving up, now that I've got it in front of me to be with my kids every single day. 

Um, you know, this is the first time I've been away from them today to come and to come and do this podcast, and now they're at home with my husband and they're they're. They're so fine that I've left, which is wonderful. We got to experience the whole day together, and it's Monday. They would have been at school for six hours already and we wouldn't have got to do all the wonderful things that we got to do together. So that is my biggest reason now as to why a homeschool assessment doesn't even come into it for me anymore, because I've realized what I had gained from choosing this path. 

16:48 - Jesper conrad (Host)
We had our child who decided to not go to school. He was in a Steiner kindergarten, which is Waldorf but based on Rudolf Steiner, and we were part of the board of it. And we hired a new person and this wonderful lady. She said something one day at a meeting with me and I got so overwhelming pissed with her, it provoked the hell out of me. She said but if your kids are here more than four or five hours of the day, then they're actually my kids, then I spend more quality time with them than you do. And I just got so angry, maybe because you spoke the truth. But but now when I see it, it's like okay, so the quality hours of your children's lives, when are they in a day? Of course, mornings are wonderful, evenings and every time can be wonderful. I'm not saying that. But it was so hard for me to realize it that I drove my children away for the best hours of the days to spend with strangers. 

It was really hard. 

17:59 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
Your kids give the best of themselves to school because they're alert, they're ready to go in those hours of the day. It's also expected of them too, so they're giving their very best to a stranger and you miss out on that. And I have a lot of people talk to me about wanting to start homeschooling and like I'm so worried every day with my child, like that's going to be really, really intense. So it's not as tense as you might think. It is because you get all those wonderful moments. But when you send them to school and you pick them up at 3 30 you might only get the post-school meltdown and that does feel intense, but you still get that. 

But then you still get the highs as well as the lows and it balances out, whereas instead of it just being your kids in the morning and it's that before morning school rush and it's shoving them in the car, getting food down their throat, and then it's driving them to extracurricular activities, and then it's finally getting them home and they don't want to do their homework and they don't like the dinner that you cooked and you. There's a lot of negative moments. I suppose, if you want to look through it at that lens, in those times of days that can be experienced with your kids. Whether you homeschool or not, those things can happen, but when you homeschool, you have the opportunity to have the best of your kids as well, and when you school, you give that away for nothing. You just miss out. So it's really yeah, you gain a lot. 

19:24 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
You gain a lot, I think there is one more element to it, though, which is that so we had our three. First, so our oldest child she was in school in an alternative democratic school that she wanted to stay in. Our second child was in kindergarten until he was four, I think, and our third child until she was two. That's when we decided to homeschool. So we've been in both worlds. That's what I'm trying to say, and I think one very important thing that happens, a very important shift when you choose to homeschool, is that you don't give away your children to strangers every morning, that you don't give away your children to strangers every morning, yeah, which means you're not ruining the basic connection, the attachment, which means you don't have to repair it every afternoon. 

Yes, so this after-school meltdown that you said, you know you can have some of these things if you homeschool actually not actually, I'm sorry to say, but if you homeschool Actually. Not Actually, I'm sorry to say, but I think homeschool children are quite nicer, they're easier to be around because they have less problems. I'm not, I love all children. It's not and it's not their fault, but as they are going through this stressful thing every day and they have to go home and repair it and they don't know, and many parents don't know either. So it comes out as this meltdown shouting I don't like the dinner, I want something else. 

All these dynamics, it's all about trying to repair something broken, and maybe you don't really fix it, you just get it sort of halfway sorted and then you do the same thing the next day and then it gets worse. I suppose we did a fairly good job with the democratic school and after the leader said the thing with the five hours, I started picking them up after four not to throw you under the bus, but you insisted that they should stay in the institution after that conversation and I was like, okay, but then I'm picking them yeah, yeah, no, no, you know, I was coming in the morning. 

I was back then, yeah but we did a lot of things and we, we were doing the whole repair thing every day, but still, when we finally stopped, things became so much easier, so fast. 

I have the exact same conversation very often that you just talked about. Like I could homeschool, except I can't handle being around my children all the time. That's what people say and I'm like I can't be around your children all the time, and that's because they're homeschooled, so so take them out, do the repair work, wait, something like pretend it's the summer break, wait, wait seven weeks and then it's all gone and it feels like the most beautiful Sunday. 

22:21 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
And when you finally get into that rhythm with your kids and I suppose I've always been in that rhythm with my kids because they haven't been schooled before, we haven't had to relearn that. But for the families that are contemplating taking their children out of school, there is going to be a period where it feels really messy and it feels really intense because the kids are having to relearn who they are outside of a system. You as a parent are having to relearn who you are outside of school pickups and drop-offs and making lunches and all the things and all of a sudden now you can design your day how you want to design it and the kids don't know what to do because they've always been told exactly where to be and how to be. So there's going to be this real transition period that can feel really messy and really sticky. But if you just sit that out, every day is like a sunday because you get it and your kids start to trust you and you trust them in terms of your energy. 

And if there is a moment of disconnect between you which happens to the best of us, you know that moment of rupture you get the opportunity to repair it immediately. They don't have to wait five hours because the morning was tricky and now you sent them off to school and you forgot to apologize, or if you got to do a moment of connection and then come back and then they've also had 10 things go wrong at school and that's why they're melting down. You get to repair your mistake or whatever went wrong in your household right away, to the point where it just becomes natural conversation so sorry that happened, all right, we're done, we move on. There's not even a moment of dysregulation about it. Sometimes. 

23:58 - Jesper conrad (Host)
So, emily, you're kind of in the start of where we are in the end. So some of these things are maybe fresh scars or memories. What about your siblings, your old community community, your parents-in-law? What about you throwing away your career as a school teacher? How the how did the world around you react? 

24:23 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
how about you asking five questions? 

24:26 - Jesper conrad (Host)
no, no, it's the same question it's the same question, you know so that was really tough. Yeah, because I remember that's why I wanted to go that way school community. 

24:38 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
I am not in contact with anybody that I used to teach with at all, because not only was I walking away from my job, I was accidentally telling them that their job sucked and I that's their perception right, I never did that. I still value all teachers. I think they do a tremendous job and I think they're necessary because school isn't going anywhere. It's it's here, you know, we can choose to do what we want, but it's a system that is it's got a long way to stay. You know, something drastic has to go wrong for it to change a lot. So teachers are valued members of society and we need great teachers. I'd never said a bad thing about them, but my choice simply to homeschool spoke for itself, and as much as I tried to not have that happen, um, it wasn't. It wasn't really accepted that I would do that, because it didn't make sense to them and they couldn't. They could. They were so deeply entrenched in their own school mindset, which was fine, I was there as well. You have to be there if you're going to teach within the system, because otherwise how do you survive teaching within the system? Um, so I don't. I'm not in contact with anyone that I used to teach with my family has been amazing, uh, but they, they always are amazing. I am very lucky to be in a very supportive family environment. So, siblings great. My sister has two kids and she will most likely be sending her kids to school, and that's fine. They're going to do their thing, we're going to do our thing, but we are very, very close. They're very close with their cousins, so it'll be interesting to see how their relationship changes and goes through the phases as they realize that one is really in school and one is not in school. At the moment they're so little they're not really aware of the differences just yet. Um, so I'm curious to see how that will unfold. But nothing but supportive, which is great, um, support from my husband's side as well. In their own way they don't really talk about homeschooling as much, um, but they came to. 

We had a beautiful big homeschool market on last Friday. It was a wonderful. We had over 20 stalls. It was for the kids, by the kids, it was epic and um. My mother and father-in-law came. They even manned my son's little stall for a while so he could go and have a wander around himself, because I was a bit busy with my daughter, who wouldn't let me put her down. So everyone has been rather supportive in their own way, just taking their own time to get to where they need to be and understanding that. I think as well. 

For some people that were not at all on board with homeschooling, the fact I was a teacher oddly put their mind at ease because they were like, oh okay, it's okay, you can homeschool because you're a teacher. You can teach them how to read and write. It will be fine. And if I could pull anything out of my brain, it would be the curriculum. I wish I could just forget that I know anything about these arbitrary age standards that we have and ahead and behind of different subject units. I would love to ignore that, but it gave people a reason to accept what I was doing, because they felt like I knew what I was talking about, as opposed to just being a parent who'd never been a teacher before. But I wish that wasn't the case, because that's not. That's an unfair advantage for me, having been a teacher, cause I honestly believe that anyone can be a homeschool parent. It's just an extension of your parenting, that's all. You just keep doing what you're doing and follow your kids where they're at. 

Um, so it's been hit and miss with the external community, I suppose. But what I will say is that, um, the loss of all my school friends, uh, from when I was teaching it left a lot of beautiful space for me to fill with wonderful, wonderful families. That, um, we have crossed paths with that, uh, we are not all the same, but we have very similar values there. You know, homeschoolers, unschoolers some are part-time homeschoolers whatever it is they're doing, they value the same things that I value and that is deep connection with our kids. And, yeah, having that having that opening. People leave for a reason, right, so other people can come in for a very for a period of time there. It felt very uncomfortable just to sit with. 

28:52 - Jesper conrad (Host)
I can well, what you're saying makes me remember two things. One is, um, I was like, oh man, so many great people we meet and where we are now co-living in denmark is also true people we met through the homeschooling environment in denmark and just lovely, lovely people. And I was thinking about it back then and the conclusion I came to was OK, if you have taken such a dramatic stand and have been thinking so much about children and how they should flourish in life that you decide to take them out of school or never start schooling, then you probably agree on a lot if you have that base in order. The other thing is we started homeschooling as one of the not the first families in Denmark, but we were part of normalizing it. We were very few families in the start 10 years ago. Now it's 12 years ago. Yeah, like oh man, we old, no Dinosaurs, there were absolutely dinosaurs walking the streets and we had walkmans and stuff. 

No, what I would say was the fun thing. Another fun thing that happened with the how people felt about what we did was when we went from homeschooling to world schooling, which was weird, because I remember telling people about OK, we homeschool, we unschool, life is, we're just living life. And then there was like what do they learn and stuff. But then when we said, oh, now we are going full-time traveling and people are like, oh, that's wonderful, I wish I could do that and your kids will learn so much from different cultures and the things they listed up, I was like you learn those in your own culture as well. Of course, there's the cultural differences that make you go down rabbit holes of trying to understand the country. But but but the whole thing about then it was okay with them because it was a dream, something they couldn't obtain, and it was not kind of in their face at the same time. 

31:05 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Um, yeah, I just remember that as being I think what you're trying to say is how do we frame it in a way where it's socially acceptable to homeschool? And you had the advantage of being a school teacher. I'm a psychologist so in some ways our network thought you know, I have the qualifications to be around children, which is a very provocative term. I got really annoyed with it when they said, oh, but qualified, I'm like yes, I gave birth to them, that's my yes. So, and and also, as I had just beat cancer, at the time we had that card we could just pull out the hat like, oh, because I almost died, we need to be together. And then people would shut up because cancer makes them so afraid. And uh, I'm what I'm, I'm just saying. 

So making it socially acceptable can be really hard and sometimes you have to defend your choice a lot and people feel like they have the right to attack you, they have the right to question your decision. I don't question, I don't ask why did you leave your children with complete strangers for 10 years? How does that make any sense? I don't say that, but somehow we fall into the trap as homeschoolers that we feel like we have to defend this choice and I mean, if I should say anything very loudly in this podcast. I would say to all the newer homeschoolers don't do it. 

Yeah, don't defend yourself you have nothing to defend, just don't have that conversation. If you have a cancer card to put out your hat, just use it whatever works. Just get out of that situation. Do not defend your choice. It's your choice and there's no reason for people to attack you so in any way we can avoid it. 

32:54 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
I don't think we should have these conversations with other people defending this choice absolutely it's strange it is any minority group has to speak up and defend their decisions, more so than the masses, but I think it's very vulnerable when you do it as a homeschooler. 

33:12 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm sorry I'm interrupting you, but I think what happens is I see too often that these conversations they really hurt the parents and very often the women are the ones being at home because the dads are out making the money and they're kind of all alone with this. In some countries it's more rare to homeschool, so you don't have 10 friends down the road who also homeschool. Maybe you know someone you can call twice a week or you can take a bus three hours, whatever, so you don't have anyone really to support you. And then you're talking to your sister and your mother-in-law and your best friend and the neighbor and the doctor and everyone, and they're all attacking this. It can be very vulnerable and and some people give up- yes, it's. 

33:52 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
It's really hard. People need to know that they are supported in their decision, whatever it is, and it's their decision to make. As a as a parent raising a child, you have a choice in how you raise them and how you educate them and it's no one else's to question. You don't have to defend it. But that's really, really hard. It's really hard just to stand your ground confidently and silently about what you're doing and just keep going and keep going forward. Um, and I think that's why my my biggest thing I'll tell anyone. 

I get a lot of people messaging me and say we're just, we're thinking about it, we're starting out, what do we do? And I was was like find friends who homeschool, like find community, find people because the moment you connect with just it could just be that one person. You have that conversation and they're on the same wavelength. It just washes off. You right? You just feel like you're not alone in this and you're you're with someone else who wants the same thing for their kids and all of a sudden you're not the weird one who wants to homeschool their kids and spend every day with their children and co-sleep and breastfeed and all the things that create attachment bonds, but they tend to go hand in hand. So all of a sudden, you're, you're found people. So my, my biggest thing I tell people is don't, don't buy a curriculum, don't, don't worry about the reading and the maths just yet. If you want to do that, by all means you have all the time in the world to establish a curriculum that works for your family. 

But the very first thing is building a community. Once you have decided this is what you want to do, build a community, and the way you do that is by going to local meetups. If there are some near you and you go consistently, even though it feels really awkward, because making friends sucks. It's so hard. Sometimes it's really tough and you've got to put yourself out there. And if there aren't meetups near you, then you might have to travel to find them. 

But there's online spaces where you can go to as well, and you might also have to do something extra brave and create a meetup yourself and see who shows up and see who comes, because your meetup could be the meetup that helps someone else as well, and then it becomes this beautiful ripple effect. But community is the number one aspect to making this work, I find, for myself and for anyone I talk to, because the moment you feel like you're not alone in doing this, it's easy. It's easy to do. It's easy to say I'm doing it because I met 10 other families that do it too now. So now it's normal. It's normal in my space to homeschool. 

36:24 - Jesper conrad (Host)
It's very weird to go to school now we had the meetups, was it once every month in our house? I can't remember no, and and the the role, the roles you had was like cecilia and the moms and the children just hung out together and and I took the talk with the dads in the kitchen like, hey, man, chill out, try a year, see what happens. It can never, never go wrong. 

No children will lose out by missing one year of school and then when they heard, I was like relaxed about it and maybe they started, and then you saw them the year after also and the year after that, but it was a lot of ah man for me also the dance I met. 

I mean that helped me a lot when I was on my journey because it is and it's often for us dads. We are in the homeschooling families, we are often the ones going out to work, we are going to work and people. We have to not defend it, but we have to kind of work through going to work, uh, being the, the dad with the wife at home, with all the kids, and it, it, it. Yeah, it was a little wild kind of pressure it is uh. 

And then the really difficult pressure is to not take it out on your wife and and try to take the society's pressure through you towards your wife. I was not the best at that. In the start of our homeschooling I had to learn that everything was all right. 

38:04 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I want to say also I agree with you that community is number one, two, three, four, five and six on the list of most important things to do when you start homeschooling. But I don't agree that it makes it easy. I think it can still be pretty hard. Yeah, you're still in in a context where you yourself have been schooled, most likely, and, uh, you're in a culture where school is just, it's just everywhere, and you could have a sibling or a friend or a doctor or someone poking you all the time and sometimes I call I called it, I think I called it the black days where I would personally have meltdowns and just doubt everything and feel like I ruined my children's future and nothing's working and I ruined my own career. And you know, it was really, really. 

I'm trying to think back because I don't have that now, but they were there. But they were there and they were there even with the great community. We had these, we hosted meetups I think it was every first Friday of the month and we joined things and we didn't have a lot of homeschoolers in Copenhagen at the time, but we had enough. And yet, from the inside of me, maybe provoked by just a little thing conversation with someone or something I heard on the radio. It could be the smallest thing. I could have these breakdowns and I wouldn't say it was easy. I will say without the community it had been impossible. I'm not that strong. I don't think it makes it. 

39:49 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
it makes it possible, right, because you have. You then have someone who understands exactly what you're going through to have that conversation with and you can talk about it. And you know, problem shared is a problem solved, kind of, and you can, you can lighten the load and you can just have someone to bounce it off. 

So it does make it possible there are definitely hard, very hard days, and there's always those doubts that sneak in. And you know my son at the moment he has expressed that he wants to learn how to read. He's just turned seven in May and he wants to read. But every time I try to help him read, he doesn't want me to help him read. So I'm just like navigating this with him and you know there's that occasional doubt that's like okay, how are we going to do this? Because all my strategies are school-based strategies, because that's where I've, that's where I've come from. So it's a constant de-schooling process as well, just to give him the space that he needs to figure it out and know and really trust that he'll come to me when he needs my help with that. 

40:51 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
but it's very nice when I people bounce, set off with my many years of experience, tell you, yeah, you have to change that word when he needs your help to if he needs your help, if he needs my help yeah, he might learn it all by himself. 

41:04 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
I know which is a wild well, learn it all by himself. 

41:09 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, three out of four of my children did it all by themselves. That's crazy, isn't it? And the fourth? I guarantee you, I did not even teach him the alphabet we're still baffled how he did it he did it. I still don't know how he did it clean in his language he can spell everything and he's annoying. 

41:31 - Jesper conrad (Host)
He corrects my english all the time that's not our first language so it's really annoying about the fear about ruining your children. 

When you have the dark days, when I have one of them, sometimes I'm like, yeah, I might have, and but maybe it's just the weight of being a parent that you can be insecure and have anxiety about. Have you done it good enough for your children? Um, and of course you probably never did, but you did your best and I I take some peace and quiet in knowing that they would also have been. Whatever anxiety I have about how can I have ruined my children? It would have been the same or worse. If I have trusted it to another system, then I would not have blamed myself, but the system, which make it easier, because then it could be someone's fault, then the school wasn't good enough, or something. 

Now I am the one to take the responsibility. 

42:32 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That sucks, doesn't it? 

42:33 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
it sucks man to be outsourcing outsourcing is good because if it goes wrong, we just say not my, not my problem. I didn't do that, I had nothing to do with their grade three teacher, it wasn't my fault at all. So it's very easy to uh wipe your hands clean of anything that goes wrong. And yeah, that's why it's so interesting when, if you do have kids who are behind in reading or whatever it is in a mainstream school, well it's okay, people don't care, because the school is obviously doing everything they can in their power to like help these children learn. But if they're behind in homeschooling, whatever that means, if they're not reading when society believes they should be reading, all of a sudden you're completely failing them um as a parent. 

So, yeah, there's no one to blame but you. And then that also involves letting go of what society feels like is the right age and all the standards that come along with that as well. So it's, it's continual, continual work is moving through all the de-schooling, especially if you have been a teacher. 

43:37 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Yeah, emily, I think that is a good point today to to slow out the conversation, and for me it has been a wonderful trip down memory lane to meet someone in the start of it, but you have been on a track for years also. I can hear that you knew that was what you wanted. If people want to learn more about you, what can they do and how are you of service to the world, emily? 

44:11 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
How am I of service Anywhere you want. You can go to my website, which. How am I of service Anywhere you want. You can go to my website, which is emilysonsicom, and on there I offer some homeschooling resources and a de-schooling course and some things there too. If you're local to me in Melbourne Eastern Suburbs, Australia, then I run a weekly meet on a Friday where any homeschoolers are more than welcome to come along and and join in, and then I I post other little homeschooling information and reels and posts on my instagram page as well. 

44:44 - Jesper conrad (Host)
so that's living free homeschoolers perfect, and I know we have listeners in austral. Well, we actually I just saw it recently up to 103 countries people are listening in to. 

44:58 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
How epic. 

44:59 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Yeah, it's kind of wild, but it's a worldwide thing being a parent. 

45:05 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
Funny that, who knew? Who knew it's spreading. 

45:10 - Jesper conrad (Host)
Emily thanks a lot for your time. 

45:12 - Emilly Sonsie (Guest)
It was wonderful chatting with you, thank you, thank you so much. Nice to meet you. 


#73 Deborah MacNamara | Nourished: Connection, Food, and Caring for Our Kids
#75 Reem Raouda | Parenting Peacefully: Reducing Shouting & Encouraging Cooperation


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!

🎙️Our Podcast is Powered by You🎙️ 

We run our podcast on love, passion, coffee and your generosity. Here are some ways you can help!