20 years marked

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘I'm not all that dif­fer­ent from you - I just domy school­work at home, and my teacher is my mum’’ Erica Dekker

Erica Dekker spent the school hol­i­days in her class­room pre­par­ing for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

The 15-year-old home-schooled stu­dent, and teacher, mum Louise Dekker, made a mem­ory board in the school­room that dou­bles as the fam­ily din­ing room.

The mem­ory board is to ac­knowl­edge the 20th an­niver­sary of the Manawatu Home Ed­u­ca­tors an­nual Home and Coun­try Show.

The high­light of the home­schooled year, Saturday’s show­case of tal­ents and abil­i­ties has been held at Ash­hurst’s Vil­lage Valley Cen­tre for the past 18 years.

Judged over 10 cat­e­gories, which in­cludes bak­ing, flo­ral, photography, art, lit­er­a­ture, handcraft, an­i­mals and pets, the fam­ily day also in­cor­po­rates games, ac­tiv­i­ties and a good old­fash­ioned home-school com­mu­nity get-to­gether, while the judges spend two hours eval­u­at­ing the work on dis­play.

The Dekker’s mem­ory board fea­tures pho­to­graphs from the first event held at Awahuri, along with anec­dotes and in­sights from the past two decades.

Louise is the ideal per­son to co- or­di­nate the mem­ory board - she has home ed­u­cated her five chil­dren (Erica is the youngest) and at­tended the first Home and Coun­try Show.

She and hus­band Paul were in­spired to try home school­ing be­cause they liked the way friends had par­ented and schooled their chil­dren, and when el­dest son Aaron, now 27, turned 5, felt he wasn’t ready for school.

‘‘I was a nurse and quite ca­reer-fo­cused, so it was a huge thing,’’ Louise said.

She and Paul saw home school­ing as an in­vest­ment in their fam­ily, and hav­ing spent two decades as a home ed­u­ca­tor, Louise has no re­grets.

Paul said peo­ple have the idea that home school­ing is reclu­sive, but his chil­dren went to dance and mu­sic classes, gym­nas­tics and played soccer, and have fit­ted into jobs and fur­ther study with­out com­pli­ca­tions.

Erica was quick to dis­pel any sense of be­ing stereo­typed.

‘‘Peo­ple who go to nor­mal schools al­ways ask about it. I tell them I’m not all that dif­fer­ent from you - I just do my school­work at home, and my teacher is my mum.’’

Home Ed­u­ca­tion Aware­ness Week runs from Oc­to­ber 17 to 22.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Monique, Erica, Paul and Louise Dekker and the Home and Coun­try Show mem­ory board.

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