MOST south-west students will start the school term at home this week but some families have made their houses into classrooms for years.
Woodford residents Peter and Elizabeth Lim have so far homeschooled 10 of their 11 children, who age from eight months to 22 years old.
As the coronavirus pandemic forces most Victorian school students into home learning for the first time, the Lims have continued to educate their children in a way they've always chosen.
"We focus our education on the things they want to do," Mr Lim said.
Although mainstream schools now delivering curricula online don't expect parents to deliver classes, the seasoned home educators say learning during the pandemic has created an opportunity for family relationships to grow stronger.
"If you see this time as a time to build those relationships, the education of the children just happens naturally," Mr Lim said.
"The ones who will find this a challenge are where you have some strong-willed personalities, they don't want to go to school when you want them too. The challenge is getting cooperation."
Mr Lim said for his family there was an underpinning feeling that "life is a classroom and we journey in life together".
Life is a classroom and we journey in life together- Peter Lim
"That's pretty important, it's not that we are teachers, it is that we facilitate the learning," he said.
"Overall having open communication and mutual respect from a parent's point of view towards their children I think is really important."
The Lim family lives on a hobby farm where they grow their own vegetables, milk a cow for their dairy and have other livestock including pigs and chickens.
Mr Lim, educated at a Melbourne school, has spent the past 23 years working as an osteopath in the south-west, now from his Woodford home.
He teaches his children secondary school level lessons, while Elizabeth teaches reading, writing and basic maths to the primary school-aged children.
"We tend to teach our children to read when they are ready. We are very relaxed about that. We know some people who didn't read until they were 12 and ended up becoming vets," Mr Lim said.
"Being seasoned homeschoolers we don't tend to follow the school years very strictly.
"We definitely do have a schedule. We use online tools and there are some schedules online because we don't have 11 computers."
Critics argue that homeschooled children are denied some social interaction that schools offer. Mr Lim said that was not the case in a family of 13, but online relationships with other families and teachers had played a role.
"There is nothing like a family to develop your conflict resolution skills," Mr Lim said.
"We have utilised online platforms to connect with music teachers, and there are networks of homeschoolers, and my children have connection with those and they connect on the online platforms."
He said his eldest children had chosen to go on to tertiary education and found their own career paths.
"I have two children who have completed their studies, one finished a music degree and is teaching music in Melbourne," Mr Lim said.
Another finished an accounting degree and is working for an accounting firm.
"It doesn't matter what they end up doing, it's more their character and relational ability," he said.
Despite the family's quest for self-sufficiency, Mr Lim said that like everyone his household too felt the consequences of stay-at-home restrictions.
"We are going to really miss not going to play soccer and can't be involved with our local church, all of those things impact the relationships the children have outside of the family," he said.
Asked why he chose to homeschool his children, Mr Lim said it gave them more freedom.
"For us it's never been about trying to duplicate what school is at home," he said.
"You have to be half crazy, most people have to be forced to do it rather than take it up.
"And when you do, you have to have that sense of 'we are on an adventure'."
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