Interview with German Radio

In Germany it is not allowed to home school. A journalist contacted us, because she wanted to make an interview with us for German State Radio. Here is the result:

https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/homeschooling-in-daenemark-ein-weltall-referat-am.976.de.html?dram:article_id=450366

Here is the radio show in text:

In der Heimschule der Familie Schou in Dänemark steht nicht nur der klassische Lernstoff auf dem Programm. Die Kinder lernen auch beim Gemüseeinkauf, im Garten oder beim Lesen von Manga-Comics. Und wer eine Pause braucht, geht aufs Trampolin.

Photo rights owned by Miriam Arndts.

Es ist 10 Uhr morgens und in der Heimschule der Familie Schou, wie sie sie selbst nennen, ist es ganz still. Die vier Kinder sind vertieft in ihre jeweiligen Tätigkeiten. Weil sie mit dem Lernstoff für dieses Schuljahr fast fertig sind, dürfen die Kinder an diesem Vormittag selbst entscheiden, womit sie sich beschäftigen.

Die 15 Jahre alte Martha zeichnet Fantasiewesen, die 12-jährige Edith bastelt an einer Tasche aus Plastikperlen, die 11-jährige Dagmar liest einen japanischen Comic. Der Jüngste, Hjalmar, schreibt Wörter in eine Reihe. Er ist sechs Jahre alt. Seine Lieblingsbeschäftigung in der Schule sei es, in seinem Arbeitsheft Wörter mit den dazugehörigen Bildern zu verbinden, erzählt er. In welche Klasse er gehe, wisse er nicht.

Mutter Vibeke Schou sitzt auch mit am Tisch, hält sich aber im Hintergrund. Die Entscheidung, die Kinder zu Hause zu unterrichten, trafen sie und ihr Mann, als ihre älteste Tochter eingeschult werden sollte.

Die Begeisterung der Kinder fürs Lernen bewahren
„Mein Mann und ich erinnerten uns an unsere Schulzeit. Und die war nicht immer rosig. Entweder musste man auf die anderen warten und langweilte sich, oder man hinkte so weit hinterher, dass man total verloren war. Ich sah mir 10 bis 20 Schulen in der Umgebung an und suchte nach einer, die ich selbst jeden Tag besuchen wollte. Diese Schule gab es nicht.

Unser Ansatz ist, dass Lernen ein großartiges Geschenk ist und wir wollen die Begeisterung in unseren Kindern bewahren. Viele Kinder freuen sich ja auf ihren ersten Schultag und darauf, etwas zu lernen. Und dann wird diese Begeisterung nach und nach ausgelöscht.“

Frau und mehrere Kinder schauen auf einen Bildschirm. (Miriam Arndts)Ihre Doppelrolle als Mutter und Lehrerin empfindet Vibeke Schou als völlig natürlich. (Miriam Arndts)

Seit zehn Jahren unterrichtet Vibeke Schou ihre Kinder zu Hause, während ihr Mann arbeitet. Abends macht er mit den Kindern manchmal physikalische und elektronische Experimente, während die ausgebildete Schneiderin Nähkurse an der Volkshochschule gibt.

Photo rights owned by Miriam Arndts.

Ihre Doppelrolle als Mutter und Lehrerin empfindet Vibeke Schou als völlig natürlich. „Bei uns ist es ein bisschen so, wie es zu Beginn der Menschheit war: Die Mutter bringt den Kindern das bei, was sie fürs Leben brauchen. Für mich ist Unterrichten und Muttersein ein und dasselbe.“

Bei Familie Schou klingelt keine Pausenglocke
Hjalmar ist inzwischen in den Garten gelaufen, wo er auf einem riesigen Trampolin hüpft. Das macht er, wenn er nicht mehr still sitzen kann, erklärt seine große Schwester Martha. Bei Familie Schou klingelt keine Pausenglocke. Die Kinder nehmen sich ihre Pause, wenn sie sie brauchen.

Die Zweitjüngste, Dagmar, erzählt, dass sie gerne mal ausprobieren wollte, wie es ist, in eine normale Schule zu gehen. Also begleitete sie einen Freund einen Tag lang in die vierte Klasse. Es war sehr laut, sagt sie. Zu Hause könne man die anderen bitten, leise zu sein, wenn man sich konzentrieren müsse. Hier habe man außerdem mehr Zeit, sagt die 11-Jährige. Diesen Eindruck hat sie vermutlich auch, weil nur ein Bruchteil des Heimschul-Alltages klassischer Unterricht mit Stillsitzen ist.

„Bei uns zu Hause ist ja rund um die Uhr Unterricht. Wenn wir im Supermarkt sind, frage ich die Kinder: Welche Möhren sind hier das beste Angebot? Auch wenn wir im Garten sind, lernen wir die ganze Zeit und das ganze Jahr über. Wenn wir einen Regenwurm finden, dann gehen wir rein und lesen was über Regenwürmer. Dann sagen wir nicht: Das machen wir jetzt nicht, weil Sommerferien sind.“

Der Wechsel an die öffentliche Schule steht bevor
Dagmar ist mittlerweile ihrem kleinen Bruder aufs Trampolin gefolgt. Ein Junge und zwei Mädchen tauchen am Gartentor auf. Hjalmar hüpft vor Freude noch höher. Damit ihre Kinder genügend soziale Kontakte haben, lädt Vibeke Schou oft andere Kinder zu sich nach Hause ein.

Diese drei Geschwister werden auch zu Hause unterrichtet. Deswegen ist es völlig normal für sie, sich nach kurzem Spiel im Garten mit an den Tisch zu setzen und Marthas Referat über das Weltall zu lauschen. Es geht unter anderem um den Urknall, der allen hier ein Begriff zu sein scheint, und um den dänischen Astronomen Tycho Brahe. Dagmar und Edith machen sich Notizen und heben den Finger, wenn sie Fragen haben.

Hjalmar hat sich auf den Schoß seiner Mutter gemogelt und hört gespannt zu. Auch er meldet sich: Er glaube nicht, dass Aliens Ufos bauen können, sagt er. Martha ist ganz seiner Meinung. Keiner macht sich über seine Bemerkung lustig.

Martha fängt im August in der zehnten Klasse einer öffentlichen Schule an und möchte im Jahr darauf an ein naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium wechseln. Vielleicht werde sie Schriftstellerin, sagt Martha. Sie habe angefangen, alle Experimente, die sie machen, zu notieren, um daraus lustige Geschichten zu schreiben, von denen andere Kinder etwas lernen können. Vielleicht werde sie aber auch Astronomin.

Building a Home School Community

When we started out home schooling, we had a goal to create a community of home schoolers for our children. We wanted to create an environment, that showed our children that they were not alone. We wanted to show them that it is OK to live your life in different ways. That it actually makes life more interesting.

So we started looking for other home schoolers in Denmark. 10 years ago there were only 200 registered home schooled children and we could only find 3 families on the internet, that replied to us contacting them. So they invited us to a monthly meeting, where they met up at the National Museum in Copenhagen. There was a sunday activity there for children, which we took part in and then we went to the school room where you were allowed to eat your lunch. After we went to the children museum, where the children could play together. After a while the meetings kind of dissolved and we had a few times where we were the only home schoolers showing up. So we thought it was time for a new initiative.

Home school meeting at the National museum 2010.

One of our friends then started doing home school meetings montly at their house. Everybody who was an active home schooler or aspiring to be, was welcome. We took part in those meetings and at one point our friend asked us to do every second of those meetings at our house. So we started sharing the arrangement of those meetings. Our friend then at some point didn’t want to make the meetings at their house and I took over all of them. They grew. Often we would count 45 people at our house and something had to be done to fit in all those people.

Home School meeting at a private home.

As we had been scouts for many years at a nature cabin owned by the state, we had been offered to take a user certificate to the cabin. That meant that we could book the cabin for nature arrangements for home schoolers. So we started having our meetings there. There was a lot of space, things you could do, set up bonfires and make food, go fishing, climb trees. All good ways to build new relationships and help new home schoolers get started.

Having these meetings took a lot of effort and we still have them, but now only around 4 times a year. That works really well. The cabin have space for 80 people. Usually we are around 5-15 families.

Home School meeting at Streyf nature cabin in Copenhagen 2017.

All these initiatives that we have made, has helped our children feel part of a group and that they have a group to relate to. It has also been heart warming to help so many people get started through the years. It is always nice to be able to help other people.

We also were part of a new up and coming free school in Denmark, that friends of ours started. Our kids went there once a week to play with their friends. I arranged all the seasonal events and also did a monthly teaching day at the school in different subjects. At one point the school grew so big that it was not in our interest to continue and we moved all our seasonal arrangement to our own garden and invited all the home schoolers that we knew.

Fastelavn at the Free School 2011.

We have also taken part in a playgroup at a local church for 9 years, where the person in charge was very open to home schoolers and mixed age groups. She took us in and we changed that playgroup from 2-6 year old to 0-15 year old mixing with each other in full harmony.

Bethlehem Church 2015 playgroup.

All of these initiatives that we have made during the years, has helped grow a strong homeschooling network in Denmark. We want to inspire others to do the same. It is a great way to get playmates and create an envirenment where home schooling is the norm.

We still have these meetings, as we probably will be homeschooling for 10 more years. We post the dates on facebook in relevant groups.

Learning from the elders

In a society where the main focus is on the benefits of age segregation, we focus mainly on the benefits of age integration in our home school. Learning to mix with all age groups gives you a greater tolerance and understanding of the different periods of human life. You will learn not to fear death, but accept it as a part of life, just as giving birth to little helpless babies. To see and feel that humans have different needs and abilities during a life span is a great part of learning to be a complete person. To show compassion with elders, who do not react as fast as young people, may have age handicaps, and to see them as wise experienced people that you can learn from.

Last year my mother died and left my dad on his own after more than 50 years of marriage. This has given us an opportunity to take care of him and learn all those exiting skills from him, that he knows.

Luckily, he enjoys telling about his life and about his experiences.

He has taught the children how to draw perspective:

Taught us how to use a scythe:

Let us experiment with a planer in his workshop:

Giving and sharing

Home Schooling is all about giving and sharing. Sharing knowledge with your children. Teaching them that when you give to the universe it comes back to you. The best way to create friendships is through being a giving person. Sharing knowledge is the way to a better world. Creating a community comes through everyone giving what they can and know. Sharing knowledge.

When we started out Home Schooling, I very early decided, that to create our own community, we had to be very active towards arranging meetings, events and play dates. I also wanted to strengthen the children’s feeling of normality by seeking out like-minded people.

So right from the start we went on with arranging meetings at out house, general meetings, meetings with a subject, seasonal events and playdates. All the skills we have, we have shared with other home schoolers. I have had guest students, taught sewing, acting, dancing, biology, natural science, geography and much more to those who have been interested.

We have been so lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people who has done the same for us. We are grateful.

2011 Fastelavn.
2011 we are the Solar system.

A typical day/week in our Home School

People often ask us to tell about a typical home school day. So here we go. The main thing about home schooling, is that there is no such thing, as a typical day/week. You have the freedom to have a new plan everyday. But for us, there is a need to have a plan and the security of repetition.

Many years ago our oldest daughter asked to have a weekly schedule put up on the wall every week, so she would know what our plans were. So every week I make a new schedule and put up Sunday evening. Some things will continue to be on the schedule for a long time and others, are only one of events.

The subjects on the schedule is a mix of adult and child wishes. I have chosen that they do general subjects that keep their learning above public school level, so it would be easy academically to enter a public school, if we no longer are able to home school. But also to prepare them for high school or other later education of their choice. Then the children have chosen to have additional subjects, like Spanish, Latin and Chinese. Subjects and how often we have them can vary on our schedule. We can also have weeks where we do project work intensively.

Well, back to a typical day. Let’s start with today. Today we had a day at home. We try to ballance days out of the house and days at home. We often get to plan too much, especially trips and activities out of the house. That often leaves us exhausted and longing for a day at home to get back our energy and catch up on basic stuff. We also really like to get good food and to have time to eat. As a general rule, we try to stay at home in the daytime every second day.

We usually get up at around 7 am-8 am. Then we all do our chores, do our exercises and positive confirmations. The kids empty the dishwasher, they put away any clean dry laundry, they open the windows and air out the house to start of with a fresh oxygen filled house. In the evening I have put their books ready on the table, so they can start working when they are dressed and have done their personal hygiene. I hang up any wet laundry to dry and put on the washing machine with a new load. Then I do my exercises, while the kids do their individual schoolwork like math, Danish, English and German. I go to and from my exercises to help them when they get stuck and so goes the time until around 9 am-9:30. Then I usually get time to get dressed and get ready. I make breakfast, alone or with a kid who needs a break from school work. Then we sit down together and eat.

The smallest child pealed the bananas for the smoothie and went to the cellar to get frozen fruit from the freezer. He also chose who should have which glass.

We usually then do our common school work. That is the rest of the subjects, mentioned above. Today we did biology, Latin and biology project.

Biology is a common subject in our home school. On the picture we are using the book from Pirana and Politikens book Menneskekroppen. Today we were examining the function of the human organs.

For Latin we are currently using https://www.clc.cambridgescp.com/sites/www.cambridgescpcom/files/legacy_root_files/clc/webbooks/book1/index.html?p=1

I prepared bread in the kitchen while they worked on the Latin exercises, and then corrected them together with them.

Then the children worked on a movie for their youtube channel, while I prepared lunch together with the smallest child in the kitchen.

Test shot for biology movie.
Getting lunch ready.

Then we watched their work on the computer while eating, and decided on redoing it after eating. So we shot another section of the movie, until we were happy with the result.

Then the youngest child and I made a beetroot chocolate cake in the kitchen, while the oldest child edited the movie together and worked on her musical as well. The two middle children sewed on their costumes for a dance show they are planning.

Then we were expecting two good friends to come over for a sleepover, but unfortunately they had gotten the flu, so we had to eat the cake on our own. Don’t worry friends, if you read this, we will make a new one for you.

Gluten free beetroot cake.
Hot oat milk with cocoa powder and gluten free beetroot cake.

The at 3 pm we have quiet time until 4 pm. At that time you can do what you want to do – play on the computer, watch movies, talk to your friends on the phone, read, play outside or go where your imagination takes you. I meditate and drink tea.

Our oldest daughter did this lego project in quiet time. A Find Wally house.

Today we have a quiet evening. No spare time activities or work. We all enjoy having our meals together and being able to talk and relax in the evening with a movie or game together. The kids often work on creative projects in the evening, writing, sewing, knitting or drawing. They often also just play and make lots of noise and play music and dance.

We have a huge pile of second hand stuff for the kids to use in the living room and it brings about a lot of creativity.

So how does a typical week look?

A general example of our weekly schedule could look like this:

Weekly schedule february 2019.

The subjects at the bottom has stayed the same for a while, because it work well. We have a language a day, as the kids like languages. We have math and danish three days a week, because they got fed up with having it every day. We finish our books already in april every year anyway, so we manage to do enough work anyway, to be ahead of general curriculum. My work is on the schedule, so the kids know when I am not at home in the evening or daytime. The childrens newspaper route is also on the schedule, so we are able to make everything work out with the time we have available. Creative subjects are not on the schedule, as they are present in most things we do, and they infiltrate most other subjects. Project on thursday and friday is a new thing we are trying after the kids started a knowledge based youtube channel called : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ECOh462jxQraolPZ53evw

At the middle of the schedule you see events that vary from week to week, like playdates, trips, hobbies, meetings and so on. The kids attend different sparetime activities outside the house like physics and chemistry, drama and ballet. They figure on the schedule on and off, when they have their seasons.

The weekend is also included, as we often go on educational trips together as a family in the weekend or visit friends and family.

Next week will be the winter holiday. Originally, when starting out home schooling, we did not separate school and spare time, but we have found that we have a need to do this. So we now have the same holidays as schools. The difference is just that we do not do the usual subjects, but mostly do trips and project work. This winter holiday we will work intensively on costumes, painting the barrel and go pick branches for our fastelavn celebrations. We are so looking forward!

We teach positive thinking

Louise Hay has been a huge inspiration in my life. Her book “Heal your life” has helped and still helps me with dealing with past, present and future. I try to give this on to the children. We have gotten so far, with positive thinking, that the children will remind me about it, when I loose focus. They try to help me, and I try to help them to get a great magnificent life that they deserve.

Positive thinking is to us like physical exercise. You have to work hard and regularly at it, to keep the mind thinking positive. The mind really wan’t to go back to negative thoughts.

This exercise is to me much like commercial advertisements. If you keep sending your mind positive thoughts, they will reprogramme your mind. Slowly it will start changing your thought patterns.

Our favorite positive affirmations are these:

  1. All is well in my world.
  2. I love myself and I am lovable.
  3. I am safe and at peace.
  4. I enjoy the foods that are best for my body.
  5. I have plenty of time for all the things I have to do today.
  6. There is always more to learn.

Another great soul to listen to, is Ester Hicks for support to achieve your goals in life.

Homeschoolers we love on youtube

When we first started out home schooling our kids, on 1st of April 2009 (it was not an aprils fools joke, but for some strange reason, we started out on this date) there wasn’t many other home schoolers around in Denmark. So we searched the net for like-minded people, and found a few great inspirational people. This guys videos, we have often used if we needed a kick of energy and to be cheered up in all the criticism from the people around us, in our choice of how to bring up our children. I’ve chosen to show this video, as it is one of his first on youtube, but there are loads more about home schooling to find. Just make a cup of tea and enjoy!


This guy is really fun too. He has got a few more videos too, about homeschool if you search youtube.

This one is also great to show the ignorance displayed, when you try to explain learning.

Go watch and enjoy!

We love the Library

Vanløse library.

We love going to the library. We go to the library at least once a week. We visit different libraries. Have favorite ones. Our oldest daughter even has asked to have her birthday in one particular library a few times, which is her favorite. A library is a place with peace, where time stands still and you can indulge in all the knowledge available. Danish libraries often are just so much more than books, so if a child is more into playing with toys or at the playground, the libraries we go to even have those options. So everyone is happy. You can sit and read a book aloud for a child. Examine a subject together. Sit and write a story on your computer. Go listen to music. Often they also have plays, lectures and much more. Sometimes we meet up with friends in libraries and rest and talk together. We really love libraries.

Gladsaxe library.
AU Library, Emdrup.

Visit to the Ba Hai centre today 2018-11-30

We are doing a series of Religious visits and experiences at the moment. Most religions are very friendly, and invites us into their community, to tell about their beliefs. Today we were invited to visit the Ba Hai community in Hellerup, Denmark.

Ba Hai is a new religion and springs from the Muslim belief, but instead of believing that Mohammed is the prophet, they believe that there has been a new prophet 200 years ago called Bahá’u’lláh.

They believe that all the religions of the world actually is one religion and have one common god.

During our visit we were allowed to take part in a ceremony. Then we had a guided tour, where we talked about their beliefs and values. Then we had lunch together. In the end the children was given different texts, which they read together and then talked about.

Ba Hai has a large community in India and in Africa (Congo particularly). They have 4 large religious monuments in the world.