Have you ever wondered about Home Schooling? My husband and I thought for quite a while that we would home school our kids. I have been so inspired by people around me that homeschool, and homeschool really well. I love so much about home schooling. While we ended up taking a different route and are enjoying being part of our local school, I will always have homeschooling on the table as an option should it feel right for our family in the future.
Prior to meeting people that were homeschooling, I had so many misconceptions about what it would look like, be like. So I have invited a friend of mine to answer some commonly asked questions about Homeschooling.
She has also provided some helpful links to get more information, including local groups in the Blue Mountains. So if you are at all curious about what home schooling could look like for your family, you can tap into some more resources on the subject.
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Shopping with children can be challenging at the best of times. However, shopping in the middle of the day with five seemingly healthy robust school aged children, can appear almost criminal. Over the 16 years of Home schooling my children, I’ve often been asked why they aren’t at school. However, for home schooled or home educated children, the classroom of life’s experiences are all part of the learning journey.
The myriad of questions that are asked about home schooling are usually very similar.
Is Home schooling legal? Are you a teacher?
In Australia, Home Education is legal. The only qualifications are that the educator is literate with an average level of education and is the parent or guardian of the child they intend to homeschool. Each state has its own procedure for Home Schooling registration. In NSW the parent or guardian applies to NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) for Home School approval. NESA is the governing body that sets out curriculum and learning outcomes for all schools and home schooling families in NSW. The legal ages for Home Education in NSW are 6 to 17 years. The NESA website informs the parent of this process and what is required. Each child needs an individual educational program that follows the six key learning areas and outcomes set out by NESA. This may seem an overwhelming task. However, there are many websites, blogs and Facebook groups that are very helpful and can assist in the process. Once registered for Home Schooling a child can re-enter the school system if they decide they no longer wish to home educate.
Do you have a classroom? Do you start at 9am and finish at 3pm?
Home schooling is not the best word to describe what is really home education or learning at home. Learning at home is individual and unique to each family and usually looks quite different to the school classroom. Just as no two families are alike in the way they parent and raise their children, no two families are the same in the way they home educate. The structure of the day and the way learning is presented will depend on the parent’s individual teaching style. Some families may be more structured and routine, whilst others use a natural and spontaneous learning approach. Hours are flexible and don’t need to follow a 9am to 3pm time schedule. Most Home schooling days can be completed in a few hours, leaving time for individual projects such as sports, art and craft, music, social activities and free play.
Do they socialise with other children?
Many people seem concerned that a child who doesn’t attend school won’t have the same social skills and exposure as other children. However, there are many groups that organise social activities for Home School families. For families in the Blue Mountains, The Blue Mountains Home Education Network, a closed Facebook group is a good place to begin. Children can be regularly involved in learning groups, sports groups and excursions. Excursions can be quite exciting and are organised regularly by various groups. Excursions to places such as Wet and Wild, the Zoo, Museums, fun and exciting parks, and the beach are just a few examples. Many individual home school families organise play times for their children or may go on excursions to special places or even camp and holiday together.
Where do you get your learning program or curriculum?
Parents may choose to enrol their children in a distant education program or purchase a packaged educational program. Parents can also design and purchase their own teaching materials. Textbooks and teaching resources are available online and at many bookshops or department stores. Online educational apps are also very useful.
Are children in the same grades as school?
School places children in grades in order to manage the classroom situation. However, when home educated children can learn at the stage that suits their individual needs. Children may be advanced in one subject and need time to develop in another. Children may not necessarily be in the grade they would be in if they attended school. For example a child who would be in 4thclass at school could be in a grade 3 for English and a grade 5 for Mathematics. Educational programs can be structured to suit each child’s learning ability, without been restricted by grades and stages.
My Home schooling experience has allowed my children and I many special and wonderful times together. It is a journey that can be challenging and exhausting at times. However, travelling through life together on a learning adventure is both wonderful and rewarding, and one that I can fully recommend.
Some Recommended Resources to look at if you are keen to explore more are:
Blue Mountains Home Education Network
NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)
Aussie Homeschool Facebook
Sydney Home Education Network
Home Education Network
Home School Down under