A very warm welcome to the world of home education! Here is our letter to you.
Where do I start? How do I do this? What if I’m not doing enough? How will I know where my kids are at? Help!
There are so many questions when you are new to, or considering, home education. Rest assured that many before you have had the same questions and concerns, and HEN has helped guide people through the process. We address some of the more common questions and concerns on our Home Ed Questions page.
The preschool years
In Victoria, we don’t need to register children for home education until they turn six. This means there is no requirement to register your child for ‘homeschool kindergarden’.
At this age play based learning and spending time with your little one, such as going for walks or reading picture books together, is all you really need to do, and not focus so much on ‘doing school’. Remember that home education is an extension of parenting and what you have been doing for your child their whole lives is exactly what home education is about: helping them learn new skills, supporting them in new pursuits. and spending time together.
You can read some more on home education in the preschool/kindergarden years here.
The primary school years
Home educating in the primary years is a time full of exploration and discovery, and you’ll be right alongside enjoying those special ‘a-ha!’ moments. Your child may begin to read more independently, but still love a good-read aloud snuggled up together. Or they may become more interested in things like cooking and helping to prepare a meal, or helping with the shopping which is always a great maths activity.
If your child struggles in some areas, whether it be with maths or anxiety, or if they have asynchronous abilities, home education during the primary years will place your child’s education and development front and centre. You’ll be able to spend as much time as needed on a particular area of challenge, with no need to rush through a school curriculum, nor create the risk of your child ‘falling behind’ as they might at school. You’ll be able to work at your child’s pace and address any issues that you feel need a closer look.
For more information, take a look at our primary school years page.
The secondary school years
Home educating a teenager need not be a scary prospect. Rest assured, many people before you have walked this path with great success. Home educating teens is where the beauty of home education can really shine– flexibility, freedom, and self directed learning.
There are many reasons why parents choose to home educate for the teenage years, and withdrawing children from school in senior high school is not uncommon. For some families, their primary motivation may be to foster positive family relationships while for others, embarking on tertiary pathways well before school peers is their main consideration.
For more information, take a look at our Home Educating Teenagers page.
Supporting kids with disability, health and diverse learning needs
HEN is often asked if there are many families home educating due to disability, health and medical conditions and diverse learning needs. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact these are some of the more common reasons parents choose home education.
We are frequently contacted by parents of children who are in a poor state of mental health due to school bullying, as well as hearing from parents who have battled for years to have their child’s school provide adequate support. We support these families by giving them the information they need in order to leave the school system and move to home education, and the home education community itself can be a great support as parents are always willing to share their experience and advice.
To read more, please see our page Home Education and Disability, Health and Diverse Learning Needs.
Home education styles
Natural learning, unschooling, eclectic, structured, Charlotte Mason… you may have seen reference to these home ed styles, and more, and you might be wondering what they all mean and how they can work for your family.
As home education has grown in popularity, many different styles have evolved. No home educating family is required to adhere to any particular style. Each family decides and defines what learning looks like for each of their children, and that can change as needs and circumstances change. Some people are attracted strongly to one particular style, but might still incorporate ideas from others. Many families take a little from multiple styles. You don’t have to have a label at all – you can just home educate your own way.
See our pages on Home Education Styles.
Choosing which resources to use can be overwhelming. So much is available and if you’re new to home education, you probably want to choose something that is recommended by other home educators. While recommendations can be helpful, it can also set up a potential trap: home ed should be done YOUR way, using resources and approaches that suit your children.
For this reason, we encourage you to begin with making a list for each child: what do they like to learn about? How do they learn? How long can they focus? What causes resistance? From there, you can take a look at free or low cost resources, trial them for a month or two and see how your children go. The great thing about home education is that we have freedom and flexibility in how we do things and the resources we use. Resources advertised as ‘adheres to state/national curriculum’ are not necessarily better than the free or cheap resources available from an overseas provider.