Over the past few decades home education has become an accepted and valid educational choice for many families and the number of children being educated at home has increased steadily. Home education is not to be confused with Distance Education where the government delivers education via the internet or correspondence. Families who choose to home educate assume full responsibility for their child’s education, using their own home as a base.
The image of a stay at home mum educating a large family does not reflect reality. Dads home educate, as do single parents and grandparents, and parents come from a wide variety of social and educational backgrounds. Some parents each work part-time and share the care of the children, while others work from home. Families may have children at home and at school, or choose partial enrollment. You have 365 days a year to home educate. Subject to your state’s legal requirements, you can spread your education throughout the year and are not confined to school hours, school days or school terms. Home education can fit around your life.
We are a very diverse group but the one thing we have in common is that we have all decided that our children will be better off educated outside the traditional school system. Reasons for this decision are also many and varied, from those who decide before their children are born, to those who would never have considered the option if their children had not experienced insurmountable problems in school.
Another incorrect stereotype has children sitting at a desk for six hours a day. In fact home education routinely incorporate excursions, groups, and other activities which take place outside of the home, and it is not unusual for people other than parents (such as other family members, friends, people in the wider community) to play a role in the education process.
Children learn at home through reading, conversation, play, outside classes, the internet, TV, volunteer work and everyday experiences in the community. Typically, children will have some time during their day to explore/work/play on their own, some time with their parents, and some time in community activities such as Scouts, organised sport, art class, home education groups, or excursions. Each family structures its own schedule as children grow and needs change. Many home educators undertake an eclectic mix of methods. They might choose to do daily lessons in maths and reading with afternoons spent exploring the wonders of life through books and walks in the park. Whatever approach is taken, children invariably learn.
So now you need to work out how home education will work for your family. Just as there is no one true way to parent children, there is no one right way to home educate either – different approaches suit the circumstances and dynamics of different families. You can adjust your approach, resources and philosophy as you go along, and most of us do so.
Home education is not all smooth sailing, and has its share of frustrations and difficulties. In fact one of the main attractions of home education is that parents are able to work out, with their children, the kind of learning that suits them best. A decision to home educate should be an informed one, so please follow the links below to find out more.
We are not promising you a bed of roses! Home education will neither solve all your problems nor mean you never have to worry about your children again. You will have bad days. That’s normal. Even if you weren’t home educating you’d have bad days too – just different bad days. Recognise that not much is accomplished some days and don’t force things. However, if your problems go beyond occasional bad days, reach out to HEN and the wider community for support..
Connecting with other home educators is important. There are groups and activities in many areas, so try a few to work out which are best suited to your family. Join HEN to be in the ‘home education loop’. This will give you access to a thriving home education community through regular activities, events, camps and excursions as well as our online network. Receive Otherways magazine quarterly, weekly email news, discounts on various educational programmes, access to competitions with HEN as your ‘school’ and access pathways advice for older students.
At HEN, in the course of helping people with their home education questions, we hear similar concerns raised quite often. We have put together a page of the mostly commonly voiced concerns with our advice to help you feel confident with your choices. Answering common concerns.
HEN is here to support you through this transition with advice and information. If you are feeling unsure, overwhelmed or fearful, read our Letter – Dear New Home Educator . If you don’t find what you need here on our website, or you still have questions, contact us via phone, email or Facebook.