So, you haven’t yet taken the home ed plunge. It would be nice to have a guarantee, right?
The thing is life doesn’t come with guarantees.
It would be really nice to be able to examine a home education prospectus and see pretty graphs and tables detailing the success rate but that isn’t possible. The best you can do is observe home educating families (either by attending an activity/group or arranging to visit individual families) and asking them lots of questions. Most will be very happy to help you. Keep in mind that home education is a very individual thing – if there is something about their home education that you don’t like, you don’t have to replicate it in your own. They are educating their children, not yours, who are different kids with different needs. Supplement these visits and conversations with lots of reading and thinking about education.
One thing to keep in mind is that home education is not an irreversible decision. If it doesn’t work out for your family, the kids can always get back into school. It is a little known fact that there are kids going in and out of school at every level. No one shows up at a public school and is refused a place. If you are considering pulling your children out of a private school where competition for places is fierce, only you can weigh up the risk of not being able to get back in against what you hope to gain from home education. As for the kids, on returning to school, most adjust to the routine and academic demands with little trouble. Sure, they may have ‘missed out’ on some work but will have compensated with other experiences.
Another thing to be aware of is that home education doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ experience. Partial enrolment is a legal option in some states (see the partial enrolment tab on our Legalities page) and there are many home educators who negotiate such arrangements. The attitude of individual staff varies though. In all instances care should be taken to honour your side of the arrangement and to communicate well with the school about any changes to your children’s enrolment and attendance.
Families often hesitate on the socialisation issue, worrying about whether their children will have friends if they no longer attend school. The truth is kids socialise wherever they are. The reason why so much socialising happens at school is because kids just happen to be there. If they happen to be elsewhere, then they socialise elsewhere. There are many home ed groups you can tap into to provide social opportunities for your children. They can also maintain friendships from school and continue to socialise at after school and sporting groups as well as enjoying the rich social opportunities your own family offers. Home educating families go out of their way to ensure their children do have plenty of opportunities to form friendships, and camps and activities abound to fill that need. Many come to regard socialisation as a huge benefit of home education.
Another concern that can hold people back is that they might not be able to ‘cover everything’. Stop and think for a moment – who says the people who set the curriculum actually got it right? There never has been and never will be one agreed body of knowledge that all people must know by adulthood. Sure, you’ll miss something – schools miss something all the time and that’s before you even think about how much of what schools teach, is actually learnt or retained by kids. There are plenty of resources to help you – the internet, your local library, your own shelves, community groups and so on. See the resources section for some starting points.
So, what about that guarantee? Sorry, there isn’t one. The most expensive private school in Australia can’t offer you a guarantee either. Sure, if you send your kids there, they’ll have a good chance of making some useful contacts, but the school cannot guarantee that your child will actually learn, that they’ll be safe or even that they’ll come out as likeable people. There are so many variables involved.
Life is inherently a risky business, a continual labyrinth of choices where one wishes there was a map. It would be so easy to do the right thing if only one knew which road to take each time.
Life is like that, but many of those paths interconnect. We may stumble around for a while but standing still in the labyrinth doesn’t get us anywhere. Trying a path is better than standing still even if the most we gain from it is to eliminate another path.
From Otherways 130Last updated on