Our son is neuro-divergent … he is high-IQ. Not twice-exceptional, just high-IQ. And whilst many might ask, ‘So what?’, those parents sharing a space with those kiddo’s living their lives to the right side of the bell-curve will undoubtedly be able to provide an answer… or two! Too many years of mainstream schooling saw us trying to advocate and fill the obvious and ever-widening gaps— between what our son was capable of, what he was craving, and what he was being presented with. Any parent dealing with the fall-out of unmet educational needs will know the importance of addressing them. We sourced and supplemented our son’s education with rich educational opportunities, before finally moving to full-time home education. And, whilst families like us are often referred to as ‘accidental’ home educators, there was nothing accidental or sudden about the decision we made. It was an entirely purposeful one, and a gradual one, which saw us transition our son through a mainstream education to a supplemented one and finally to home. So, I think a new label is sorely needed, and one that is entirely more apt … the ‘incremental’ home educator!
Irrespective of how we arrived here, the outcome has empowered us, and our son. He is finally able to access the educational opportunities and challenges he craved; without us having to advocate and without him having to find the time in an already crowded school curriculum. Along the way, our son’s home education has developed into what is now a rigorous mix of online courses, accessed through the US. He will ultimately graduate with a US High School Diploma, ensuring a pathway to both domestic and international universities.
So, here I sit, in my parent’s home in Perth, having just dropped off my son to one of his AP exams. Today it’s AP Psychology. He has three more to sit over the next two weeks. For those unfamiliar with the term ‘AP’, it stands for Advanced Placement. It offers students in the US, and worldwide, the opportunity to follow college level curricula and/or examinations. The first AP exam our son sat was US History back in 2021. Then, it was an online exam taken in our Melbourne home, due to the pandemic. The difference of time zones meant a 3am start complete with some connectivity issues. But he persevered and put in a grand showing! And, in the midst of a global pandemic, the fact that his education was already predominantly online ensured that he experienced none of the turmoil and interruptions that many students in mainstream settings faced.
This time around it’s an entirely different setting for him, in a Perth classroom alongside other students sitting the same exam – including one from the Gold Coast and one from New Zealand. A different set of nerves, but still coupled with the absolute certainty that the educational path we have chosen for him is what’s best. It has also provided the added bonus of being able to catch up with his grandparents for the first time in over two years, not to mention enjoying the weather that Perth so often puts on.
Those who value schools as the way to educate their children may well see our approach (with its flexible working hours) as too ‘free range’, whilst those in the home educating community may well see our approach (with its emphasis on traditional academics) as too ‘schooly’. We clearly sit somewhere in the middle, belonging to neither camp. But, whatever anyone else’s views, we know that it works for our son … and it works for our family!
That is the absolute joy of home education. As parents we get to choose, subject to jurisdictional requirements and personal resources, just how our children are educated. In recognising each of our different stories and different journeys, I would never think to claim that ‘this is THE way to home educate’, but rather that ‘this is the way WE home educate’… and it’s working just fine for us!
Otherways 172 (May 2022)Last updated on