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Welcome Home

By Sue Wight

We are standing at a unique moment in history

Globally, an astonishing 1.4 billion children have come home for their education — something unthinkable a few months ago.

While some concerns have been raised that children could “miss a year of education”, in reality kids learn wherever they are and parents are highly adept at facilitating learning.

For millennia, all children learnt from a home base. By living, learning and working alongside their parents, they were inculcated in all the necessary skills to enter adult society.

The industrial revolution and the introduction of compulsory schooling 150 years ago changed all that.  

Some children were still educated at home (by tutors, governesses or parents), but school became the norm.

As time passed, people came to equate education with schooling and forgot home education was a legal option.

While the last 50 years has seen a steady growth in home education, only around 0.5% of the Australian student population was home educated in 2019.

But now — suddenly — learning at home is a necessary normal.

For most families in these Corona-times, it is a matter of bringing school home, for others it is a chance to explore an educational alternative. Regardless of their approach, these families are experiencing one important aspect of home education — families living, working, and learning alongside each other. 

Home educators too are adjusting to isolation. While we miss our busy round of activities, we have an advantage in that we are used to working together, and to all the negotiations and fall outs that happen in a home full of people busily learning and working.

While families thrust into school-at-home by COVID-19 have various reactions, for many the increased exposure and observation of learning will inevitably broaden the realisation of what home educators have long known:

  • education takes many forms;
  • learning doesn’t have to look like school; and
  • kids learn even when you’re not teaching them.

Closer family relationships, a deeper understanding of children, learning and home education could well be unexpected outcomes of COVID-19.

Whether you’re a veteran home educator or you’ve been cast into this role by the Coronavirus, the current situation is new to us all.

In the midst of enormous change, I find it heartening to see the way the home education community is sharing their knowledge and experience with these school families. Our physical distance doesn’t have to mean social isolation. It’s harder for some than others, but we can support each other through this.

Resources for School Families

For HEN members

  • If you’re interested in using Zoom to facilitate groups/activities please complete this survey.
  • HEN is also thinking of other ways to support our community at this time, ideas include online conference sessions (both live and with recordings stored for later download). There is a discussion and poll in our facebook member group or email swight@home-ed.vic.edu.au with your ideas.
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