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No School Today

Published : August 10, 2015

Home schooling is a concept that many of us have wondered about. To obtain an inside look, a Flourish contributor has decided to share her story with us, about the benefits and joys that home schooling has given her and her children.

by a Regular Flourish Contributor


Since the introduction of compulsory education in 1871, home schooling has been a legal option in Western Australia.  Since that time, a steady percentage of parents have maintained their right to educate their offspring and have shunned the government’s regulation of children’s education.  Today, increasing numbers of parents from all walks of life are taking up the challenge of home-based learning.  As many people become increasingly disenchanted with the education system, and as they have increasing access to a world-wide body of knowledge, the negative aspects of school, for some people, begin to outweigh the good.


The amount of computer-based products, the free and paid online courses; the community-based network and forums all make it quite an interesting choice for learning.  Nowadays information is easy, accessible and people are savvy with it; they are more than comfortable educating their children.  It’s not hard to do, and it can be vastly more focussed, accelerated and relevant than a government run institution.


Parents have always instructed their children, not just in reading, writing and arithmetic, but also in the finer aspects of living: emotional strength, morality and world perception.  They also share with them information about their businesses and trades.  Since the introduction of compulsory schooling, this has become less common.  However some people have remained adamant that parents should retain the right to make decisions about their children, and they question the government’s self-appointed right to intervene in this way.  It is now far less common to educate your children, however many people see an inherent value in it and continue to teach their children at home.


In Australia, parents apply to educate their children and are recognised as a school.  The Education Department appoints a moderator to visit the home at least once a year to determine if the ‘home’ school is correctly following the curriculum.  In 1997, new legislation was passed which framed the curriculum into eight learning areas: the Arts, English, Health and Physical Education, Language, Maths, Science, Society and Environment, Technology and Enterprise.  Home-schools must adhere to these guidelines.


The legislation views education as ‘outcomes-based’ and acknowledges the creative and holistic nature of learning, and wanted there to be a variety of ways in which to attain information in these areas.  Primarily, the legislation understood that many of these areas can be intertwined to make learning full and relevant.


Home-based educators also believe in the creative and holistic nature of learning.  They perceive that life and learning go hand-in-hand, and that much more can be achieved if learning areas are not separated and divided.  Not only can children fully grasp concepts in the real world, they have a much greater chance of the information staying ready in their memory.  This is backed by an extensive and burgeoning body of new brain-based technology and accelerated learning.


Individually, children can have a program tailored to suit their needs and development.  They do not need to be held back by the class, or can have more time to grasp something that is elusive to them.  Because they are not in such a structured, often noisy environment, home-schooled kids can use their imagination and discover what is truly fascinating to them.


Home-schooling is a very personal choice.  It is regarded by many as a foolish, perhaps detrimental decision, yet many people do it successfully and there are many advantages to the decision.  Far from it having to be a situation whereby your children are hawked over by an overbearing and stifling mother, children can have a greater range to their sense of self because they are not confined to a regimented school day.  In a week there are a lot of places to go, and a lot of people to see.


In Australia, there are many different organisations that run programs for kids from primary school through to TEE level.  There are park get-togethers, visits to zoos, post offices, museums and theatres.  There are dance classes, poetry classes, surfing, and science lessons.  The children mix with a huge variety of people from all walks of life.  They learn a wide variety of things in a wide and relevant context and they have the potential for all sorts play-dates with similar aged children.  They join scouts, guides, choirs and organised sports.  They attend classes with other kids.  Home-schooling is not all about being in the home, it is about not being at school.


The greatest benefit of home-schooling is time.  If you are not waiting around for thirty other kids, it doesn’t take long to get your work done.  If you are having trouble, there is someone who really cares, and has the time to care to help you.  If you want to spend six weeks fully investigating the lifespan of the Tahitian turtle you can, in fact you might want to take six months.  Your kids get to fully indulge their passion for learning.  Many, many home schooled children go on to do all sorts of university degrees.  Many of them end up making a lot of money, essentially because no-one told them they couldn’t.


Home-schooling allows kids to develop their imaginations, they have time to develop play situations, finish writing their poems and stories without rushing on to the next thing.  They are more active, they are not sitting still, passively attentive for hours and hours of the week.  Learning, we are finding increasingly, is kinaesthetic.  It is important to move to learn.


The social pressure to conform: ‘boys don’t dance’; ‘boys don’t sing’ and ‘boys don’t feel’, doesn’t have to apply in the home, so there is a greater chance for the full range of your child to be expressed.  This makes kids happy.  In the same vein, girls can be girls for longer.  They have interactions that they can learn from at their own pace, and they get to sleep more (teenagers in particular require much more sleep and relaxation for brain development then they get by being at school at 8.45am).


Home-schoolers still have full and learned days, and are not always with their mother.  These kids are offloaded, shared, discussed, left to their own devices.  They are expected to grow up, be responsible and take charge of their choices.  For all the ‘emotional intelligence’ training they try to do in school, here it works really well because the emotional learning is relevant.  It can be situation specific; you deal with things at the time.  These kids are like any other kids; they are ignored, yelled at, they watch TV and play Playstation.  They can’t stand their parents some days and are argumentative, inattentive and grumpy.  They have fights and disagreements with other kids and have to find ways to resolve them.  Home-schoolers are not special; they are not better, (or worse), or more clever.  They are just kids who don’t go to school.


There are disadvantages.  It can be socially isolating because people disapprove of your decision.  Some days it is hard work, and there is no one to blame.  Some days can be boring and unstimulating.  Financially it can be a strain, and it is sometimes uncomfortable living outside of what is now the square.  To some degree, it is a challenge to be a kid who doesn’t go to school.


As with any choice you have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. There are advantages to school: there are peers, access to technology, information, ideas, and new faces.  There are also many well-documented disadvantages, ranging from bullying, to large classes, to a dearth of literate school-leavers.  With home-schooling, similarly there are both positives and negatives.  What home-learning and the education system have in common is a desire to stimulate the minds of our children, and for many people this is better achieved within the individual context of the family and the home.




Flourish note: Since writing this article, the Flourish contributor has both her children back in school.  “My son is a sports crazy kid and really needs the constant daily experience with a group of children.  He chose to go back, to a new school, and he is really thriving.  My daughter has been at home with me, but educating one child at home, to me, is a psychological vacuum and not particularly healthy for mother or daughter.  Letting them find their place in the world is my ultimate goal.  Some people are quite dogmatic about school or home-schooling, I like individual needs,” explains our Flourish contributor, who just wants the best for her children.

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