We've been interested in Home Schooling for our 5yo son Kai but have been put off by the fact that we couldn't find any support networks locally. Every parent that I've spoken to who has expressed interest in home schooling have raised the same issues.
We don't feel ready to take on full time home schooling, but don't like the idea of sending Kai off to school five days a week (he doesn't either). We are stay at home parents and are flexible and willing to help our kids learn from home. We are not interested in creating school at home, I think that they would be better off at school if we were trying to do that - rather I see this as helping our kids learn life skills according to their needs.
A friend of ours was taking one of her children to a nearby small country school part-time last year, and was telling us how the principal was open to this. Her child went full-time at the school this year, it was right for him. On hearing this we have explored further and discovered that having a curriculum for homeschooling is no longer necessary, which was previously a big stumbling block for many parents.
In order to be able to officially be a home schooler you need to register with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority. In the documentation it states "The VRQA will not assess the home schooling program at the point of initial registration or annually. The VRQA will not mandate a curriculum for home schooling nor will it be necessary for home schooling parents to follow a school schedule. The eight key learning areas form the broad framework for the homeschooling programs. The method of delivery will be at the discretion of parents, based on the needs of their child".
Requirements of instruction in home schooling:
It is a requirement of registration of a child for home schooling that the child must receive regular and efficient instruction that—With regard to partial enrolment "Students registered for home schooling, and their parents, will be eligible to partially enrol at their neighbourhood Government school for specific activities as agreed by the school and parent." Principals have the discretion to decline enrolement where there are 'reasonable grounds' for doing so (such as class sizes).
(a) taken as a whole, substantially addresses the following learning areas—
(b) is consistent with the principles underlying the Act, being the principles and practice of Australian democracy, including a commitment to—
- The Arts;
- Health and Physical Education (including Sport);
- Languages other than English;
- Studies of Society and Environment;
- Technology; and
- elected Government;
- the rule of law;
- equal rights for all before the law;
- freedom of religion;
- freedom of speech and association;
- the values of openness and tolerance.
It's interesting isn't it! So, we don't have to send our kids to school, we can teach them as we see appropriate (see above) and government schools are compelled to take on kids part-time.
Tallarook Primary School has been open to this, the other schools in our area seemed had not experienced this type of approach before, they seemed less appropriate for our needs. We thought that we would give it a go at TPS next year for a day or two a week and see how it went. We can always change if things don't go as planned.
In discussing this idea with other parents we have discovered that there is a lot of interest out there, and virtually noone knew that part-time schooling was possible. I've spoken with a number of parents about forming a local network of 'home schoolers', or as I would rather word it "home learners". Perhaps once a week we can get together at someone's place and work on a project? Fun and games ahead!
UPDATE (29/11/12): For more, check out this post by Melbourne woman Asphyxia, she's seeing a future that I do too and has been homeschooling for quite a few years.