Part-time schooling

Principle 1 : Observe and interact

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—
(a) taken as a whole, substantially addresses the following learning areas—
  1. The Arts;
  2. English;
  3. Health and Physical Education (including Sport);
  4. Languages other than English;
  5. Mathematics;
  6. Science;
  7. Studies of Society and Environment;
  8. Technology; and
(b) is consistent with the principles underlying the Act, being the principles and practice of Australian democracy, including a commitment to—
  1. elected Government;
  2. the rule of law;
  3. equal rights for all before the law;
  4. freedom of religion;
  5. freedom of speech and association;
  6. the values of openness and tolerance.
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).

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.


Leigh Blackall said…
thanks for this post Richard. We have a 3 yo, and we've just moved to Melbourne. My wife is about to have her second child, and our plan is to reduce or own work to part-time.

When we lived in Darwin we knew a few teachers with kids approaching school age, and they too had reservations about full time schooling. They themselves didn't much enjoy teaching in schools. My thought was to try and form a network of homes, a bit like home day care. But your comment that you don't want to create school at home sounds like you'd be adverse to this idea. It was to find teachers who thought they could teach kids in their homes, with regular outings and plenty of flexibility. We thought this might help parents who themselves had to go to full time work, but wanted more loving environments for their kids.

We worked out it could work at 5000 per kid if 10-15 kids could commit to a year. The 50-75 grand would be distributed to the teachers working from home, and resources if some parents could afford to volunteer their time.
Richard said…
Interesting idea Leigh. Love to hear how it goes if you get it off the ground.
One of my issues with traditional schooling is that the teacher needs to be in control almost all of the time. I've got two kids and I sometimes find them hard to manage. 5-7 times as many would be full on and wouldn't allow for much one on one time. But some people are good at it.
I once heard someone say that half the time in class was spent trying to get the kids to listen to the teacher. Don't know how true that is, but it's worth thinking about.
Chris said…
It's a challenge isn't it. We tried to home school as our daughter was just not ready to be surrounded by children. She couldn't handle the noise or everything which was suddenly expected of her.

We took her out between grades 1 and 2. It was great in many regards but I did lack the network too. It was there, a 15 minute drive up the mountain, but I found I struggled to make it to all the meet-ups.

The meet-ups were great though. They were held in various local parks once a fortnight, where people brought their own food and the kids would play and the parents could talk to other adults.

People often kept an eye open for various events too, like a special museum exhibition which they could take their kids to as a group, and use it as a learning experience.

They were all great ideas but I really struggled to make it to many. My routine at home is pretty inflexible when it comes to going to external activities. The Qld flood put an end to homeschooling however. We had to spend a few months putting the property back together and it didn't seem fair to keep her learning on hold.

Qld home education is way more strict in its requirements. While you can set your own learning schedule, you have to demonstrate you're following the Qld criteria and report annually.

Sounds like you get a better arrangement in Victoria.
Chris said…
I also wanted to say, I don't think it's natural or indeed healthy for kids to be kept in large rooms for so many hours of the day. Especially so young.

If you're kids are used to walking around the property, doing as they please, they don't tend to thrive in regimented school systems. They get caught in class, staring out the window wondering what adventures are outside to be had.

That was one great thing to come out of our home education experience - I learned how my child learned best. She showed me how to communicate with her the way she could understand.

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