Nearly two years in, it’s safe to say, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Some of us are already pretty comfortable with this strange new world of homeschooling; some may be new to it. We thought we’d discuss what, exactly, homeschooling is and how you can support your children at home this year.
What is homeschooling?
Even before bushfires and a global pandemic forced many of us out of the classroom, homeschooling was on the rise in Australia. In fact, around 20,000 students were registered for homeschooling in Australia in 2019.
Homeschooling, or home education, is a legal pathway for parents who would like to teach their children outside of mainstream classrooms. Parents apply to their state education authority for registration and, if they can present all of the necessary documents, including a detailed education plan, they’re usually approved.
Why some families are choosing to homeschool
Although every decision to homeschool is unique, many families cite religious or philosophical motives. Some reports credit the rise in homeschooling to playground bullying, an increase in class sizes or a lack of faith in the traditional classroom model.
There are also parents who opt to homeschool their children because they’re geographically isolated or want to spend extended periods of time travelling. These families see education as an integrated part of their child’s life, and often put a great deal of emphasis on inquiry-based learning.
And now, after the experience of homeschooling, some families realise that there are different ways to manage their child’s education.
Am I really a homeschool teacher?
Families who apply for registration to homeschool their children have chosen this particular approach to education. Families forced into this situation due to Covid-19 are what we like to call unintentional homeschoolers.
Although parents in both groups play similar roles (teaching younger children and supporting older ones), there is a difference.
For unintentional homeschoolers, most schools provide support in the form of remote lessons or worksheets which parents implement at home. Unlike those who choose to register, there’s no onus on unintentional homeschoolers to develop lesson plans or design learning activities. And although implementing this work really does seem like the hard part, it’s nice to know that the learning outcomes have already been considered and that parents are being supported in their role with tailored schoolwork.
Am I ready to homeschool my child?
For parents that choose to homeschool, there is a significant amount of research involved to make sure all the necessary educational outcomes are met. You must decide on a method of homeschooling that suits you and your child, the right curriculum, and make sure to submit a plan for home education which aligns with the learning outcomes set out by your state education authority.
The reason for your selection of homeschooling will naturally inform much of your decision making. For instance, if you have chosen to homeschool your child because they have a special learning need, you may wish to access expert ancillary support and develop your at-home curriculum accordingly. Homeschooling gives you the option to align learning with your family’s lifestyle, but you need to make sure that you are still covering all the curriculum elements.
Understanding the challenges (and how to overcome them) from seasoned homeschoolers
We have a lot of experience supporting homeschooling families at Cluey. Many families turn to us because few parents are experts in everything. For many, helping their children learn creatively is the joy of homeschooling, but they are very grateful for support with the literacy and numeracy fundamentals. For other families, the incorporation of external structure in the form of regular tutoring sessions relieves some pressure and gives their child the benefit of learning from another adult.
“All parents have found it challenging at one time or another to teach their kids,” says Cluey Chief Learning Officer, Dr Selina Samuels. “Children, especially the teenage variety, tend to take things quite personally and can be sensitive to criticism from parents, however well-intentioned. The input of a tutor can provide a valuable additional viewpoint and help students to see their progress more clearly and objectively.”
Homeschooling tips and support
Dr Samuels’ key advice is to do what you can and let go of the rest. Focus on core literacy and numeracy skills and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to emulate their school day.
Dr Samuels’ top five tips:
- Identify your child’s greatest areas of learning need and look for expert support for these.
- Make sure you understand the requirements for homeschooling in your state. If in doubt, contact the relevant education authority directly.
- Don’t try to do everything. Seek out tutoring help when you need it.
- Create as much structure as you can. Children – even teenagers – crave more structure than they would ever admit to.
- Homeschooling should provide a benefit to your child and your family. Make sure you reflect regularly on how it is going and give yourself permission to change things up as you go.
How Cluey can help
Cluey tutoring is wonderfully flexible, both because it’s online and because we tailor our sessions to each individual child. We align with the topics your child is studying and ensure we cover the learning outcomes detailed in the Australian Curriculum.
We can create a custom learning program for your child based on their needs, or you can upload your own school work which your child can complete with the support of one of our expert tutors.
We’re all about removing any pressure of homeschooling and making sure your child gets the support they need in 2022 and beyond.