In my post on School Violence we looked at 3 factors to consider if parents are thinking of homeschooling their children:

  • Is my child’s safety at risk in school?
  • Is my child’s suited to homeschooling?
  • Are YOU up to it?

The last blog post – What Can I Do If My Child Is Being Bullied – looked at the strategies that can be used if your child is being bullied in school. In this blog, if you’re still thinking of homeschooling your child, these are some factors you should be considering:

Available Support

I know that in some places, there are education centres (not schools) that offer a homeschool setting for children whose parents do not wish to put them in public or private schools. The children are mainly taught by retired teachers and the centres (sometimes in private homes) are set up essentially like schools except for the size of the classes. Some centres also offer pathways to international examinations such as A-levels and International Baccalaureate. All this is very convenient for parents who want to homeschool but do not feel they are up to it. Please note that doing this is not legal in some countries.

However, if you do not have the convenience of such centres at your doorstep or if this is illegal in your country, and you want to homeschool your child, what are your first steps?

The internet has a whole array of resources and the homeschool market is growing very rapidly.

Here is an excerpt from Homeschooling Downunder, 2018:

Homeschooling in Australia is growing at a rapid rate. In some regions homeschooling statistics indicate up to a 300% increase in registered homeschool students.

Legal Requirements

The first thing to do is to check up the rules regarding homeschool where you are living. Legal requirements differ in different countries and even in different states. You MUST comply with the requirements of the country where you are living.

In Australia, children between the ages of 6 to 16 or 17 (depending on the state) are legally required to be in school or registered to homeschool. Some states allow these children to opt out of school if they meet certain workforce or vocational education requirement. And by the way, in Western Australia, attendance is taken in the morning and afternoon for students in Kindergarten to Year 6, and at EVERY lesson for secondary school students.

In Jacksonville, Florida in the USA, if a child has more than five unexcused absences in a calendar month or 15 unexcused absences in a 90-day period, parents can be arrested, charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 60 days in jail.

So this is really serious folks. Please do not just take your child out of school without first checking with the authorities. In most countries, this is the Department of Education.

Syllabus

Ok, so once you’ve checked with the authorities, the next thing to look at is the outcomes requirement. Is there a list of outcomes that are required for your child e.g. be able to count from 1 – 10 for a 3-year old? Count and write 1-50 for a 4-year old? The outcomes will be different for different countries. Is there a contact person/moderator who will check on your child’s progress? In most countries, an Education Officer will be appointed to your child. This is the best person to turn to with regards to satisfying the outcomes requirement for your country. Try and keep in touch regularly with this person. He/she is now your new best friend where your child’s education is concerned.

Next, the syllabus itself. Some countries require you to follow the national syllabus strictly, telling you what is required for each subject and when you have to teach it. Most are quite flexible. You probably just need to fulfil a list of outcomes over a set length of time. If this is the case, the easiest way to do this is to get your hands on the syllabus and divide the content by the number of weeks that you have to complete it. Unfortunately, a lot of syllabi are written in teacher-speak. For example, this is a part of the syllabus for K1 English in Western Australia:

Language

Reading and viewing

Encounter various forms of communication and respond to sounds, text, symbols, images or objects in their environment

Elaborations

  • experiencing sentences being communicated in different modes to express ideas, e.g. words, keywords, visuals, or sign
  • turning attention towards the spoken word of a familiar other
  • exploring how noises stop and start and can be long or short
  • tracking images, actions and objects moving horizontally and vertically

 

text

A means for communication. Their forms and conventions have developed to help us communicate effectively with a variety of audiences for a range of purposes. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, sounh1rack and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.

Now, be honest. How much of that do you understand? And even if you do, what does that look like in practice?

The easiest way to overcome this problem is to get yourself copies of the past years’ exam papers for your country or state. So, if you live in Western Australia, look for NAPLAN papers. If you live in Singapore and your child is of primary school age, check out the PSLE past years’ papers. Just find the past years’ papers for the national exams for your child’s age group. Do that for all the subjects in the syllabus.

Now, you are ready to begin.

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