Qld Home School Frequently Asked Questions from Parents
Why do parents home school?
How do you start to home school?
Can any parent home school?
Do I have to be qualified to home school?
Where do I go to get information?
What curriculum do I use?
Those are some of the big questions parents ask themselves prior to embarking on the home school journey.
Since this forum supports the Qld home school community in particular, we’ll maintain a Queensland perspective as we attempt to address these questions. Members from interstate are welcome to participate in discussions on this forum however please refer to your own state’s home schooling guidelines for state-specific advice.
- Why do parents home school?
Every parent you speak to will have a different reason why they home school. The general consensus seems to be that the education systems provided here in our state, do not meet the needs of all children. These needs include the physical, mental, emotional, social, medical, safety (bullying) and academic needs of children.
- Is home schooling legal in Queensland?
Yes, it is. You may want to make yourself familiar with the Legislation.
However, not all families choose to register or enroll with a governing body, opting instead to home school outside of the law.
- Could I home school?
Yes, you could. However you have to commit the time and effort to ensure your child gets a high quality education. It takes dedication to provide structure and support on a daily basis. Many parents make drastic changes to their lifestyle, often foregoing one income, to give their children this kind of education.
The reward of seeing your children thrive in their new learning environment more than compensates for your hard work and sacrifices.
- What is the difference between the HEU registration and Distance Education?
When you register to home school with the HEU, you are accepting total responsibility for your child’s education. You provide or create your own curriculum for approval, sourcing and purchasing all of the resources and books that you feel you need in order to provide a high quality education. It is not the HEU’s role to create your curriculum and as such they provide only minimal support and direction in your planning.
At the end of each year the HEU also requires the submission of a progress report for each student. This report must provide evidence that the student has moved forward in their studies. Failure to show adequate progress may lead to your home school registration being revoked.
Parents often shy away from this option feeling very daunted by the unfamiliar task and lack of support. They may also feel uncertain about their own abilities to educate their children. Others feel uninterested in developing their own unique programs.
However, registering with the HEU provides a lot of freedom to make your own choices about the direction and content of the education you want to provide for your children. Provided the curriculum is considered of a high quality and your children are progressing, you are permitted the autonomy to home school however you see fit. Registering with the HEU is also the only payment free option available, however no resources are provided to the families.
When you enroll your child in a distance education school, the school usually provides you with an educational program or works closely with you to create an approved program. Families are in regular contact with their school either by phone, internet or in person. Some providers require units of work to be completed within given time frames and returned to the school to be marked. Each provider has its own list of expectations that you will be required to comply with, as well as school fees to be paid.
When families enroll with a distance education school, they share the educational responsibilities with qualified teachers, but control of your child’s education remains with the school. This option often provides the support and guidance that some new home schoolers desire.
Provided at the end of this document are links for the HEU and the various Distance Education options.
- Do I need to be qualified?
The short answer is no. You don’t need any special qualifications to teach your children.
On the HEU website it states that, “It is your right to educate your child at home”. By acknowledging your right to educate your own children, the state is inferring that you have the potential to provide an education equal to that provided at school. The only obstacles you face are your belief in yourself and your commitment to the task ahead.
Home schooling is just like parenting. As new parents we are completely unqualified for the task ahead and feel equally as daunted. But little by little we find our way after seeking advice, reading parenting books or trialing different approaches. Home schooling requires the same commitment to learning and improving.
Let’s face it. Parents are the experts when it comes to their own children. And if qualified teachers were experts then children would not be failing to thrive in schools.
Some program options
- What curriculum/program do I use?
Qld home school parents have a bewildering amount of choice when it comes choosing a suitable curriculum for their children. Below we have included a list (which is by no means complete) of the most commonly found methods of home schooling. It is not in any particular order of preference. Descriptions of each program were sourced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Licence.
- Classical Education: The Classical education movement advocates a form of education based in the traditions of Western culture, with a particular focus on education as understood and taught in the Middle Ages. The curricula and pedagogy of classical education was first developed during the Middle Ages by Martianus Capella, and systematized during the Renaissance by Petrus Ramus. Capella’s original goal was to provide a systematic, memorable framework to teach all human knowledge. The term “classical education” has been used in Western culture for several centuries, with each era modifying the definition and adding its own selection of topics. By the end of the 18th century, in addition to the trivium and quadrivium of the Middle Ages, the definition of a classical education embraced study of literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, history, art, and languages. In the 20th and 21st centuries it is used to refer to a broad-based study of the liberal arts and sciences, as opposed to a practical or pre-professional program.
Classical education developed many of the terms now used to describe modern education. Western classical education has three phases, each with a different purpose. The phases are roughly coordinated with human development, and would ideally be exactly coordinated with each individual student’s development.
- “Primary education” teaches students how to learn.
- “Secondary education” then teaches a conceptual framework that can hold all human knowledge (history), and then fills in basic facts and practices of the major fields of knowledge, and develops the skills (perhaps in a simplified form) of every major human activity.
- “Tertiary education” then prepares a person to pursue an educated profession, such as law, theology, military strategy, medicine or science.More information can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_education_movement
- Charlotte Mason (CM): Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason (1 January 1842 – 16 January 1923) was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of education in England at the turn of the twentieth century. Her revolutionary methods led to a shift from utilitarian education to the education of a child upon living ideas. She based much of her early philosophy on current brain research, on the writings of John Amos Comenius, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, and others, and on the collaborative efforts of those whose beliefs about education she admired, as well as her vast experience as both a teacher and a trainer and mentor for new teachers. After the release of a groundbreaking book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children’s Sake in 1984, Charlotte Mason’s six volume educational series was republished by Karen Andreola, author of A Charlotte Mason Companion. This led to a resurgence of Charlotte Mason’s educational methods for a new generation of teachers and students. Charlotte Mason schools can now be found across the United States: Ambleside Schools, Childlight Schools, charter schools, and independent private schools. Her methods are used widely within the homeschool community, disseminated by the advisory of Ambleside Online where the entire six volume educational series can be accessed as well as articles from Charlotte Mason’s Parents’ Review magazines. Ambleside Online has endeavored to recreate a Charlotte Mason curriculum for use in the United States and internationally. Regional and national conferences, retreats, and study groups have sprung up across the country as the movement toward valuing children as persons who are capable of grappling with a wide realm of ideas has increased in popularity.
Living Books: Probably the best known of Mason’s methods is her use of living books for every subject possible instead of dry, factual textbooks or books that are ‘written down’ to children. Rather than books written by committee, as most textbooks are, living books are usually written by one person with a passion for the topic and a broad command of the language as well as the ability to write in an engaging, literary style while communicating great ideas rather than mere facts. The size of the book is not as important as the content and style- it should be alive and engaging. Miss Mason did use textbooks when they were the best books she could find to meet the above criterion. Miss Mason dismissed as ‘twaddle’ materials that are dumbed down and insulting to children. Narration: Children are expected to tell about what they have read; this is referred to as narration. Narrations can be oral, written or drawn and should be given after only one reading of the material. This method requires the child to intentionally train his powers of attention, to synthesise all he has read, to organise the material it in his mind, and to determine how best to communicate all that he recalls in his own words. “Corrections must not be made during the act of narration, nor must any interruption be allowed.” Habit Training: Miss Mason believed that formation of good habits was a vital part of her educational method. It is such an important part of her educational philosophy that it forms the seventh point in the ‘short synopsis of the educational philosophy’ she included in the preface of each of her six volumes on education: “7. By “education is a discipline,” we mean the discipline of habits, formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structures to habitual lines of thought, i.e., to our habits.” She believed that a proper education included “the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully”. She believed that habit training was a powerful force in helping children to take charge of their own education. Miss Mason specifically encouraged a child’s learning the habits of attention, perfect execution, obedience, truthfulness, an even temper, neatness, kindness, order, respect, recall, punctuality, gentleness, and cleanliness, among others. Lessons: Mason advocated that lessons be kept short and focused for younger children, seldom more than 20 minutes in length. As children mature and develop greater mastery of their powers of attention, lessons grow progressively longer. Students were given a schedule so they knew they had a limited time to complete the lesson. Miss Mason believed that dreary or dawdling lessons ‘stultified a child’s wits’ and blocked his intellectual progress at the start. Mason believed these short, concentrated, focused lessons encouraged the habit of full attention, and securing such a habit early in life equipped the children to receive a broad education encompassing a well-ordered feast of subjects. Miss Mason also recommended alternating lessons so that children were doing a variety of work so as not to fatigue the brain- sums would be followed by a lesson in writing, for instance, rather than two history readings back to back.
More details can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Mason
- Montessori Education: Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development. Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 7,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to eighteen years old. Although a range of practices exists under the name “Montessori”, the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:
- Mixed age classrooms, with classrooms for children aged 2½ or 3 to 6 years old by far the most common
- Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours
- A Constructivist or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators
- Freedom of movement within the classroom
- A trained Montessori teacher
In addition, many Montessori schools design their programs with reference to Montessori’s model of human development from her published works, and use pedagogy, lessons, and materials introduced in teacher training derived from courses presented by Montessori during her lifetime.
- More information can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method
- Unschooling: Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child. The term “unschooling” was coined in the 1970s and used by educator John Holt, widely regarded as the “father” of unschooling. While often considered a subset of homeschooling, unschoolers may be as philosophically separate from other home schoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling. While homeschooling has been subject to widespread public debate, little media attention has been given to unschooling in particular. Popular critics of unschooling tend to view it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that unschooled children lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market, while proponents of unschooling say exactly the opposite is true: self-directed education in a natural environment makes a child more equipped to handle the “real world.”
Parents of unschoolers provide resources, support, guidance, information, and advice to facilitate experiences that aid their children in accessing, navigating, and making sense of the world. Common parental activities include sharing interesting books, articles, and activities with their children, helping them find knowledgeable people to explore an interest with (anyone from physics professors to automotive mechanics), and helping them set goals and figure out what they need to do to meet their goals. Unschooling’s interest-based nature does not mean that it is a “hands off” approach to education. Parents tend to involve themselves, especially with younger children (older children, unless new to unschooling, often need less help finding resources and making and carrying out plans).More information can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling
- Waldorf Education: Waldorf (Steiner) education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. The first Waldorf school was founded in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. At present there are 1,026 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 kindergartens and 646 centers for special education, located in 60 countries. There are also Waldorf-based state schools, charter schools and academies, and homeschooling environments. Waldorf pedagogy distinguishes three broad stages in child development, each lasting approximately seven years. The early years education focuses on providing practical, hands-on activities and environments that encourage creative play. In the elementary school, the emphasis is on developing pupils’ artistic expression and social capacities, fostering both creative and analytical modes of understanding. Secondary education focuses on developing critical understanding and fostering idealism. Throughout, the approach stresses the role of the imagination in learning and places a strong value on integrating academic, practical and artistic pursuits.
The educational philosophy’s overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence. Teachers generally use formative (qualitative) rather than summative (quantitative) assessment methods, particularly in the pre-adolescent years. The schools have a high degree of autonomy to decide how best to construct their curricula and govern themselves.
Waldorf education is the largest independent alternative education movement in the world. In central Europe, where most of the schools are located, the Waldorf approach has achieved general acceptance as a model of alternative education. Waldorf education has influenced mainstream education in Europe and Waldorf schools and teacher training programs are funded through the state in many European countries. Public funding of Waldorf schools in English speaking countries has been controversial, with questions being raised about the role of religious and spiritual content in or underlying the curriculum, and whether the science curriculum, which has achieved notable results, also includes pseudoscience and/or promotes homeopathy. The Waldorf movement has said that concerns over its stance on these matters are unfounded.
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education
As you can see, Qld home school options are vast, so feel free to ask any question on the Queensland Home School Forum.
Don’t forget to register on the site first.