In a society where time and resources are scarce, the flexibility and opportunities presented by homeschooling are an attractive solution.
Feilding woman Lynne Prior homeschooled her six children for the past 15 years, with two children still learning from home.
Liana, 19, Alyssa, 16, Aiden and Celese, 14, Rehum, 11, and Livinia, 7, were all homeschooled during their primary and intermediate years.
Lynne, who was on the board of Manawatu Home Educators Group, said she decided to homeschool her children so she could be more involved in their lives.
“This way I have a little bit more input in their education and little bit more input in their lives.”
Lynne said the student-to-teacher ratio was another factor in the family’s decision to keep the kids at home.
“They can get lost in the system.”
A child did not have to be enrolled in school until the age of six.
At this time parents could apply for an exemption, and anyone could teach their children without any qualification.
“Anyone can homeschool,” Lynne said.
“You don’t have to be a teacher.”
There were a variety of reasons why people chose to homeschool their children.
It could be for the flexibility, the child might not have done well in a mainstream school, or parents might want the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to their child, Lynne said.
The Prior family had a large Christian component in their school work, which would not be taught in mainstream schools.
Despite staying at home with their family, rather than going to school with other children, the Prior family were not shy, or socially challenged.
The Manawatu Home Educators Group, which had up to 100 member families in the past, set up an annual athletics days, and a home and country show, to get homeschooled children from around the district interacting with each other.
The group also organised regular outings, and field trips, like any other school, Lynne said.
As well as group outings the Prior family also play seasonal sports, take dancing lessons, and attend Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade.
Despite the interest in the annual events it was hard to gauge how many children were being homeschooled in the area.
“There are a lot of opportunities, but not everyone takes advantage of them,” she said.
Homeschooling was also popular in Northland and Whanganui, Lynne said.
Despite the stigma attached to children who had been homeschooled, when Lynne’s children moved onto Feilding High School the teachers were impressed at their forthcoming natures, and willingness to ask questions, she said.
“The teachers are impressed at their level of maturity.”
There were always people, and teachers, who judged the Priors for being homeschooled, but the children learnt to ignore the comments, Lynne said.
The children did really well at school because they had a good work ethic, and were focused. Lynne said a lot of homeschool children did well at school, but not all of them were as self-assured as the Prior family.
Liana, who was 19, was starting Lincoln University this year to study landscape and architecture, and Alyssa, 16, was in year 12 at Feilding High School and taking a year 13 subject.
Alyssa said the transition to high school was an easy one. Lynne said it was important to get out and about with the children.
And she wanted other homeschooling families to know there was support and activities available to them.
If you want to know more about homeschooling, or for how to order resources phone Lynne Prior on 06 323 4708 or Robyn Beals 06 355 0721.
– © Fairfax NZ News
From the Smiths:
Updated 2 June 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:
This link is motivational: