December 20, 2014


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When worksheets don’t work

A wonderful article on finding out our children’s learning styles:

by on December 16, 2014
in a mom’s education · 21 Comments

 

shawna1picmo

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not The Former Things

I have a confession to make.

This may sound a little crazy, but when I was in school, I actually enjoyed completing worksheets. It didn’t matter the subject, whether it was fill-in-the-blank or circle-the-correct -answer, I loved them.

There was something about the promise, as I would write my name in the upper left hand corner (because, of course), that this worksheet would be complete — all the lines filled in, the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed – this worksheet would show how much I “knew.”

Fast-forward about 25 years to when I started homeschooling my own two sons, and not much had changed. I still loved the worksheets. I wanted my sons to love the worksheets.

I wanted them to see the ease and brilliance of just following the directions, and then moving on with your day.

But they didn’t see the brilliance. And the ease? For both of my children, worksheets are suffocating and tedious at best, and a reminder of how difficult some of their special needs are at worst.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson quickly. I wish I could say that I was easily able to walk away from all those check-for-understandings and fill-in-the-blanks, but I didn’t. In fact, to this day, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the section in Barnes and Noble that has all the workbooks by subject and by grade — Every. Single. Time.

The reality that I have come to accept, and have even learned to enjoy sometimes, is that the way I learn, is dramatically different than the way my children learn.

And, the way my oldest son learns (who was reading at 3 ½ without me doing a thing – don’t be jealous or roll your eyes yet …), is dramatically different than the way my youngest son (who is approaching 9, has been diagnosed with profound dyslexia and a processing disorder, and still sometimes forgets how to form the letters in his own name) learns.

So, what does our educational life beyond worksheets look like these days?

Be sure to read the rest of this article on what their educational life beyond worksheets looks like these days here: http://simplehomeschool.net/worksheets

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Updated 1 October 2014:  Three years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

Information on getting startedhttp://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

Information on getting an exemptionhttp://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: http://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

Beneficiaries: http://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-categories-and-work-focus-amendment-bill-has-passed-its-third-reading

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Is it possible for children to ‘learn a different way’?

Home-Education is About Learning, Not Schooling

August 2011 sm_067

An excellent article by Contributing Editor with JUNO magazine interested in science, tech, the environment, green and gentle parenting

I wonder whether approaching the subject a different way would have been more tactful. First, a barrage of questions washes over me; ‘What do you mean, you’re going to teach them yourself? How will you know what to teach? But you’re not qualified to teach that subject?’ Then, more adamantly stated, ‘Are you sure it’s legal?’

These are the incredulous comments of a teacher friend of mine after hearing that my husband and I plan to home educate our children. She studied for four years in order to teach in a school, and she strongly believes that teachers who study for less than two years are not ‘properly qualified’ to impart knowledge to young people. So, I’m having trouble conveying to her our decision not to send our children to school. To say that we plan to ‘home-school’ our daughter does not offer much explanation, as the term implies that teaching will take place in a structured fashion, in the home instead of the school, with a strict timetable, exams and homework, and to a strict curriculum. If this was the case, there would be little difference between home education and school education.

Thankfully, there is another, more natural way of learning, which is perfectly legal and does not require ‘qualified’ teachers. This type of ‘life education’ is known as autonomous learning, and it is not restricted to a specific building or term times and timetables of learning. Life-learning is what most passionate individuals do naturally every day, every hour if not every minute, thanks to an innate thirst and a passion for learning, or self-educating, which is with us from the moment we emerge from the womb into the sounds and smells of the world. Humans are born autonomous learners.

But we treat children differently. At school, they are forced to learn subjects that may not come naturally to them and which, in some cases, they will never use again. This is demoralising for any individual and it creates a passive mind and voice in a young learner. It also makes learning seem dull and monotonous. In the school setting, criticism of teaching methods, individual opinions, independent thought and asking too many questions is frowned upon, often because teachers simply don’t have the time to deal with them. Facts are absorbed, parrot-fashion, but a certain passion for the subject is missing, which is an inevitable outcome of forced learning for both children and adults alike. Children look forward to ‘holidays’ away from school, where their minds are free to roam and grow without constraints, and they no longer have to worry about retributions for what is deemed as poor work, or about making the grade. Few children ever make the grade in every class.

Another common misconception about home-schooling is that it is anti-education, or against the education establishment. The distinction that is missing here is that the autonomous learning movement is entirely pro-learning, but anti-formal education, which is, by its very nature, draconic and cannot suit every child’s needs.

Home educating parents recognise that attending to every child’s individual needs is an impossible feat for any teacher with a class of 30 children to get through exams, coursework and so on. Home educators are able to offer one-to-one guidance, knowledge, and resources whenever they may be required. When children learn ‘at home’, they are free to learn autonomously instead of being sent to a large building where unknown individuals prescribe their learning. They can choose their own routes into education, whether through visual and audio aids, hand-on messy experiments where the kitchen becomes a lab for a week, through reading and Googling, and by asking questions and absorbing the answers- which all children naturally do. Through taking charge of their own learning, they acquire the skills they will need in later life; the skills that will make them good at their vocations, without the negatives of subjects they were ‘no good at’ hanging over them. They are also free to pursue specific areas of interest as far as they want to…

Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/zion-lights/home-education_b_1937272.html

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 1 October 2014:  Three years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

Information on getting startedhttp://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

Information on getting an exemptionhttp://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: http://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

Beneficiaries: http://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-categories-and-work-focus-amendment-bill-has-passed-its-third-reading/

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Dr Ruth Beechick – You can Teach your Child Successfully

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 1 October 2014:  Three years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

Information on getting startedhttp://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

Information on getting an exemptionhttp://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: http://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

Beneficiaries: http://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-categories-and-work-focus-amendment-bill-has-passed-its-third-reading/

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Truancy and the Home Schooler/Home Educator

Craig with children and timelineThe law says that a child between the ages of 6 and 16 must be in school (unless they are under 7 and live 3km walking distance from the school or it is not convenient to catch the bus which is under 3km from your home. And for the child under 10: Exemption from attendance.)

So to keep our children at home to educate them, we have to apply for an exemption (see also Effect of exemption).

While we are in the process of applying for an exemption, our child could be six or seven or even older. All correspondence from the MoE must say that our children have to be in school during those ages, because that is the law – and the MoE has to keep within the law. So what can we do?

A problem arises when our exemptions have not been approved by the time our child turns six/seven, or when they are already in school and we want to take them out immediately. There are many reasons why our exemptions may not be approved on time. The MoE does not look at the exemption applications until our children are almost six, and then it can take up to six weeks to get the exemption. If the MoE requires more information, this usually means that our child has turned six and the parents may face a penalty for failure to enrol of $3000.00 if convicted (I have never heard of anyone being fined while applying for an exemption). There are many reasons why those pulling their child/ren out of school want to do that straight away. There may be a bullying problem, or they may have moved and don’t want their child/ren going through the stress of a new school for two or three weeks. It may be after the holidays and the parents want to capitalise on what has been achieved in building up their relationships over that period etc. If convicted of truancy the fine is $30.00 a day and does not exceed $300.00 for first offence or $3000.00 for second and subsequent offence. (Again, I have never heard of anyone being fined when they have pulled their children out of school while waiting to get their exemption – although sometimes it does make it more difficult to get the exemption.)

So what can we do when our child is six/seven and under sixteen and we still do not have an exemption? At the Red Tape Cluster Buster meeting we discussed the need for the exemptions to be processed faster than 4-6 weeks. I also asked for there to be some leniency for home educators, after reading a letter from Jim Greening to Prinicpals where he says:

In 2013, the Attendance Service received over 38,000 unjustified absence and non enrolment referrals.  This high number of referrals shows us the importance of ensuring students attend school to reach their potential.  However, with this high number of referrals we want to ensure that schools are playing their part before making a referral to the Attendance Service.  It is important that your school has an attendance management plan in place to ensure your students attend school and that all reasonable actions are exhausted before making a referral through to your local Attendance Service.

The Attendance Service is here to support you when your attempts to solve non-attendance issues are not successful and the non-attendance is on-going.  The Attendance Service is designed to help you deal with students of chronic non-attendance rather than students who occasionally don’t go to school.

For 2014, there will be a focus on decreasing the number of students who are re-referred to the Attendance Service.  The aim is to identify root causes of non-attendance, implement strategies to address these, and help ensure students are returned to a sustainable regular attendance.  We look forward to working with you on this and value your commitment and ongoing involvement in these matters.

The Head office of the MoE is far more interested in finding and addressing the chronic non-attendance at schools than tracking down the Home Educator who is currently in the process of applying for an exemption.

I talked with the Red Tape Cluster Buster team about this and asked if something can be done for us. Megan was quick to come back with what is already in place – Justified absence (any amount of time) and Unjustified absence (20 days only). So I “searched” the MoE website for these terms and came up with this:

The Law: Release from school and Exemption from attendance 

The Policy: Absence from school definitions – we can use these to our advantage when pulling children out of school, or once our child turns six and we still don’t have an exemption.

Justified absence – occurs when the reason for a student’s absence fits within the school’s policy as a justifiable reason for the student’s absence. (Any amount of time.)

Unjustified absence – are full-day absences which are either unexplained, or the reason for the absence is not within the school’s policy as a justifiable reason for the student to miss school. (20 consecutive days)

Intermittent unjustified absence – occurs when a student is absent for part of a morning (or afternoon)without justification.

Overall absence (or non-attendance) – the sum of justified absence, unjustified absence and intermittent unjustified absences.

Truancy – the sum of unjustified absence and intermittent unjustified absence.

Non-enrolment – after 20 consecutive days of continuous unjustified absence, a school removes a student from their roll (ENROL) and a referral is made to the Attendance Service .

“Please refer to Attendance Matters [PDF: 1.13mb] pages 10-11 for more detailed information on the absence codes and definitions.

Below are the things that could apply to home educators from pages 10-11 mentioned in the above PDF.

Justified absence

Student absent due to short-term illness/medical reasons – Student is at home, with an illness or medical reason. Depending on school policy a medical certificate may be requested for prolonged illness, eg three days, or as policy requires.

Justified explanation within the school policy -

• Unplanned absences such as a bus breakdown, accident, road closure, extreme weather conditions etc.
• Planned non-attendance such as national/local representation in a sporting or cultural event in New Zealand or overseas. (See also Code O)
• Approved absence (including overseas) can also include bereavement, visiting an ill relative, exceptional family circumstances or a Section 27.

Unsupervised study – student is off-site – Code X will count as a justified absence and be used in ½ day absence summaries. Note that supervised study is recorded as a regular timetabled class

Justified overseas – check next column for justification examples– A student accompanying or visiting a family member who is on an overseas posting (the student can be held on the roll for up to 15 consecutive weeks). Eg military ordiplomatic.

Student is stood down or suspended – Student is stood down or suspended according the conditions of Section 14 of the Education Act 1989.

Unjustified absence, Unjustified absences , Intermittent unjustified
absence

Unknown reason  - This is the initial entry for a student not in class and the reason is unknown. It will be edited as relevant information becomes available about the reason for the
non-attendance. The system can be configured by the school to automatically change (or not change) the “?” code to a “T” after a configurable number of school days (eg seven).

Student is absent with an explained, but unjustified reason – The explanation for the absence is accepted by the school as the reason for the absence, but the reason does not fit within the school’s policy as a justifiable reason to take the student off school (even though the parents may consider the absence was justified and may have provided a written explanation). Eg “Molly had to stay home to look after her younger brother” or “We went for a two-week family holiday in the South Island.” This includes overseas absence not approved by the principal. (A parent’s note does not provide justification.)

No information provided – truant (or throw-away explanation) – This code is for an absence where no verifiable explanation is received, or the explanations are like the following:
• I don’t like my maths teacher so I took the period off.
• I had an assignment to be handed in next period so I took this period off to finish it.
• I was hot so went down to the river.
• We had a test and I wasn’t ready for it.
• I was at the shops.

My Conclusions

From reading the PDF above it is clear that principals are being encouraged to work hard on Unjustified absence, Unjustified absences , Intermittent unjustified absence. There is a challange out there for them to have the lowest percentage of unjustifed absence in their school. Some schools have a zero tolerance approach to truancy.

So I believe that it is in our best interests to have a Justified absence while applying for our exemptions. I think that this will keep the principals happier – we won’t make their total Unjustified absences worse. (An example of a justfied absence would a Doctor’s certificate)

I have asked the Red Tape Cluster Buster team to make “justified absence” a part of the process of applying for an exemption  application if our children are aged between 6-16.

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Policy – Advice: Non-attendance of students under the age of six

While a parent may enrol their child who is five years old in school, the parent is not legally required to ensure they attend until they turn six.

Attendance

• A school board still has a role to, by any means it thinks appropriate, take all reasonable steps to ensure the attendance of students enrolled at its school.
• If intermittent attendance by an enrolled five-year-old is a concern, the school can seek help from the attendance service, community agencies, CYF or the Police.
• The greatest concern for principals is not knowing if a child is at home or whether something untoward has happened on the way to school. Schools can contact Attendance Services to support them to confirm the safety
of a child if they have been absent from school. Also a visit from CYF or a community constable to a parent may be enough.

Non enrolment

• A parent is free to withdraw their five-year-old at any time and not re-enrol them at another school until they turn six.
• After 20 consecutive days of unjustified absence schools may remove a five-year-old from the school’s roll.

I wanted to know exactly what the law was and how it was applied – the policy, and then how we can use the policy to keep within the law.

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 22 April 2014:  Two years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

Information on getting startedhttp://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

Information on getting an exemptionhttp://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: http://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

Beneficiaries: http://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-categories-and-work-focus-amendment-bill-has-passed-its-third-reading/

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Education Law in New Zealand- updated with extra links

We are often asked:

“What does the law say about homeschooling in New Zealand?”

Here is the Act: New Zealand Education Act 1989

The law: New Zealand citizens and residents between 6 and 16 to go to school

PART III ENROLMENT AND ATTENDANCE OF STUDENTS
20 New Zealand citizens and residents between 6 and 16 to go to school
  • (1) Except as provided in this Act, every person who is not an international student is required to be enrolled at a registered school at all times during the period beginning on the person’s sixth birthday and ending on the person’s 16th birthday.

    (2) Before a child’s seventh birthday, the child is not required to be enrolled at any school more than 3 kilometres walking distance from the child’s residence.

    Compare: 1964 No 135 ss 108, 109

    Section 20 heading: amended, on 1 January 1993, by section 5 of the Education Amendment Act (No 4) 1991 (1991 No 136).

    Section 20(1): amended, on 30 August 2011, by section 13 of the Education Amendment Act 2011 (2011 No 66).

    Section 20(1): amended, on 1 January 1993, by section 5(1) of the Education Amendment Act (No 4) 1991 (1991 No 136).

Home Education: Long term exemptions from enrolment

21 Long term exemptions from enrolment
  • (1) An employee of the Ministry designated by the Secretary for the purpose (in this section and section 26 referred to as a designated officer) may, by certificate given to a person’s parent, exempt the person from the requirements of section 20,—

    • (a) on the parent’s application; and

    • (b) if satisfied that the person—

      • (i) will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school; or

      • (ii) in the case of a person who would otherwise be likely to need special education, will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a special class or clinic or by a special service.

    (2) A certificate under subsection (1) continues in force until it is revoked or expires under this section.

    (3) If a designated officer refuses to grant a certificate under subsection (1), the applicant parent may appeal to the Secretary who, after considering a report on the matter from the Chief Review Officer, shall confirm the refusal or grant a certificate.

    (4) The Secretary’s decision is final.

    (5) Every certificate under subsection (1) or subsection (3) shall state why it was given.

    (6) Subject to subsection (7), the Secretary may at any time revoke a certificate under subsection (1) or subsection (3).

    (7) The Secretary shall not revoke a certificate under subsection (1) or subsection (3), unless, after having—

    • (a) made reasonable efforts to get all the relevant information; and

    • (b) considered a report on the matter from the Chief Review Officer,—

    the Secretary is not satisfied of whichever of the grounds specified in subsection (1)(b) the certificate was originally granted on.

    (8) If the Secretary thinks any person exempted under subsection (1) would be better off getting special education, the Secretary may revoke the certificate and issue a direction under section 9.

    (8A) A certificate for the time being in force under subsection (1) or subsection (3) expires when the person to whom it applies turns 16 or enrols at a registered school, whichever happens first.

    (9) Every certificate of exemption under section 111 of the Education Act 1964 that was in force on 30 September 1989 shall be deemed to have been granted—

    • (a) on the ground specified in subsection (1)(b)(i) if it was in fact granted—

    • (b) on the ground specified in subsection (1)(b)(ii) if it was in fact granted—

    and may be revoked under this section accordingly.

    Section 21(2): amended, on 19 December 1998, by section 10(1) of the Education Amendment Act (No 2) 1998 (1998 No 118).

    Section 21(6): amended, on 23 July 1990, by section 10 of the Education Amendment Act 1990 (1990 No 60).

    Section 21(8A): inserted, on 19 December 1998, by section 10(2) of the Education Amendment Act (No 2) 1998 (1998 No 118).

    Section 21(9): inserted, on 1 January 1990, by section 8 of the Education Amendment Act 1989 (1989 No 156).

    Section 21 compare note: repealed, on 20 May 2010, by section 11 of the Education Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 25).

walking distance, in relation to travel between a person’s residence and a school,—
  • (a) where there is no public transport that the person can conveniently use, means the distance (measured along the most direct route by public road, public footpath, or combination of both) between the residence and the school; and

  • (b) where in both directions there is public transport that the person can conveniently use, means the sum of the following distances (each measured along the most direct route by public road, public footpath, or combination of both) or, where the sum is greater in one direction than the other, the greater sum:

    • (i) the distance between the residence and the place where public transport must first be taken (or, as the case may be, finally be left); and

    • (ii) the distance between the school and the place where public transport must finally be left (or, as the case may be, first be taken); and

    • (iii) every intermediate distance between one element of public transport and another

Extra links:

Special education
Secretary’s powers when excluded student younger than 16
Employment of school-age children
Ensuring attendance of students
Effect of exemption
Penalty for failure to enrol
Exemption from attendance
Burden of proof on parents

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