November 15, 2018

What’s it like to home educate your children?

Currently, 6,000 New Zealand kids are getting homeschooled, not including those enrolled at the correspondence school Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

Educating a child at home can allow a parent to “light a fire in their hearts and minds” without pressure or competition, says Siobhan Porter, who has homeschooled all five of her kids.

Siobhan is the director of Auckland Home Educators – a support and advocacy group for homeschoolers.

She and education consultant Natalie Donaldson – who has also homeschooled five kids  – talk to Kathryn Ryan about their experience.

Siobhan Porter of Auckland Home Educators

Siobhan Porter of Auckland Home Educators Photo: Auckland Home Educators

Siobhan Porter had a private school education herself and every advantage, she says.

She hadn’t been exposed to home education at all when she became a mother. (Her children now range in age from 6 to 19.)

“When my oldest was nearly five, I thought ‘actually I don’t really want school to interrupt this lovely thing we’ve got happening here’.”

Siobhan met with some other people who were homeschooling and decided to give it a go.

“I thought ‘surely it can’t be too hard to teach a child to read. I can read myself, I’m not trained to do this but I think I could find out.”

Every child learns differently and as a parent, you have a lot of intuition about what is best for your own child, she says.

“When you can sit alongside your child and connect with them, it’s a wonderful process of them learning and you learning alongside them.

“You’re really lighting a fire in their hearts and minds and helping them to follow their passions.

“You can do that in a really thorough and unhurried way when you’re homeschooling without all that pressure and competition.

“They do this great learning but they still have heaps of time to play, explore, create and imagine.”

Natalie, whose kids now range in age between 11 and 19, also had no intention of educating her kids at home until it became clear her 5-year-old son was going to find school a big challenge.

She and her partner gave it a try for educational reasons, but didn’t realise it would also be “a great family thing it was to do”, she says.

“We didn’t realise it would give us the opportunity to be together as a family, to grow to know each other and to actually quite like each other in a way I didn’t realise you could do as a family.”

In New Zealand, homeschoolers don’t have to follow the New Zealand school curriculum and people take many different approaches to their kids’ education, Natalie says.

“Learning isn’t about reaching a particular milestone at a particular age. It’s about progressing along a continuum and gaining those skills as you are able and interested.

“If a child is illiterate at age 10 or 11 it does not mean they will have a poor education outcome long-term if a family is committed to [their education].

“If you take the institution out of learning, children just have this wonderful freedom and curiosity to learn.”

Homeschooled kids don’t have to miss out socially, she says.

“Children don’t have to be around 20 or 30 other children to be well-socialised. They do need a few good friends and they need to see those friends regularly.”

Auckland Home Educators hosts an event every term where kids can experience the wider community of homeschoolers, she says.

But people educating their kids at home also have to use initiative and create their own community, she says.

“You have to be proactive about seeking out those families at the same age and stage in your area that you can meet with regularly.”

When they’re reading for formal schooling, home-schooled children are generally well-grounded, she says.

“They really know who they are, they know their family, they know their family culture and values.”

One of the biggest challenges of home-schooling is living on one income, she says.

“There’s a lot of families who are on quite humble incomes who find creative ways to make homeschooling work for them.”

As a parent, more mess and clutter in the house and fewer breaks from your kids can be challenging, too, she says.

Natalie concedes homeschooling isn’t the right option for everyone, but sometimes the positive outcomes can take time to be revealed.

“It can look like [the child is] doing nothing in the early years, but inevitably, in the long run, these familes do extremely well.”

You can get more information about home education at the Ministry of Education website.

Radio New Zealand:

https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018669313/what-s-it-like-to-homeschool-your-kids

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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/

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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Why did you choose to home-school?

Stuff is asking the question:

Why did you choose to home-school?

education

Do you home school your children?

Seven per cent of New Zealand’s school population are taught at home. Last year, 5558 children from nearly 3000 families were home-schooled.

Canterbury has the third largest home-school community of 764, after Auckland’s 1214, and Waikato’s 818.

Home-school parents need approval and regular checks from the Ministry of Education, and must educate their children to the standard they would receive at a registered school.

So what is it about home schooling that attracts parents? Quality time, better managed health needs, freedom to individualise learning?

Or is it a perceived failing of the public education system? What does home schooling offer that public school cannot?

Do you home school your family? What was the reason behind your decision? What challenges have you faced since home schooling your children? Share your story with us in 300 words or more.
View all contributions:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/why-did-you-choose-to-home-school

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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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Home schooling: 818 Waikato children learn at home

They’ve been to kindy and one tried school, but the Morrison kids like learning at home.

And there’s a school roll’s worth of kids learning like them in the Waikato.

Nationally, there were about 5600 home schoolers in 2015 – including 818 in the Waikato and 1214 in Auckland.

STUFF is asking the question:

Why did you choose to home school?

Share your stories, photos and videos.

Home schooling Hamilton mum Loral Morrison doesn’t know where to start on stereotypes.

“There’s an assumption you drive a mini bus and have 17 children… Your kids all wear three-quarter pants and jerseys that are too small and have no social skills.”

Hamilton woman Loral Morrison home schools her three kids. She's pictured in 'the library' with Jacob, 4, (left) and Zeke, 8.

GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton woman Loral Morrison home schools her three kids. She’s pictured in ‘the library’ with Jacob, 4, (left) and Zeke, 8.

 Many assume all home schoolers are Christian – the Morrisons are.

Loral says balancing three kids’ learning needs is like solving a Rubik’s cube, but it’s still a low child-to-teacher ratio.

All her children spent time at kindy and started home education about age four.

Kayla Morrison's school desk is in her bedroom. The 12-year-old tried school for a year when she was eight but prefers ...

GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

Kayla Morrison’s school desk is in her bedroom. The 12-year-old tried school for a year when she was eight but prefers learning at home.

 Kayla, now 12, went to school for about a year when youngest brother Jacob was born.

“Kayla was reading around the age of three, speaking very early, just a bright kid,” Loral said.

“The reason we pulled her out of school again, we saw a drastic decline.”

Kayla, then eight, said she wasn’t challenged.

“Sometimes [at school] we would have really easy subjects and books that I might have been reading when I was six.”

There are as many reasons for home schooling as there are families and kids in them: quality time, better managed health needs, freedom to individualise the learning.

The Morrisons use a curriculum bought from the US.

“We try and have all of our books done by lunchtime, which is getting a bit more challenging now that there’s three [kids],” Loral said.

“It’s a little bit like a Rubik’s cube, changing around and making it work.”

They don’t have set hours during the week but include regular extracurricular activities and break for school holidays.

Parents or guardians who want to home school need Ministry of Education approval for each child, who must be taught “at least as regularly and as well as they would be in a registered school”.

Once granted, the parent or guardian is legally responsible for the child’s education.

Financial support for a single child is $743 a year.

Waikato’s The Home Educators Network (THEN) liaises with the ministry through Sheena Harris.

It has about 100 members with a rural – urban spread.

Harris has noticed a slight increase in people who choose to teach their kids after diagnoses of special needs such as ADHD and autism.

And while she knows of a couple of dads, it’s mostly mums who are the main teacher for their kids.

For more information on home schooling in the Waikato, contact Sheena Harris on sheenaharris.cm@btinternet.com

– Stuff

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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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Arthur Family Orchestra

The Arthur family from left: Shantae, Marie, Brontie, Kayla, Hayley Smith, (Nick's fiancée) Nick, Caleb, Brianna, Josiah and Sophia. Missing is dad Blair and eldest daughter Caitlin. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
The Arthur family from left: Shantae, Marie, Brontie, Kayla, Hayley Smith, (Nick’s fiancée) Nick, Caleb, Brianna, Josiah and Sophia. Missing is dad Blair and eldest daughter Caitlin. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

In a long dining room the windows and french doors open onto farm land and an orchard where labrador escapee Jack is snuffling against the fence.

Pigs shuffle round a paddock and sheep wander under the trees; the Arthur family’s day is underway.

Marie and Blair Arthur’s nine children range from 25 to 6 years-old, they all live at home, are all home schooled and are passionate about their home, their parents and each other.

Three go off to work, so that leaves six at home on the farm in Marton, situated in the Manawatu-Wanganui region.

Described in the Marton community as a “musical prodigy”, eldest Caitlin is a violin and piano tutor and also teaches at Nga Tawa Diocesan School. She also instructs her younger brothers and sisters in music.

Read a lot more about the Arthur family here: https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://nchenz.us3.list-manage2.com/track/click?u%3Db416e2b4275353dcb9a29c8c0%26id%3D5503ac4d06%26e%3Dc730ed307e&source=gmail&ust=1492046746561000&usg=AFQjCNFJVjV3indVuADqrFrfW-aNgqorNQ

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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Growing Knowledge pays

Alex Dixon’s passion for gardening has paid off in spades.

The 7-year-old Hampden boy recently won the best garden in the child category of the Yates Spring Veggie Growing Challenge, receiving $500 plus a hamper of Yates products.

Educated at home and a first-time entrant, Alex was keen to learn more about gardening as part of his science projects and spent hours researching in order to create the optimum growing conditions for his vegetables.

“I learned about different soil conditions, micro and macro nutrients, pH testing of soil and climate effects on germination so that when I planted my seeds they would all grow really well,”said Alex.

He successfully grew a range of vegetables including lettuce, Chinese cabbage, spinach, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, cauliflower, spring onions, red onions and his favourite, courgettes.

Alex’s mother, Kirsten, said the competition had been wonderful for his learning and just for having fun.

“Alex got so much encouragement from the other gardeners in the competition through the online blogging and he also connected with another boy his age in Northland and they did a seed swap. The sharing of knowledge from the more experienced gardeners really helped Alex sort out a couple of problems he had along the way.”

One of those problems was every gardener’s nemesis – aphids.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.oamarumail.co.nz/community/growing-knowledge-pays/

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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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