Home-school family learn together

Home-school family learn together


By CAROLYN THOMAS – Western Leader


FAMILY TIES: Amy, 18, Chloe, 6, mum Kate, Rosie, 8, and Sophie, 13, enjoy home-schooling.

Home-school mother Kate Todd wasn’t going to let her girls miss out on a full curriculum.

So 10 years ago she set up the Westgate Home School Group to ensure an all-round education for daughters Amy, 18, Sophie, 13, Rosie, 8, and Chloe, 6.

Now more than 200 kids from kindy to high school take part in weekly art, sports, drama and science classes.

The Todds are one of many New Zealand families who choose to home-school their children.

“When Amy was five she was so clever, she was reading fluently. I’d just had Sophie, and Amy wanted to stay home.

“I thought, well she doesn’t legally have to go to school until she’s six and I knew she’d be fine,” Kate says.

The former primary school teacher launched into action after learning the local home-school group was full.

“It was awful, families were being turned away,” she says.

She approached the Massey Leisure Centre’s manager for space.

“There were seven other families and we started doing sports and art up there as soon as it opened.”

It grew from there with dance, creative writing and biology classes added over the years.

The regular contact also provides support to the parents.

“It’s really important that home-school parents socialise. Everybody pulls together and brings in new ideas.

“There is a lot of responsibility on the stay-at-home parent. If you weren’t given the support and encouragement then you’d burn out.”

Kate says people choose home-schooling for various reasons.

Sometimes a child just does not suit a classroom setting,” she says. “I think it’s a privilege that I’ve been able to have all this time with my children.”There was little disruption when dad’s job took the family to China for two years – something they would not otherwise have been able to do.

The eldest, Amy, is now in her second year of a speech and language therapy degree.

“I think I actually found the transition from high school to university a bit easier than my peers. At first they found it difficult being given assignments with no guidance,” Amy says.

“As a home-schooled kid, you can sort out what you need to do and do it independently.”