THE number of children being homeschooled in Victoria is skyrocketing, yet unlike other states, there are no checks in place here to monitor standards.
And the Victorian Department of Education’s senior media officer, Stuart Teather, is refusing to comment on whether safeguards would be implemented in the future, saying only that all complaints were followed up to ensure children received “appropriate education”.
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Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Victorian children registered to be homeschooled almost doubled, according to the Government’s Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority.
Numbers jumped from 1829 children in 2008 to 3435 children last year.
Since 2011, the number of homeschooled children has increased by about 10 per cent each year.
In the Queensland homeschool system, annual reports with samples of the child’s work must be submitted to the Government’s Homeschool Education Unit to log their progress.
In NSW, before a parent’s registration to homeschool is accepted, an education official visits the home and assesses documentation showing how the child will be schooled. Applications can be rejected if they are deemed unsatisfactory.
In Victoria, these checks do not exist.
Instead, parents are only required to register their children and sign a yearly commitment form.
“It is a requirement of registration that parents must commit to providing regular and efficient instruction that substantially addresses eight learning areas,” Mr Teather said…
Social children prove critics wrongGEMBROOK homeschooling mum Jane Hope laughs when asked whether her three children are socialised enough.
“Anyone who thought homeschooling meant that children were not socialised properly would change their minds if they met my kids, who are very confident and happy,” she said.
Mrs Hope said she was not “anti-school” but felt strongly that a homeschooling environment was ideal for Caleb, 10, Miriam, 8, and Sally, 3.
She said her husband Steve, who worked full time, was also involved with the children’s education.
Mrs Hope has homeschooled since Caleb was 3 1/2 years old and said a typical day could include cooking lessons, gardening, history and excursions.
“I start the children’s day with 45 minutes each of book work – reading, writing, spelling – and I like that so I can look at what they are doing.”
Mrs Hope said she interacted with other homeschooling families and friends several times a week and operated on an “education barter system”.
A Portuguese speaker, Mrs Hope said she would take groups for language lessons at the family’s 9ha property and then another parent might cook the family dinner or teach her children to sew.
“I always look at what is successful for my children and what their interests are and tailor their learning.”
Mrs Hope said she wanted to homeschool her children through secondary school but would take a “wait and see” approach.
Caleb said he was curious to experience a traditional classroom setting but loved the way he learned.
Nothing but praise for homeschooling
SELF-DISCIPLINE, self-motivated learning – and cheap holidays – are major perks of homeschooling.
That’s according to Wantirna mother of three Janet Himstedt, who has been homeschooling her children for the past six years.
Although they are primary-school aged, she fully intends to homeschool them until they are 18.
Mrs Himstedt discovered homeschooling after moving to Thailand, where the only other option her family faced was international schools.
When the Leader visited the Himstedts’ home it was a hive of activity.
Jada, 12, was at the piano learning scales.
Haven, 7, was at her laptop in the “school room” surrounded by books, charts and a skeleton affectionately known as Billy Bones.
And in the backyard, Tia, 9, was at recess, playing by herself.
Mrs Himstedt, who is not a qualified teacher, does not follow a set curriculum but formulates her own, depending on her children’s interests and needs.
She pulls together lesson plans from both the US and Australia.
Subjects are often taught online or through a video.
The girls meet up with other homeschooled children as part of a group called the Melbourne East Co-op, which is a support group for homeschool parents and their children.
Here they take classes such as sport, dance or music.
There are more than 50 families on the MEC waiting list.
With homeschooling comes the flexibility of class time and term time.
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