An Outline of Home Education in NZ


Loving and genuinely concerned parents are the best qualified of all to teach their own children. Who else is more motivated to invest the time, the money, the blood, sweat, toil and tears required for the child’s best interests than the parents? Who knows and understands the child better than the parents? Who is more motivated for the child’s success than the parents? A homeschooling parent has the vast advantage of a tutoring situation: one parent/teacher to one or two pupils, recognised worldwide as the most effective teaching method. Because of the logistical and political and practical difficulties associated with the conventional classroom, the average parent involved in home education routinely possesses advantages that outweigh even the most gifted of teachers in the most expensively equipped classroom. Two hours of quality one-on-one time with a parent can easily accomplish what a conventional classroom would take two weeks to do. Whatever they may lack in the area of formal educational qualifications, the home educating parent will usually more than compensate for in motivation and the advantages of one-to-one teaching.

Learning the three r’s, or teaching them, is no big mystery. Children learn most in those first 3-4 years when they are like little fact-sponges and are taught to speak and understand a totally foreign language by Mum with no curriculum. Home education is basically an extension to that. Children are natural learners with their own scope and sequence: the constant questions “Why?” and “How?” Simply answering these questions will cover all and probably a lot more than the Nation Curriculum Guidelines.

Schools and teachers only control the access to “schooling”….lecturing, pre-digested notes, certain classrooms and labs and paper qualifications. They do not control “education”. An education is available to all and is virtually free of charge: it is not in short supply, it does not diminish as more people get it. Schooling in schools and other institutions is in a limited, finite supply, and it is this which people like to control for they can make money out of it. Once a person learns to read, write, do numbers plus some research skills, they can teach themselves virtually anything….that is, a true education is out there to be acquired by anyone with the initiative to dig it up for themselves.

Parents’ biggest concern is that they are unqualified or unable to do this. Not so! Parents already know from lifes experiences what facts and skills their children really do need to know and which politically correct lessons can safely be dropped. If they are not themselves in mastery of the 3R skills (Reading wRiting and aRithmetic), they can learn along with their children, perhaps engaging a private tutor now and again. A parent’s enthusiasm and excitement for learning is contageous and will motivate the chidlren like few things else. In addition, we all know that the most important lessons of life each of us learned were not learned in the classroom. These lessons the home educating parent can teach without the bullying and drugs on the school campus.


This is usually the first objection people raise about home education, even before worrying about academic success. Home educators themselves and researchers both in NZ and overseas, regard “socialisation” as a non-issue among home educated children. They consistently demonstrate superior social skills. Children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. They need warm, responsive adults to teach and model proper social graces. Home educated youngsters generally fit in comfortably with a wider age range and are not dependent upon nor intimidated by their peer group.

Curriculum & Resources

Finding resources is not a problem: there is a vast variety available everywhere you look! There are many packaged programmes available, and many parents simply make up their own. One of the best resources is the public library. We always tell first-timers that if you have your Bible in one hand and your library card in the other, you’re pretty well set for all you need. Friends, neighbours, relations, local support groups, the internet all have expertise in many areas, just waiting for you to tap into it all!

We personally view all the academic teaching (now, I’m not talking about the spiritual, social, character training or work ethic) as divided into two baskets. In the first basket are the skills the child must master: and you know what they are: the 3Rs: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. These are non-negotiable with your children. They must master these skills, and they do take a fair bit of one-to-one tuition. Once they have mastered these skills, they can then teach themselves virtually anything. First they are learning to read. From then on they are reading to learn.

In the second basket is everything else: art, history, science, geography, PE, Health studies, etc. These can be taught by simply reading good books together and talking about it. Or search the internet together. Or do projects and field trips together. The whole family can take part in your one lesson plan, from the 5 year old to the 16 year old…you simply expect more from the older ones and a bit less from the younger ones.

Costs in Time and Money

It can be as expensive or as economical as you like, and time commitment is extremely flexible. First of all, dispel the picture of a mini-school established in your home: many start that way but few ever carry on that way, for schools are designed to deal with logistical problems completely absent from the home. At home you are in a tutoring/mentoring situation, the most superior setting for academic excellence, social training, physical self-discipline, character development and spiritual growth ever devised. Education is not limited to certain activities in a certain place during certain hours of the day: education and learning are taking place all the time, and parents with their children at home are in the unique position to pretty well organise what they learn, to what depth, in what manner and for what purposes.

Legal Issues

Your child does not need to be enrolled in any school until s/he turns six. A couple of months before this, in order to legally home educate, you need to contact the Ministry of Education to obtain a “Certificate of Exemption”. This takes several hours of work writing out what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and how you’ll know you’re making progress. It is like a statement of intent, rather than a contract, for both the Ministry of Education and the ERO recognise that good parent/teachers will be constantly changing and upgrading their programme.

In addition to the Exemption Certificate, every six months, in June and December, the Min of Ed will send you a Statutory Declaration. This says, “I Craig Smith solemnly affirm that I am still home educating Kaitlyn Smith as regularly and well as in a registered school.” Sign that in front of a JP or Court Registrar, it doesn’t cost anything, and post it to the Min of Ed. Once the Min of Ed has received this Statutory Declaration, you then qualify for an annual “homeschooling allowance” from the Ministry of $743 for the first child, $632 for the second, $521 for the third, and $372 for each one after that. And there are no strings attached to this money at all (apart from signing the Statutory Declaration), no accounting for how it is spent, and it does not count as part of your taxable income. We have no legal right to this allowance; it is a policy decision by the Min of Ed toward home educators our of the goodness of their collective hearts going back to a recommendation in the Picot Report of 1988.

Getting into University or Employment

Universities have various discretionary schemes whereby one who is under 20 can enrol without paper school-leaving qualifications if the admissions officer is satisfied that s/he is able to do the work (usually after an interview and the student getting a portfolio of his senior high school level work assessed by a secondary school teacher as equivalent to NCEA Level 3). Many also offer full-time courses (often called “Foundation Studies”) designed to bridge the gap between high school level and university for those who have no paper qualifications. Students aged 16 through 19 can sign up for classes with the NZ Correspondence School for free, take four papers in a single year at NCEA Level 3 (one does not need to work through Levels 1 and 2 before tackling Level 3), including the right maths and English papers, and end up with a University Entrance Qualification. If you only do one or two NCEA papers in a year via NZ Correspondence School, you can actually continue to receive the home schooling allowance from the Min of Ed at the same time! Or wait until age 20: all kiwis of this age have right of entry to NZ Universities, as long as the course is not one of those highly restrictive ones, such as law or surveying or optometry. All you need then is the enrolment fee.

Employers do not necessarily need qualifications but are certainly looking for character traits such as Reliability, Motivation, Honesty, etc. These are best taught at home. Seek creative ways to introduce yourself, showing the strengths you want the employer to see. Get work and character references from short-term, part-time and volunteer jobs. Really positive references such as these are worth their weight in gold.


Every piece of research has shown that home schooling produces children who are superior both academically and socially. Your family can also experience other wonderful benefits: function as a unit with children being thought of and trained up as vital parts of the family corporation, rather than thought of and treated like expensive freeloaders waiting to leave home. Many home educators experience no teen rebellion or generation gap. Kick the public school habit: be done forever with uniforms, peer pressure, school fees, bullying, drugs, and the bad attitudes and language and finger signs and head lice brought home from school. You’ll be glad you did.

For Reference: –National Home Education Research Institute — Home School Legal Defence Association(These first two contain many research articles and results.)

Home Education Foundation

Craig & Barbara Smith

PO Box 9064

Palmerston North 4441

New Zealand

Free Phone 0800 100 692

Craig & Barbara Smith

Home Education Foundation

PO Box 9064

Palmerston North 4441

New Zealand

ph. +64 6 357-4399

fax +64 6 357-4389

Serving, promoting, defending and publishing for Christian and secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.

Unless we press the crown rights of the King [Jesus Christ] in every realm, we shall not retain them in any realm. — Cornelius van Til

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