Over the last few years, Australia has witnessed its population of homeschooling families steadily increase, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. As of 2019, there are over 20,000 registered homeschooled children, and it is estimated that an equal number is being homeschooled without registration. The number doesn’t include those enrolled in distance education either. It’s safe to say that the homeschooling movement is growing in Australia, but the question on many minds is, why? Let’s take a look at some of the common factors involved in the decision about the education of Australian children.
Families homeschool because… they can:
This is a very important one. You do not have to have a reason! Homeschooling in Australia is a legally recognised choice in every state and territory. While a plan must be submitted to the state authority to show that the chosen homeschool curriculum is in line with the national curriculum or State requirements, any parent can apply to homeschool their children.
Religion and Cultural Needs
One of the reasons that families have for choosing a homeschool curriculum in Australia is religious beliefs. Some parents may feel that their religious beliefs are not adequately covered or acknowledged at school, or perhaps they are not geographically or financially able to access a school that does. Some families also follow cultural holidays and traditions that are not recognised in the conventional school system so they feel they can better represent this by teaching their children themselves.
Personalisation and Special Needs
A huge draw for families choosing to homeschool their children is that they can personalise the curriculum and pace of education to suit the individual needs, strengths, and interests of their children. Let’s face it, no two children are the same. How can one teaching model fit? The answer, it doesn’t. Some families feel that children don’t learn well by sitting for hours at a desk each day with standardised lessons that don’t encourage children to develop passions, and don’t support them in addressing their weak areas. Homeschooling allows parents to both challenge and aid their children where necessary, and to adjust this as the kids develop and grow.
Homeschooling also allows kids to self-regulate when they need to, including when they need to eat or move, or go outside. They are less distracted by others, and can go slower or faster with their solo work as is natural for them on the day.
Parents with children that have special needs also tend to have concerns about their children receiving the kind of personal learning aids that are needed for them to thrive. Homeschooling gives them the opportunity to make sure their children are looked after and are learning at a pace that they are capable of when given the appropriate care.
Dissatisfaction with conventional School
In addition to feeling that the homeschool environment and curriculum offers more to their children, some homeschooling parents in Australia feel that the normal school classroom is not a positive learning environment. Some feel that the learning environment is poor in mainstream classrooms, that values and morals are not taught or are not in line with their own, the curriculum itself may be lacking or incorrect in some ways or they are ideologically opposed to the content, and that primary objectives of health and socialisation are not being met. Many parents of homeschool children also do not think the emphasis on standardised testing or regular exams is a necessary part of successful learning.
Bullying has increasingly become an issue both online and in the classroom. Some parents have reported making the decision to homeschool their children after their child experienced ongoing negative effects of bullying that weren’t being properly mitigated by the school. While there are many possible approaches to handling a bullying situation, ideally regarding all children involved, sometimes parents feel that the immediate safety and wellbeing of the children must be protected while another solution is being determined. Homeschooling is a popular option in these circumstances.
For some parents, sending their children off to school everyday allows them to go to work and take care of their responsibilities. Other families find the long school hours to be an obstacle in their family life which prevents them from having enough quality time together, especially for parents who work late or have weekend shifts. Families who have one parent that stays home during the day have found that homeschooling their children allows them to spend more time with their children and be more engaged in their educational content and experience. Homeschooling also allows siblings of different ages to spend more time together and bond in a different way.
What’s one of the biggest reasons that more and more Australian families are choosing to homeschool? Well, according to the statistics, it seems to be working well. Homeschooled children are not required to do NAPLAN testing but the results show that across the board they are scoring higher than those in conventional education settings. On average, homeschooled kids are scoring 70 marks higher overall. There are reported learning benefits in reading, language, maths, science, and social studies.
With almost one in every two hundred Australian children registered for homeschool education (and just as many unregistered), homeschooling is the fastest growing education demographic in the country, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Education is an important and individual choice for every family and child; what are your reasons for choosing homeschooling?