We talk to April and Greg Simon of SouthEast Home Education about what it takes to homeschool your children including the cost/benefit analysis.
Everything that has value has a cost. Cost is not something to be avoided, but it is something to be counted.
In modern life, it is common practice to ‘outsource’ for most of our daily needs. How many of us sew our own clothes, grow our own veggies, grind our own flour, bake our own bread or service our own cars?
Many people who have the opportunity and the inclination will take back some of these responsibilities and use their own resources, to ‘insource’.
Not every person has the time or the skills to insource any or many of these activities, but there is a certain satisfaction that comes with growing your own, baking your own, making your own, or maintaining your own.
Homeschooling – Insourcing Education
What may be surprising is that a growing number of parents have decided to apply this to their own children: to insource education and raise their very own crop of home grown students.
In 2014, there were 12,784 students registered for homeschooling in Australia, with Queensland accounting for 1,379 of them.
Why would anyone want to do that? Isn’t that the school’s job? Well, aren’t fresh vegetables the farmer’s job, or making bread the baker’s job? Whose job is it to teach how to tie shoelaces, or how to eat and dress, or the difference between right and wrong?
All parents will insource some of these responsibilities, but is there a firm limit of where the parent’s responsibilities end and paid “experts” must take over? In regard to education, our Western culture has long conditioned us that others will “take care of that”.
Even though some people still say, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly teach my children,” it is becoming increasingly clear from observing parents that do, that anyone can – thanks to the myriad resources and networks around. There are many benefits and reasons for stepping out in this way, and few homeschooled graduates look back and wish they had spent their time in school.
The big question really is, however, “Do I want to?” The fact is, even though almost anybody can, there are some important things to consider first, to determine whether the benefit exceeds the cost.
10 Things worth thinking about if you are considering homeschooling:
1. Homeschool Commitment
This journey takes commitment. It is not something you do half-heartedly. It is an extension of parenting; so, just as you diligently look after your child’s health, when homeschooling you will look after their learning as well.
2. Do I Have Time?
It is important to know that if you take on homeschooling, you need to be available for your child all the time. When they are at home, you are at home. When you go out, they’re with you on excursion. A parent who works away from home on weekdays cannot homeschool; however, a parent with a family business or part time weekend work may be available.
3. What is the Homeschool Programme like?
There is a wealth of resources available, and even homeschool support providers to help plot and maintain your course. Remember also, every activity and family discussion becomes part of your child’s curriculum.
4. United goals
Do you have support from your child’s other parent? Homeschooling is a way of life, and so is best embraced by both parents. If your partner is not on board with you, are you prepared to carry the full load yourself?
5. Legal requirements
In Queensland, homeschooling is perfectly legal. The registering body is the Qld Government Home Education Unit (HEU). A yearly plan and progress report is required for each child. Some homeschool support providers can assist you in preparing for this process.
6. Social Networking
School is not the only opportunity for children to socialise, and arguably not the best. Siblings, extended families, neighbourhood children, church, clubs and other opportunities abound, with the advantage that your children may still be under your supervision and care. What opportunities do you have available for your child?
7. External resistance or pressure
Are you equipped to argue your reasons for homeschooling? This may not seem like much of a cost, but you need to face the fact that once you embark on a course that few if any of your friends or family have taken, you may find you have to defend your position.
8. Financial costs
As a rule, the main homeschooling parent cannot work full time. While home businesses or part time work may help, you need to be prepared to choose educating your child or children over and above earning an income. Of course, with the hidden costs of sending children to school, you may well come out in front!
The daily routine of homeschooling, especially if working with more than one child or if you have infants or toddlers as well, requires a balance of planning and flexibility. Set times and allocated load sharing tasks and responsibilities may be vital to running a smooth homeschool.
10. Reinventing the wheel
When doing something different from those around us, we often feel like we are the only ones ever to have taken this journey. Don’t worry, when it comes to homeschooling there are thousands of parents who have walked the path and that path is now smooth and wide. You don’t have to look far outside your circle to find others who can share their experience and ideas, making your task just that little bit easier.
Why homeschool? Reasons held for homeschooling include:
- The academic advantage of meeting the child at their level and allowing progression at their own pace, with individual attention;
- Concern about what is being taught;
- Concern about how things are taught;
- Ability to more closely monitor social interaction and peer pressure;
- Elimination of the need for long distance travel;
- Significant relief from the financial burden associated with private schooling;
- Reduction of the stress and anxiety often associated with heavy work load and homework pressure;
- Protection of family values and relationships.
The question of how to best educate one’s children is surely one of the most important considerations a parent will face. There are so many things to think about, and ultimately we all want the best opportunities for our children in the workplace, in further studies and in society.
Personally, we embraced homeschooling as the answer to all of the questions we had silently asked as soon as our firstborn arrived.
That was 29 years ago, and we have raised and homeschooled 4 children, and never looked back. We have met hundreds of other parents who were also homeschooling their children, have encouraged many to do so, and have devoted our lives to assisting other parents in this endeavour.
Hundreds of homeschooled students have progressed on to university courses such as Law, Medicine, Nursing, Engineering, Teaching, Veterinary Science and every other university course or career you could name. Hundreds have moved into trades, traineeships, business, and self-employment.
There is no one size fits all in education, and no one pathway to the career of choice. But with homeschooling, a committed parent, and a willing student, there are no obstacles, only choices.
Contribution from Greg and April Simon of SouthEast Home Education.
This article was published in Issue 20 of our print magazine, February/March 2017.