According to a new report from ABC it’s estimated that over 50,000 children in Australia are being ‘illegally’ home schooled – i.e., they are not registered as being home schooled, but their parents are taking on the responsibility of educating them. Expats have traditionally led the way in terms of home schooling their children, but with the proliferation of Internet sites to assist parents, this education option is now being far more broadly embraced.
If you have children and you’re planning a new life abroad, one of your key reasons for doing so will probably be to give your family a better quality of life. And part of that is ensuring that your children are well educated and happy in their school life. Unfortunately however, not every town in the world is blessed with a good school!
Expats have the option of schooling their children locally of course, or choosing an international or private school option – or even sending their child away to a boarding school. But for those who want to keep their family unit together and who want to ensure that their children receive the most appropriate education, home schooling is an option really worth exploring. If you’re initially put off by various prejudices or issues that surround this education option, allow us to dispel those myths and show you where to start…
Who Home Schools and Why?
When asked about why they choose to home school, the expatriates and locals living in Australia who are registered with the state advised that the main reasons for them choosing this path were either philosophical beliefs, and/or the fact that local schooling options were not up to scratch. (In terms of defining ‘philosophical beliefs’ in this context, a great deal usually comes down to parents wanting far less governmental interference in the way their children are brought up.)
In America these are also frequently given responses from home-schooling parents too – i.e., that the local schools are not good enough and/or the parents distrust the authorities so much that they do not want them having undue influence over their children when they are growing up…
For expats however, the reasons behind choosing the home schooling path can be much simpler – i.e., the local education options are not suitable for expat children. This could be because standards differ greatly, the curriculum followed is not suitable for the expat child in question, it could be as a result of language or cultural barriers, affordability, the ‘wrong’ subjects being offered, bullying…
The list is really endless! And if you’re reading this report you probably have your very own personal concerns about why perhaps the local education environment in your new nation is not suitable for your child.
The good news is that home schooling is now a far more widely accepted option for all parents in nations around the world…with the Internet having bridged the massive acceptability gap that previously existed as well as enabling parents to access the resources they need to teach their own children.
Home Schooling Options for Expats
Nowadays home school teachers can follow a variety of programs and curriculum thanks to the Internet, and testing and exams, standards and even monitoring performance can all be made easily possible.
Parents who choose to educate their children can also hook up with others who have chosen the same path, and likewise, children who are being educated outside of school can use the Internet to interact with their peers who are experiencing the same education options.
Your choice of the curriculum and methods you use will be a very personal one, dictated by your beliefs and the importance you place on the different subject areas. Your choices may also be directed by your individual child…
So the best way to begin researching your options is either with a detailed Internet search, or by speaking to other home schoolers and even the local education authorities in your new nation.
Any feedback and advice from those personally experienced with home schooling will be invaluable to you, and help you see that you’re absolutely NOT alone even if you do choose this option – which has traditionally been viewed as an isolating option.
You can choose a curriculum with a religious bent, a philosophical angle, a weighting on arts, humanities, sciences or specific languages perhaps…and you may be swayed by cost, the quality of any qualifications your child may gain and the overall accreditation of the course.
Top Tips to Keep in Mind When Choosing the Home Schooling Path
You’ll be given plenty of guidance if you choose to follow a set path or curriculum, and certainly other home schooling parents who you connect with will be more than happy to share the benefits of their own experiences…but some key points to get your started include the following: -
- Ensure that your child is comfortable with the concept of home schooling. Talk through any expectations or concerns they may have. Typical worries include being cut off from their peers or being regarded as ‘odd’ by those who are traditionally schooled! And the most typical misconception that children have is that home schooling is a walk in the park! They need to know that expectations in terms of performance or application to their studies exist…you may need to define these.
- Be aware of your own educational short falls! For example, perhaps you excel at languages and arts but your science and maths knowledge is limited. In knowing where your weaknesses lie you will be more acutely aware if there exists a requirement for you to call in teaching assistance from someone else.
- Be organised and disciplined – you will need to set aside time, energy and focus to prepare lessons, to teach, to assess work and to complete any necessary paperwork etc., that forms part of the curriculum you follow. Do not underestimate how much of your day will be taken up with schooling – after all, a teacher works full-time at their job! Just because you have fewer students doesn’t mean you have to put in less work.
- Ensure you find ways for your child to mix in person with their peers – this is absolutely critical for their social development and their emotional wellbeing. You may hate the local school environment, but you will have to find ways for your child to meet and interact with others…and ultimately to make friends and forge bonds.
- Think beyond the curriculum about the experiences you can expose your child to to advance and improve their development and prospects. For example, take them on cultural trips to the theatre and art galleries, expose them to different forms of live music, find out about having older children embark upon a work placement, and encourage learning away from just the traditional schoolbook process.
Home schooling is not an easy option – but sometimes it really is the best option. Whether you have specific beliefs that lead you to follow this education path, or you’re an expat struggling with the school system in your new nation, you need to know that you are certainly not alone.
Thank God for the Internet – because it enables you to find the right curriculum to follow, it enables you to hook up with professionals in the education industry as well as other parents who are choosing to home school, and it lets your child reach out and connect with other children who are also being taught from home.
If you’re already teaching your children at home or you’re currently embarking on all your research and planning, we’d love to hear your home schooling stories and tips – feel free to comment below and share with other Shelter Offshore readers.