Worried About Getting Approval to Home Educate
Beverley Paine, July 20o6
"A friend of ours had trouble obtaining approval to homeschool and we're worried about applying now." John
There is no reason why a sound learning program, adequate resources and a busy social life wouldn't satisfy any educational authority. Some families, however, do experience problems. I hear that families with children with special needs are often targetted, or made to jump through more hoops than others. Some families enrolled in Christian correspondence courses also experience problems.
When I began homeschooling a lovely homeschooling lady told me not to take no for an answer, but continue to negotiate, asking 'what else do you need' until we got approval. I've seen this work many times here in South Australia.
I'm convinced the best way to go, with children who have not yet started school and aren't being pulled from school, is for the family to simply get on with the business of homeschooling. If the law requires an approval process the time to worry about that is when the child approaches compulsory school age. Before then I'd focus on building my confidence by having an excellent educational program that served my children's individual needs and by documenting their progress. I'd be ready to defend our home educating practice in a positive and assertive way, but I wouldn't worry about it. It may never happen!
It is important to read and understand copies of the relevant Acts and Regulations and read them carefully, and if necessary, obtain a legal opinion. That's the only way to be completely sure of your legal rights and responsibilities. Home educators can only share their experiences and as everyone's circumstances are different there is bound to be considerable variance in the outcomes. What works for one family in the way of preparation and paperwork may not be sufficient for another during the application process.
"I've asked lots of people and read lots of information and we've taken our child out of school and have heard nothing, nothing at all... I think that is what is making me nervous. I don't know if we're doing the right thing, taking the right approach." Carla
Why are you nervous? Me, I used to feel nervous in situations like this because I was afraid someone in authority would 'tell me off'. I automatically reverted to thinking like a child, in fear of being chastised by some grown-up, like Mum or teacher or preacher... I'd been trained and brainwashed to think like this all my life. It's a hard habit to break.
I used to believe that information was power (so the myth goes), but it ain't. Action is power. Information is just the primer. It's no good having information if we don't act on it - that is, experiment a little and see what happens. This means taking responsibility for our actions, which means taking the position of authority upon ourselves. This builds confidence. Rely on other people for information and action and we lose the opportunity to become fully responsible, and thus the opportunity to experience that thrill of self confidence that wipes away our nervousness!
I always said to myself - 'what's the worse case scenario? - what can they really do to me?' and then worked to prevent that, after doing a reality/paranoia check. Then I'd find information to help me and take appropriate action.
It's good to hear all the differing opinions, but sometimes this pathway can lead to becoming overwhelmed. I avoid this by asking myself - 'what do I want?' and tailoring the incoming information and experiences to build toward achieving that goal, discarding distracting information.
I've taken heart over the years that I'm the only person that knows what I want, and that the answers are actually already inside my head, if only I'd stop to listen carefully! Once I work out what it is I want to do, or need to do, the rest simply falls into place.
I find it's too easy to be distracted by the thoughts and opinions of others, who all want me to be just like them. (I know, because I want everyone to be more like me!)
Trust in yourself, your decisions. You've put a lot of thought into this, gone over it very carefully. Back yourself! Be the person who champions you: in the way that you champion your child, champion yourself! If you can't let go of those insecurities (and it can be hard) set them to one side and turn the volume down on them and practice your assertiveness skills, or simply pretend you are assertive - that works too!
If you need more encouragement or information about how to record and evaluate your child's learning, or how to write your own learning plan tailored to your child's learning and developmental needs, check out those sections of my website, or purchase one of my books from Always Learning Books. My Natural Learning Diary might provide you with a starting place to build your confidence during these early months.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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