Feeling Overwhelmed? How to get your head straight as a home educator.

What if phonics is the way to go? This program says it is easy to teach but it is so expensive. But I am sure I don’t know what I am talking about. What if my 6 year old won’t be able to write an essay? What is unschooling anyway?  The dishes are not done, and the washing is getting smelly. The garden is overgrown. “Garden? I have a garden?”. 

Feeling overwhelmed about your choice to home educate your child? Let’s break that anxiety down and help put your issues back into perspective.

Here are a list of common issues that home educators in Australia face. Each area will be featured in future blogs and videos by Ed Consult:

  • Not knowing much about what a curriculum is, let alone how to implement the learning.
  • Confusion as to whether you need to follow a set of lesson plans at all
  • How will my child go to university without sitting the year 12 exams of all the other 17-18 years old around Australia?
  • How will my child socialise without school?
  • How can I teach my child if I have no experience as a teacher in a school?
  • My therapist for my child’s condition is questioning if I can provide a full educational experience.
  • Commentary from family or friends that you will ruin your child’s future by not including your child in an institutional school setting.

Be in the moment.

Too often as home educators and parents we exist in the future, planning and pressuring ourselves for the next contact with the state or territory education department or the future university graduation day with honours of our child, when they are just 6 years old. Bring your mind to the immediate present and stop drowning yourself in unnecessary future uncertainty. 

Bringing your attention to the moment everyday, even for just a minute can have profound changes on your concentration, resilience and stress levels. Put the baby in the bouncy, lock the dog in the other room, sit and close your eyes for one minute. 

Priorities, priorities.

Keep in mind you are not on display. You are in your home without an audience. You are in charge of your day, your child and a home education is a marathon with lots of rest breaks; not a sprint race.

Your priority is to help your child to be healthy, happy, life long learners, entering the world as creative problem solvers. Solving problems is the key to a happy life. How you get to that point requires many, many years. It is a skill that comes through experience and not a completed paid curriculum. 

Choose something, from somewhere and start. It doesn’t matter if the schedule you wrote with all the hopes of a new home educator, lay ignored on the floor. It doesn’t matter if the curriculum your bought is not being used (well it is an annoying waste of money, but you can always resell it). You have had your thinking time. What matters now is just choosing something to do and then doing it.

This learning activity may be a quick grammar lesson, a read aloud book, an art project, a movie session, a maths problem or a cuddle on the couch with a discussion on butterflies. Stop and be in the moment and your kids will begin to respond and peace will have a chance to descend upon your home. You will feel calmer, and more capable of thinking through where your child will go and how they are going to get there.

Start with the Australian Curriculum

If you want to have an idea of what is being taught in schools to help you frame the education that your child would have received in school, simply go to the Australian Curriculum and select the year level your child would have been assigned and read it. Go to this blog post to learn more about where to find the curriculum for your region.

In general, focus on reading, writing and arithmetic for the primary education years, and then in secondary levels focus on their interests and special skills to help them develop those skills. English is a focus for the whole of the child’s education, with maths, geography/history, and science as the core subjects. The other subject areas are at the child and educators’ discretion within the rules of your education region.

“Relax. Getting organised with homeschooling is not as important as you think it is. Relaxing, on the other hand, is more important than you know.”

Beverley Paine –

What about access to tertiary education for home educated kids?

Projecting forward to tertiary education while the child is 6 years old is a real concern for home educators and friends or family members who are not so sure about your choice to home educate. There will be extensive information supplied on this blog and through videos and extra page resources to put this concern to bed once and for all. Home educated kids have just as much access to tertiary education as a schooled child has. Subscribe to this blog to be fully informed.

What about socialisation?

Again do not concern yourself about socialisation. It is a myth that the only way to truly socialise a child is by placing them in a school 8.30 to 3.30, 5 days a week organised horizontally by age, religion, socio-economic status, or sex for 7-13 years with the same kids is the only way to successfully socialise a child. Home educated kids socialise in a vertical way with all ages, and with a broad spectrum of community members and of course their families in a far deeper and enduring way than their horizontally socialised cousins. Sign up to this blog to learn more about vertical socialisation.

Do I need to be a teacher to home educate in Australia?

You do not need to be a qualified teacher to home educate in Australia. The majority of subjects taught to budding teachers involve classroom management, cultural diversity, and education policy. What is useful is learning theory, and learning practices, which all home educators will observe over time and become proficient in developing for their own children. There is no point in wasting $20,000 on a degree for teaching our own children, however interestingly, there are many teachers who also home educate as shown in the survey by HEN in 2019. Click here for more information.

Managing doubt with family and professionals.

It can be really disheartening when you hear negative opinions from people you trust; you will be ruining your child’s future if you don’t send them to an institutional school, or that you are failing them in the management of their medical therapies if they are not left in the classroom settings.

These “well meaning” comments only come from ignorance, as those people only know the school route. They simply have no experience of just how valuable growing up as a home educated child can be. There has been fantastic research started by Susan Wight of the Home Education Network (HEN) called the Home Educated Alumni Project which follows the journeys of home educated kids into adulthood, tertiary study and professional careers in Australia. Again these topics will be discussed in future blog posts and videos, so do subscribe.

However ineffective you feel you are for your child’s education right now, it is worth a reminder that the 1 to 1 engagement that you can provide everyday is 20 to 30 times more than your child can reasonably expect to receive at school in the classroom. A little bit of attention goes a really long way. Now relax.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

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