school books

There is a distinction, and it can be a challenge to decide which route to take as there are advantages in both options.

Many (and it does feel like many) years ago when I made the choice to keep my children home, there was not a lot of options to achieve that legally.  In Queensland, the requirement was for the parent to be a registered teacher, or to have a registered teacher oversee your child’s learning, or to enroll in either of the two Christian distance ed. schools (both of which used the same curriculum) or the state school of distance ed.

The choices were hardly appealing.  Not being a registered teacher, and at that time not considering, in the light of some strong family opposition to homeschooling, the option of “flying under the radar” (that’s homeschooling without registering, for the benefit of any innocent folk who stumble upon this article), it came down to Christian or state distance ed.

Distance ed is useful in helping you establish routine and accountability in your school life.  It is also a comfort for new homeschooling families to know that they can call on a teacher at any time for help in planning, or in day to day school needs.

It offers the opportunity to attend on campus sports days, enter competitions, submit entries to the school newsletters and year book, attend presentation nights, school camps, and many of the aspects of school life you wonder as a homeschooler is it cruel to make your child miss out on.

Some children are motivated by receiving affirmation for their work from outside the home, and distance ed provides this.  It is also useful to have a report card to flash at concerned relatives, and a school name to drop when people get suspicious on seeing you at the shops in school hours and you explain that you homeschool (people always ask why they aren’t in school) as though you may just have your child chained in the basement at all times except grocery day.

Distance ed also provides you with recognizable school certificates on leaving, as well as saving you the trauma of working out if you are covering enough material in your studies.

The down side is that distance education providers are most particular to make a distinction between homeschooling; where the parent is entirely responsible for the child’s education, and distance education; where the school is entirely (from a legal perspective) responsible for the child’s education.

Being staffed with regular teachers also means there is no guarantee that you will not be asigned a teacher who thinks homeschoolers are the worst kind of freaky crazy – and shows it.  The school will also try to influence (or mandate) your curriculum choice to be the same as everyone elses, to make it easy for them to administrate.

The school will also endeavour to create a sense of school identity within the enrolled distance ed students. This may be a plus for some who homeschool for health reasons and would like to attend a school with all the trappings that go with school life.  Personally, my goal has been to foster a “family” identity, so I didn’t consider these benifits to be advantageous, though I can see how some might appreciate them.

While I have been preserved from some of the fads in homeschooling by going through distance ed, and have learned to maintain a fairly consistent academic environment, there are changes to distance education which are becoming more limiting of the freedoms that make homeschooling so delicious an option.

This year, in an act of uncharacteristic impulsiveness, I blew my first terms fees (for failing to give a terms notice) and cancelled my children’s enrollment with our D.E provider.

In real terms, that means that after months of planning and agonizing over my year eight student’s learning pathways for this year under the auspices of the school, I am back to the drawing board.  Not because I have to, but because I can.

Folks, it’s a heady feeling! 😀

And the truly beautiful part?  I now have an extra $600 per year to spend on books.

I could…

complete our Henty collection..

or

buy the best ever, so jolly good, bug identifying books..

or

go on some whizz bang field trips…

My options are a glorious treat to roll around in my mind and savour.

I have yet to experience the down side of enrolling in the home education unit as a registered homeschooler, (I’ll be back in a year or so to report) but for now, the Beyondbluestockings household is flying solo…..and loving it!

G.A. Henty


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