More parents are choosing to home school their children – why?

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For some parents, home schooling helps to focus on a child’s individual needs, rather than just on grades. from www.shutterstock.com

More parents in New South Wales (NSW) are choosing to home school their child.

There are now around 10,000 registered children who are home schooled each year in Australia. In NSW, the number has increased by 10% in the last year – this follows the trend of the last few years.

It’s difficult to get a clear state-by-state picture of how home schooling varies across Australia because only NSW provides comprehensive data on this.

There is no legal requirement for parents and carers to inform the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) as to why they have chosen to home school.

Parents across Australia are required to register, but it is thought that over 50% don’t.

No formal support is provided for home schooling other than curriculum documents. But many home school groups are available to offer support.

The gender balance between home-schooled children is fairly equal, with just over 50% being male. But there is a slight increase in numbers of middle primary school children being home schooled. This suggests that some parents choose to home school after having allowed their children to experience formal education.

Reasons for home schooling

The reasons for home schooling are complex. Most who home school do it for ideological and philosophical reasons. This can include the belief that households provide a better environment for children to learn or that formal systems are unable or unwilling to meet the needs of children.

But the research shows that for 40% of households, we don’t know their reason for choosing to home school.

Those who home school argue that it allows a focus on individual student needs – rather than just on grades; offers flexibility in learning; provides a safer learning environment; increases sociability with mixed-aged people, whether in the community or through extended family members and friends; and that this makes home schooling a better choice.

The arguments against home schooling are that it isolates children; means children are usually taught by someone who is not trained to teach; and can limit educational attainment.

But the research on home schooling is neutral; the findings neither confirm nor disprove any such claims.

Home-schooled children appear to do neither worse nor better than those who attend regular school. Their achievements and success after Year 12 are similar. And many home school parents are trained teachers.

However, the data recognises that not all children after Year 10 can be tracked as there is no requirement to register for home schooling after this point.

Many home school parents also choose for their children not to participate in standardised tests, such as NAPLAN, and therefore comparative data is inconclusive.

If home schooling is undertaken in Years 11 and 12, students can complete Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams to receive an ATAR but, due to the internal mark requirement, may not receive an actual HSC certificate.

Rise of home schooling in NSW

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