As the time to send BallinaGirl to school approaches, we are beginning to look more towards homeschooling. Our favourite school is too far away to be fisable for us to drive to daily, and public transport to it is only available if we drive further than the school is. There are some other options around, but financially, they will blow a big hole in our budget. Which brings us back to homeschooling.
The idea can seem a bit daunting, particularly since we will have a baby in the mix by the time our homeschooling adventure will officially start (cannot register children until the age of 6, but you can start the registration process 3 months before their 6th birthday, as the Board of Studies NSW (BOSNSW) advises it takes approximately 3 months for applications to be approved). To be honest, I had been toying with the idea for a while. I can really appreciate the ideals of unschooling, particularly in the early years. But there are lots of ways to homeschool, and luckily we live in an area where there is a community of homeschooling families – we’ve even had two national natural learning conferences held in our area (pity I missed both of them). And with support, and a community getting together and having group activities together, it can be really easy, maybe even easier than sending the kids to school!
If you are looking to start homeschooling, I suggest looking in to any local groups that are in your area. This will help you find support and more information on how to register and what is required in your area. You can also visit Home Education Australia (HEA) for more information about starting up, and the BOSTES (NSW) has a registration information pack you can read through too. The Educating Parent, is a really good place to start too, Beverley Paine has worked really hard collating lots of useful resources as well as writing several books to help parents start on their homeschooling journey. She also has a Facebook support group, which is invaluable when looking to connect with other homeschooling families and ask for advice, as there is a huge variety of ways to homeschool. Beverly has been homeschooling since 1985, so is a wealth of knowledge and support, so much so that is talking at the next (2015) Natural Parenting & Natural Learning Conference (being run by Nurture Parenting Magazine).
Another place I found to help is TES Australia. It is a website designed for teachers, to find teaching resources (as well as advertising teaching jobs, and there is a forum also, but I use it for resource and teaching ideas) for free. Homeschooling parents can also register and gain access to a range of resources from preschool to the end of high school. It can give you topic ideas, and also printable work sheets, or cards, posters, etc. I also really like searching Teachers Pay Teachers for resources. Most of them are US based, but there are Australian suppliers in there too, and my children have always really liked the worksheets.
Writing plans, as well as keeping a record of your children are meeting the “required outcomes” is part of the home schooling journey too. The Education Deparment send out assessor so at times to ensure your children are meeting this outcomes, so to help you with writing them, you can find more details about them here, broken up in to stages.