I used to be one of those people who was highly sceptical about the benefits of home schooling. How could a home education be superior to an education provided by people who have spent years learning and honing their profession ? Didn’t only whacko’s home school, those anti-vaxxer types, the hippies, and radical religious types? Honestly, all the people I had previously known who had home schooled their children were a bit whacko, not actually real bright, and had some weird ideas about things. Not to say they weren’t nice people, heck, they were people I was friends with, but it seemed their decisions to home school weren’t exactly wise ones.
Then, along came Covid, and I was suddenly thrust into effectively home schooling, albeit with work provided by the school. Then, I realised, that this wasn’t exactly a difficult thing, and I actually thought what was coming home was actually a little lacking. It was actually made far more complex and perplexing than need be. And, they didn’t seem to have it together, constantly changing the delivery, it started with one App, then they decided to do it through another, as well as a thick wad of pre-printed work sheets, which forced a lot of parents to have to go and purchase things like tablets (because some of the Apps didn’t work on a desk top computer), and it was just constantly changing. Then you were expected to sign in on certain days to do a virtual classroom thing, with video conferencing programs, which required the exact right set up (which many just didn’t have) and thus meant that either you had no sound, no picture or……….well, it was just a shambles and didn’t achieve anything much at all. The teachers didn’t even understand the programs being used, which created half the problem.
Anyhow, I will say, the whole shambolic mess did make me aware of useful resources, and as time progressed, it became obvious what I would need to do. We couldn’t risk my son contracting Covid at school then bringing it home, it was too dangerous for the others in the house. So, once they decided to return to school based learning, rather than home learning, I opted to get fully registered to home school. It wasn’t actually that big a deal. Yes, you had to submit a list of curriculum aligned plans as to what you would teach for the 12 months, and it took me about 12 hours over 1 weekend to get that all typed out, and then I submitted it. it was obvious that it was Okay, because once the teaching outline was reviewed, we got the okay, and were now registered.
I went ahead and found a supplier of work books that were aligned to the Australian Curriculum, (Pascal Press is who I found to have the best resources, and no, they aren’t paying me to advertise for them), and then I decided to back this up with Studyladder, (again, they are not paying me) who provide more curriculum aligned work, and this effectively means that the paper based work he does is then reinforced and his knowledge tested, as he works on this independently on his tablet. He has to achieve 80% or greater in each activity to pass it, and so far, out of the more than 400 activities across all subject areas, he has completed over 300, since the beginning of June. Those 400 activities were the total of the activities he was required to do in 12 months, and he is on track to completing those in just 6 months.
His grandma does a lot of the literacy work with him, I do all the maths, science and social studies (geography, history, that sort of thing) work with him. Today, because grandma was feeling too tired, after about 4 months of not doing any reading with him, I did it, and I am astonished by his progress. We have gone from a child who struggled even with the basic words 6 months ago, to a child who is approaching the reading level he should be for his age. He was really fluent, and barely struggled at all, ‘carnivore’ just slipped out as though he had been reading for years, and even other fairly complex words just flowed. For 3 years at school, reading had been a big issue. Now, in just six months of home schooling, we are well on our way to a proficient reader. I believe, that a big part of this, is the individual attention he has had, and being able to have that has meant that we have adapted our strategies when we have worked out what was causing the difficulties. I am really proud of my son, and super proud of my mum, who has managed to get him so far in such a short time.
With all his other subjects, which he has always excelled in academically, he is now working at a higher level than his grade level. He is constrained by the slowest kid in the class, he can step ahead with work, if he understands the concepts, and wants to learn at a higher level, he can. Just yesterday, we were watching a science lesson designed for junior secondary students, and he totally understood what was going on. I mean, he is year 4 level, and junior secondary is still 3 years away !!!!
Anyhow, there have been multiple benefits to the whole thing. I am running around in the car less. It is actually cheaper, believe it or not ( all the workbooks and the subscription for the Studyladder App work out at around $200 per annum, school books and uniforms were well over $300 per annum) and we can work on our own time frame, like this morning, he worked on Studyladder from 6am to 8am, of his own accord, well before school would have started if he was going to a traditional school, and by 11 am, he will have finished everything for the day that he is required for a days work.
So, I am a sceptic, who is sceptical no more, when it comes to home schooling. It works, and it works well.