Student Achievement and Educator Perceptions

It is very difficult in Australia to set up strong statistically based studies about home education in any area.  This is due primarily to the problem of a difficult to identify population of home educators in Australia and the difficulty of random access to representative population samples.  As a result, our ability to analyse the characteristics of home educated students and their outcomes can be difficult.  At times like this, it can be helpful to consider research from overseas.

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We analyse home education research from overseas as it is difficult to identify population of home educators in Australia.

Students in Higher Education and Tertiary Admissions Officers.

Over the last few years, researchers in the US have been able to identify some persistent findings about home educator outcomes with a little more clarity than we have here.  One recent project re-examined home educated students access to institutions of higher learning and the attitudes of admission officers of those institutions and compared findings with an earlier and similar study reported in 2004 (Gloeckner & Jones 2013).  It was found that all the recent studies showed that home educated students were achieving well in institutions of higher learning.  Their survey of admissions officers also revealed that the majority of admissions officers thought home educated students were likely to do well, and that they expected retention rates to be high.  About 1/3 of admissions officers thought socialisation, was the one area of concern, that it might be an issue, did not know the answer to that question or just bypassed this question.

SAT Results and State Regulation

A second study indicating home educated students have done well academically in SAT tests was conducted by Brian Ray, a leading advocate of home education in the US and Bruce Eagleson.  On request to the organisers of the SAT, they were provided with some average scores of students who had identified themselves as home educated students.  They had no way of knowing for how long had been engaged in home education and what type of home education these students had followed.  Of particular interest were their findings comparing the results of these students to the degree of regulation found in the states they came from.  Interestingly there was no significant statistical difference between home educated student performance and state regulation.  To emphasise their findings, they identified that in every instance, students achieved lower SAT test scores when they came from those states where there was the highest regulation.

Conclusion

It would be great to have this kind of data in Australia.  When the findings of the Australian research is synthesised, we know that home educated students are entering tertiary institutions and are achieving great results.  As yet there has been no comparison of the type of regulation expected by the various states and student achievements, but we could expect that results would probably be fairly similar. The reason we could expect such a finding is that students who are learning through their passion for particular topics are more likely to have the time and interest to pursue those interests with a great degree of application.

Working Towards Better Outcomes

When our state regulators and those responsible for overseeing home education practices in official capacities are more informed of current research findings here in Australia and overseas, they should be able to better work with and compliment the successful outcomes known to be achieved by home educated students.

 

References:

Gaither, M., (2013).  Review of ‘Reflections on a Decade of Changes:  Higher Education and Home schooling’, ICHER blog.  

Gaither, M., (2013).  Review of ‘State Regulation of Homeschooling and SAT Scores:  Is There a Relationship?  ICHER blog.

Summary of Australian Home Education Research

What is the research in 2013 revealing about home education?

This year, a meta analysis of home education research as been published by two US academics – Robert Kunzman and Milton Gaither.  Most of the research conducted and reviewed is from the US, but some work from other countries has been included. They found that most research around the world was qualitative in nature and while they saw a need for more quantitative research, recognised that the often hidden nature of the home education population made this type of research difficult.

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Topics overviewed included: 

Home educator demographics:

  • numbers
  • characteristics
  • parent educational levels
  • parent motivations
  • special needs as a concern for more than 1/5th of families.

POINT OF INTEREST
It is acknowledged that many parents are concerned for their own children’s particular needs.

Curricula and practice

  • idealogues vs/and pedagogues
  • school like to unschooling
  • curriculum packages
  • importance of networks and age of children in home education.

POINT OF INTEREST
Of particular interest is the typical trend by parents to move to less formal programs over time.

Academic achievement

  • on pro home education surveys and their limitations

POINT OF INTEREST
The general findings indicate that home educated students generally do well in language and the humanities but often under achieve in mathematics – particularly those using an unstructured/unschooling approach.

Research was also done on socialisation, which two main components – social interaction and values formation:

Social Interaction

POINTS OF INTEREST
Home education in general does not disadvantage children socially.
Greater acceptance of home education as a legitimate option

There is a growing recognition that home education generally does not disadvantage children socially and that it may encourage ‘a strong sense of independence and self-determination’ (p20) and less dependence on peer relationships, although a few can experience greater isolation.  There is also a great acceptance by professional medical literature to see home education as ‘a legitimate educational option’ (p21).

Socialisation as Values Formation

Where the focus of theorists has been on children’s ‘autonomy, religious inculcation, and preparation for democratic citizenship’ (p21). 

POINTS OF INTEREST
Empirical studies show no statistical difference in children’s religious behaviour and commitments whether home educated or not. 

This research shows that home educated students in the US are more likely to vote and be engaged voluntarily in civic activities.

Laws and homeschooling in the US vary between states,

Relationships between home educators and public school vary between states in the US and even between districts.  The rise of the internet as an educational tool has encouraged some collaboration between schools and home educators. Scholars may see these changes as threatening to the ‘civic mission of common schooling’ (p29) or as a healthy move to reconnect private and public spaces.

Transition of home educated students into tertiary institutions and adulthood

POINTS OF INTEREST
Possible struggle with writing research papers but catch up quickly.
Adult home educated students could have lower SAT scores – an area for further research

Most studies show little difference between home educated students and others in their ease of transition into tertiary institutions.  There is some evidence that home educated students could struggle with writing research papers once in tertiary but often catch up quite quickly.  Home educated students also tend to be more stable in their religious and political positions than others. 

One area for further research is of adult home educated students’ outcomes. One study found that adult home educated students could have lower SAT scores and more regularly enter less academically prestigious institutions than peers. These students also ‘reported at a higher rates feelings of helplessness about life and lack of goals and direction’ (p31).

Internationally, home education is recognised as a growing phenomenon around the world

The conclusion recommended that government policy be informed by meaningful and careful research, and not be directed by advocacy groups or developed as knee jerk reactions to isolated anecdotes.  As yet, we still do not really know what an ‘average’ home educated student is.  Research on home education will continue to grow and home education will continue to challenge perceptions of conventional schooling, education and family.

For the Home Educating Parent

Parents home educating or considering home education can be assured that home education is a legal and worthwhile alternative educational pathway that can support healthy personal and social outcomes. 

TIP FOR SUCCESS
To ensure children are able to have access to the best educational and life pathways, it appears to be important to ensure students are provided with strong mathematical programs, and connection with healthy social alternatives.

 

Reference

Kunzman, R. and M. Gaither (2013). “Homeschooling:  A Comprehensive Survey of the Research.” Other Education:  The Journal of Educational Alternatives 2 (2013)(1): 4-59.

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Project-based Learning and Home Education

Project based learning is a very meaningful way to learn, particularly when learning at home. 

Lori Pickert has recently published a book, ‘Project-Based Homeschooling – mentoring, self-directed learners’.  She explains how project based learning can work – for traditional structured curriculum programs, for eclectic curriculum users and particularly for natural learners.

A Way to Live and Learn

Lori Pickert states that her book is not about giving a ‘recipe’ for how to do home schooling or project based learning. It is really an attitude to life learning. She provides strategies to help children become focused and self managed learners through the use of project-based learning.  This type of learning is about ‘moving beyond knowledge and skills and probing underneath for the machinery of learning’ (p7).  It is not about facts, but about enabling a person to want to learn and how they can best be supported doing what they want to do and discover.

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Benefits of Project-Based Learning

Some of the benefits of project-based learning include:

  • The child learns what they want to learn – so there is no power struggle about doing work,
  •  The child’s interests determine and drive the focus of the learning activity,
  • Activities are individualised to student interests and needs,
  • Creativity and enthusiasm for learning are inherently encouraged,
  • Opportunities for careful and thoughtful reflection are part of the process,
  • Project learning develops a foundation for student ‘motives, habits and attitudes of thinking and learning’ to develop (p10),
  • Students develop ‘a meaningful and rigorous’ approach to learning (p11).
  • Among different ways to learn, project-based learning is one sound way to promote critical thinking habits.
  • Meaningful assessment by the student about their own learning and goals for further learning experiences.

Parents Role

The role of parents in project-based learning is as a mentor, resource manager and encourager.  When exploring suitable topics for project-based learning, Lori Pickert suggests parents carefully consider current student interests.  To avoid superficial topics, she suggested parents follow their children for a period of time and take notes on the kinds of things they are interested in. From these notes, it is more likely that a meaningful project topic will become evident.

Ongoing Parental Support

Once the project is underway, it is a good idea for the parent to make particular time to work with and along side the student on a regular basis. In this way, the parent can direct students to possible resources and encourage reflective thinking about what has been covered and new directions the project could go in.

The Book – ‘Project-Based Homeschooling – Mentoring, Self-Directed Learners’

imageLori Pickert’s book is easy to read, provides a reasoned framework for using the project approach to learning.  It also outlines sound and down to earth practical approaches to ensure the best use of time, effort and meaningful learning experiences. Find out more about Lori Pickert.

Buy book online at booko.com.au – postage is free!

 

 

 

To find out how you can create the best homeschool for your children visit www.aheas.com.au

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References

  1. Pickert, L. (2012). Project-Based Homeschooling – Mentoring, Self-Directed Learners. USA, Lori McWilliam Pickert.

Students’ Perspectives of Home Education

What are the benefits of home schooling your children according to their perscpective? The following blog explores a doctoral thesis by Carson to help you make an informed decision on homeschooling.

Locating easily accessible research on home education is not always easy and any research in Australia on home education is still quite limited.  Translating research from other countries to Australia can also be problematic.  We do know that parent reasons for home educating in Australia are more likely to be about what parents see as the needs of their particular child rather than the ideology (religious) or pedagogical reasons so often cited in much of the research literature coming out of the USA, for example.  This focus also translates into interpretations of other home educating factors.

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Homeschool Research Report from USA

A doctoral thesis report, ‘Homeschoolers Perspectives on Homeschooling’, completed in 2009 and published in 2011 provides a quantitative and qualitative look at how three groups of students, public school (81), private school (38) and home educated (12), viewed their social experiences.  Students were from middle to secondary school age.  Carson, acknowledged important limitations of her study.  It was based on self-reporting and the sample sizes and ideology background were limiting factors to how this information could be generalised to other situations.  For example, the home educated and private school students appeared to all be from Christian backgrounds.  With this in mind, here is the feedback from homeschooled children:

  • Her home educating students gave similar reasons to being home educated as parents had previously reported in earlier research.  She thought the most likely reason for this was that the students had heard their parents and internalised their ideas.
  • Home educated students had a more positive view of their learning environment than their public schooled peers.  The suggested explanation for this was that both home educated and private school students knew they could access an alternative educational option if necessary, unlike their public school peers.  This positive view of one’s learning environment was important because a student’s view of their learning enviroment also contributed to their social competence and behaviour in the learning environment.
  • Home educated students indicated they were as socially competent as their public and private schooled peers.  Connection was made to other research linking social competence to achievement levels, competence at work, engagement in extracurricular activities, self-worth, and mental health.
  • Home educated students also saw themselves as more self-sufficient than their public and private school peers.   This meant they were more likely to engage in problem solving than their peers.

Research sheds a positive light on home schooling

These findings are encouraging for those considering the home education option. The quantitative aspect of this study has not been conducted in Australia, so we do not know how home educated students would fare in a similar study here.  The more qualitative studies on student attitudes and experiences conducted in Australia do indicate that these findings would be generally transferrable to Australian home educated students.  We know that those students who have been involved in home education research would report the following perspectives:

  • student reasons for valuing home education may overlap with those of their parents, but may include other factors, not always recognised by parents.
  • appreciation for their one-on-one learning experience
  • ability to organise their own timetable and even curriculum topics
  • the opportunity to pursue particular interests meaningfully
  • opportunity to connect learning experiences to real life situations and contexts
  • recognition that they can choose to change their learning environment and attend mainstream institutions.
  • value learning in ways they felt most comfortable
  • appreciation of their social connections with same aged peers and others from older and younger ages groups – something they noted their mainstreamed peers were less likely to recognise or appreciate.

How to broaden your child’s opportunities in homeschool

It is a good idea for parents to recognise that some students, particularly older ones, may feel they need access to experts in particular subject areas, connection with similar aged peers for social reasons especially if living in isolated places or who have moved into new localities where they know few people.  Secondary students also appreciate opportunities to engage in discussions and interactive learning opportunities with peers and teachers.  Thoughtful home educating parents can find ways to ensure these types of opportunities exist within their programs.  Interactions with mainstream institutions can also be another option to consider.

To find out how you can create the best homeschool for your children visit www.aheas.com.au

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Receive a 30 minute personal consultation with Dr Glenda Jackson to discuss how you can broaden the opportunities for your children in a homeschooling environment.
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*This offer is available to people in Australia.

 

References:

Carson, O. (2009). Homeschoolers Perspectives on Homeschooling. Newberg, Oregon, George Fox University. Doctor of Psychology:54.

Summary of Australian Research on Home Education

What is Unschooling

Media gain interest in unschooling

Recently a representative of one of the Australian media outlets asked a number of Australian home education leaders about ‘unschooling’ and how ‘natural learning’ worked. 

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Research shows that ‘unlearning’ philosophy has been part of the Australian home education culture from as early as the 1980s.  A visit to Australia by John Holt in 1981 encouraged this movement.  While there are purists who believe that children should totally direct their own learning, there are other interpretations as to what unlearning also means.  It is possible to use an unlearning philosophy while using a more eclectic approach, and it can also be evident in student attitudes when in mainstream institutions. Most Australian research has consistently shown that home educating families regularly move to less formal approaches in the programs over time. The reasons given for this shift to less formal curriculum focus on the ability of home education to adjust to and make the most of student interests and motivation.

Carlo Ricci uncovers the benefits of unschooling

Recently, Carlo Ricci, a Canadian academic with a keen interest in encouraging democratic involvement and editor of the ‘Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning’ published a book titled: ‘The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction.’  He interviewed a number of well known unlearning and alternative educational speakers about their views of unlearning.  His intentions was to explore their interpretations and observations about what an ‘unlearning’ philosophy of education might look like. His interviewees included John Gatto, Pat Farenga, Kellie Rolstad, Jerry Mintz, Ron Miller and Mathew Davis.  His findings should encourage people wanting to know more about unlearning or natural learning to think about how they might use an unlearning philosophy of education, even if children are in formal education.

What Is unschooling?

Foremost in an unlearning philosophy of education, is the idea that learning is ‘autonomous, self-directed’ and engaging.  ‘Care, compassion, love, trust and respect’ are also central this approach.  Carlo Ricci discovered that his interviewees described unlearning from more than one perspective, but most of all the consensus was that this approach encouraged the learner to be in control of their own learning and life experiences.  Although unlearning is a critique of mainstream culture, the act of learning is a natural part of human activity, and as such does not require management or control.

UNLEARNING IS about freedom to learn in keeping with one’s interests, and this will include seeking assistance and resources from others.

When learning about the world the learner is encouraged to see and practice a ‘give and take’ attitude in the learning experience, especially with their carers.  Most of all, unlearning encourages the learner to become intrinsically motivated, to exercise initiative, pursue passions and be self-determining (p7,27).

The many strengths of unlearning

The strengths of unlearning become more evident when contrasted with typical mainstream education practices and experiences.  Because Ricci’s interviewees highlighted a number of different qualities, it became apparent that unlearning philosophy is not just a specific concept, but one that allows a variety of interpretations and approaches.

Benefits of unlearning:

  • promotes learner directed investigation – of oneself, neighbourhood, and community, including history – in keeping with one’s interest
  • allows learners to learn differently and uniquely, according to one’s abilities and interests
  • supports connectedness with family and community
  • involves others, especially parents who are able to support and provide resources as needed
  • encourages interests to grow in any direction within a flexible curriculum
  • is naturally customised around student interests

Limitations of unlearning

Concerns about the potential limitations of unlearning practices include:

  • the potential to only be directed by the self in an unbalanced way while ignoring the history and experience of more informed others, and the broader community and world
  • a possible balance problem between freedom and structure
  • pursuing the individual and unique to the exclusion of the broader community, society and the world
  • possibly missing out on the social benefits of connecting with others, not necessarily just same aged peers
  • too much adult focus on the child encouraging ‘me’ attitudes to the exclusion of ‘other’, particularly family and community
  • so much independence, dynamic engagement in community and willingness to challenge and question that main streamers might find confronting
  •  the need for the development of personal balance shifting from parent to child
  • unlearning is not for everyone, for a variety of reasons
  • some minority children and economically challenged people sometimes need to learn the language of power most easily learnt in institutions – again it is about balance
  • need to ensure that parental and adult attitudes and values of trust and respect are modeled to children so they learn about ‘honour, respect, and dignity’ (p43-55)

This is a very brief overview of unlearning philosophy of education Whatever approach a home educator takes when planning their homeschool program, be aware of opportunities to work with student interests.

Encourage students to be involved when designing learning programs. This will encourage their:

  • engagement
  • motivation
  • autonomy
  • self-direction

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For more information on homeschooling, visit www.aheas.com.au

References and Connections:

A copy of one of John Holt’s Australian lectures is available for purchase through the Victorian Home Education Network.

Ricci, C. (2012). The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction. Toronto, Ricci Publishing.

Summary of Australian Home Education Research

Unschooling philosophy is supported by most Australian networks.  The best known long term supporter of the unlearning approach is Bev Paine.

When, Why and How to Use Home Education

Main Reasons Parent Home Educate Children

There are two main reasons Australian parents have given researchers for choosing to educate children at home.  Firstly, there are those parents who choose to home educate children at home as a continuation of their pre school interactions with their children, or for idealogical values the family holds important.  These families generally see the practice of home education as a continuation of close family ties and real life learning opportunities.

When Children are in School Already

The second group of parents have usually placed their children in school with the intention of leaving them there for the duration of compulsory education.  However, events and circumstances change and these parents decide, again for a wide range of reasons, that their children would benefit from an alternative educational program provided at home.  Many times these parents only plan to home educate children until they have bypassed the issue or issues that lead to the decision to home educate.  However, many of these parents often discover their children are learning more effectively at home and are more content and intrinsically motivated to learn and decide to continue home education indefinitely.  Whether parents choose to temporarily or more permanently educate children at home, these programs can work well either way.

Reasons for Choosing Home Education over School

Reasons that might lead a parent with children in school to consider home education as an option, either temporarily or more permanently include:

  • Children unhappy and uncomfortable in school
  • Learning needs not met for individual children
  • Loss of motivation to learn or be interested in learning
  • Social issues, such as bullying or poor peer influences
  • Parental values not seen as upheld in the school context
  • Opportunities to learn in real life contexts that are meaningful for children outside of the school setting.

Some other reasons for choosing home education, especially on a short term basis, include:

  • Family touring holidays
  • Illness of a child
  • Families moving between states and overseas at awkward moments in the school calendar
  • Need or desire for time out to explore new knowledges and career opportunities unavailable in school.

How to Make the Most of Home Education

My research found that children, of all ages and stages of education, benefitted from their time doing home education,  whether long term or short term, and this is particularly true when the following things are considered:

  • Personally tailored curriculum to children’s needs and parental expectations
  • Opportunities made to connect learning to real life situations in ways that are relevant to individual children
  • Time and  space to back track learning to the point where children again understand and then move carefully forward when they have experienced learning difficulties in school without labeling or fear of failure
  • Opportunity taken to encourage advanced learning opportunities relevant to children’s interests unavailable in school settings
  • Encouragement of intrinsic motivation to learn by awareness and use of children’s interests
  • Development of children’s decision making and responsibility on both the small and large scale
  • Access to knowledgeable persons in the family circle and community who can encourage a child’s learning
  • Willingness by parents to learn flexibly along side children.

AHEAS – our role

To ensure these types of learning, there are a wide variety of home learning styles and and support groups which can provide help for parents navigating home education for the first time.  AHEAS provides professional and research based assistance with these types of decisions by considering individual needs in a personalised setting.

Visit our website at:  http://australianhomeeducation.com.au

School Refusal and the Home Education Option

Research on School Refusal Connected to Home Education

Finding research on school refusers who have used home education as a pathway to education is not easy.  Overseas, there is little readily available research and in Australia, there is nothing that specifically looks at school refusal and home education.  Most major Australian research has, however, acknowledged that some parents (roughly about half of all home educating parents) have removed students from regular schools to take up home education because there have been a variety of problems associated with schooling such as negative peers, bullying or mismatch of student needs with school practices.  In my own research, I met at least six male students who, because of learning giftedness or learning and/or social challenges, asked parents to take them out of school and take up home education, or who were so unhappy at school, parents removed them to educate them at home.  Some of these students completed their educational programs through home education, with some going on to tertiary institutions.  Others re-entered regular schools after a few years to complete their secondary education or went into employment or traineeships.  These students appreciated their home education experiences as these enabled them to further their education in keeping with their needs and gave them breathing space from the problems they had encountered while in school.  A few parents also spoke of removing children from mainstream institutions because their children were experiencing difficulties with regular school and were pleased with the change in their children’s attitudes towards learning once they were engaged in home education

Australasian Research

In Australia, a search for the term ‘school refusal’ or ‘school refuser’ with the terms ‘home education’ or ‘home schooling/homeschooling’ through the main Australian educational research engine (AEI) only located two papers.  The first of these references was to a journal article by Stroobant and Jones (2006) in New Zealand, and the other was to Stroobant’s (2006) doctoral thesis exploring school refusal in connection with home education in greater detail.

 

New Zealand Research

Emma Stroobant (2006, & Stroobant & Jones 2006), herself a former school refuser, conducted a small qualitative research project with seven former female school refusers who had then taken up home education.  All seven of these students were attending university as either undergraduate or post-graduate students at the time of her study.  As with any small scale research with limited numbers of participants, Stroobant recognised the limitations of transferring her findings to larger samples of school refusers.  However, there are some useful concepts we can consider from her work when considering meaningful alternatives to choose from when facing school refusal.  Home education was seen as a positive and meaningful educational alternative.

 

Professionals’ Perspective of ‘School Refusal’

‘School refuser’ is a term professionally used to define a student who appears to ‘dislike and fear school (or aspects of school) and persistently refuse to attend or attend very unwillingly’ (Stroobant & Jones, 2006, p. 210).  Because school attendance is thought to be normal she explained how professionals use this label to describe ‘problematic, maladaptive behaviour’ – along with other ‘psychiatric disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder and depression’ (Ibid).  School refusal is thought to worsen the longer the problem manifests itself.  Professionals work to desensitize students, and so options such as home education are rarely considered.  It is commonly thought some contributing pathological factors (because the problem is viewed as a disease) include undesirable family characteristics or hypersensitivity in the child.  It is easy to see why professionals might shy away from the home education option.

 

The Students’ Perspective of School Refusal

While Stroobant’s ( Stroobant & Jones 2006) students recognized they had been labeled with a problem, they tended to use ‘reverse discourse’ to reject the ‘powerless victim’ image they had been given and thought more of conquering or outwitting their diagnosis.  Instead, they thought of themselves in terms of being ‘more insightful, brave, open-minded, realistic or independent’ than their ‘normal’ school mates (Ibid, p.219).

 

Conclusion

These students demonstrated both resistance and compliance.  It was thought that if professionals had stopped viewing ‘school refusal’ in such a negative and disempowering manner, and as something more ‘rational, just, positive and insightful’, the outcome for students would have been much more positive (Ibid, p.222).    

 

The Home Education Connection

Professionals tended to view the practice of home education as much a problem as school refusal.  In practice, however, when these students started home education programs, their negative identity associated with the label of ‘school refuser’ was replaced by a more positive identity associated with being educated at home. When at home they were able to contribute to meaningful decisions about their own learning programs.  And even though their mothers often felt pressured to take up the home education option, they too were able to re-envision themselves in a more positive role as good parents providing a meaningful educational alternative for their children.  In this group of school refusers, the home education option provided a positive and meaningful solution to an otherwise negative problem.  These students were then able to rebuild their love of learning enough to succeed at a tertiary level.  While this may not be the result for all other school refusers, the home education option is seriously worth considering as a viable and legitimate educational alternative when school refusal is a problem for a child and family.

References

Visit our website at:  http://australianhomeeducation.com.au

Australian Research on Home Education Practices and the Goals of the National Curriculum

Australian Research on Home Education

Although Australian research on the academic outcomes of home educated students is limited, we do know students who experienced both home and school learning environments believed they learnt better while at home (Clery 1998, Harding 2006, Jackson 2007, 2009).  Education at home allows and often encourages children to develop independent learning habits, attempt their best and develop their own interests creatively and uniquely. 

Student views about learning at home

One Australian researcher (Reilly 2007) noticed home educated children with special needs experienced positive outcomes at home, which they had struggled to achieve when in schools. A few Australian research projects (Carins 2002,  Clery 1998, Jackson 2007, 2009) have explored student views and experiences of home education.  These studies generally found students believed their learning experiences at home helped them to develop confidence, independence and the ability to successfully engage in adult life. 

Developing ‘Informed Citizens’ through Home Education

Research from the United States suggests many home educated students are encouraged by families to actively engage in a broad range of political and civic activities.  As yet, there is no research to indicate how this might be gauged among Australian home educated students.  However, Barratt-Peacock (1997, 2003) described the connections between home educated students and various learning communities as authentic and set as real life situations.  One could expect families who interact with their local communities should be able to successfully encourage students to become active and informed citizens. 

From what we know of Australian home education practice, home educators’ programs generally support the achievement of most goals outlined in The Melbourne Declaration of the Educational Goals for Young Australians as expected by ACARA in the new National Curriculum.  An awareness of National expectations will allow home educators to make even more informed decisions about how they might include these goals in their programs.

References

Visit our website at:  http://australianhomeeducation.com.au

Developing Personal Beliefs and Goals for Home Education Programs

What to Consider When Developing Personal Goals

When working out the detail of one’s one beliefs about the purpose of education, in the setting of the family, you may wish to consider the following:

  • How you believe you and your children best learn,
  • The purpose for learning – long term goals,
  • Short term goals,
  • The values you want your children to achieve,
  • The identity you expect your children to develop,
  • The social experiences and connections important for you and your family,
  • Reasons you as parents are the most appropriate educators of your children,
  • Significance of the home environment to achieving your goals.

Factors contributing to Goals

How you believe you will achieve these goals may also help define your goals and reasons for your program.  Factors to include would be:

  • Family dynamics and cohesion,
  • Parent abilities and skills expected to contribute to student success,
  • Types of records and assessment practices to gauge success,
  • Awareness of and connection to new ideas and approaches.


Revisiting and Updating Goals

By taking some time to develop and regularly revisit your beliefs and goals, you can fine tuned your goals as family ideas about home education practices develop and children’s needs and interests evolve.


Visit our website at:  http://australianhomeeducation.com.au

Australian Home Education and National Goals in Education

Educational Directions used by ACARA in the National Curriculum

ACARA, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, used the goals outlined in ‘The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians‘  (2008) as the basis of its philosophical approach to education.  Every ten years, the Federal, State and Territory Ministers of Education sit down and list the philosophical and educational goals they consider are important for the next generation of Australians.

Goals of ‘The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians’

Two overarching goals describe the aims and directions expected of students and provide the guidelines educators are to use when developing their educational programs.

Goal One could be re-written for home educated students as:

    Australian homes promoting ‘equity and excellence’.

Goal Two could be re-written for home educated students as:

    Australian homes encouraging children to be:

  • ‘successful learners’
  • ‘confident and creative individuals – active and informed citizens’.

‘The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals …’ and Subject Knowledge

The Melbourne Declaration‘ expanded the intended meanings of these goals.  Apart from typical subjects provided in schools, students were expected to excel, be successful, confident individuals and active and informed citizens by also learning computer skills and becoming ‘Asia’ literate, because, as a nation, we are increasingly interacting with these countries.

Applications to Learning at Home

These goals can be achieved through a wide variety of educational approaches, and home education has the known advantage of being able to regularly provide individually tailored learning contexts and connect student learning to real world situations.  For those home educators seeking to develop links with the National Curriculum, it would be advisable to be aware of these goals and consider ways to develop these skills and attributes in students when developing programs of learning.


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