Dear Premier,

In relation to the Regulations just released…

It is absolutely difficult for any one homeschool parent to write a submission to address these regulations. The reason for this is because every homeschool is extremely different. One homeschool’s motivations and vision can be completely different to another. The outcomes are different. However, I believe from what I have read from the Regulations, the outcomes you want for the children of Victoria are all the same.

You have stated that the reasons for the existence of these regulations are:

The Department considers the current regulatory approach for home schooling to be unable to adequately assure quality in the instruction or educational progress of home-schooled children. The Department has no workable mechanism to manage the risk of low-quality education for home schooling. For children missing out on a quality education during compulsory schooling years, efforts later in life to remedy this situation are likely to be costly, not as effective, and difficult.
Regulatory Impact Statement
Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017
Page 7

You have then stated that this ‘workable mechanism’ would be:

  • at the application stage, provide a learning plan that outlines how they will deliver instruction and what resources and materials they will use to cater for their child’s circumstances and learning needs
  • if selected, participate in a review that would involve providing evidence of their child’s learning progress, and possibly also undertake an interview with the regulator.

 

I have a few concerns.

PROBLEM 1: HAVING ONLY ONE PLAN AND STICKING TO IT. 

Please find attached the Plan I had a plan, you can see it here –> lee-academy-2017-curriculum-plan. I have worked on this plan for 2 years. I have done all the research possible to put this plan in place. All the curriculum and the way it will be delivered is in a previous blog of mine.

We began this curriculum about a week ago. It has been an off and on journey for us to see if homeschooling works.  And it most certainly does. And as much as you may think that the History element is too advanced, and the English element too much… it’s actually something else that my Mr. 6 doesn’t like…

Maths Worksheets.

See, what I have found with Mr. 6 is that he is not a fan of close ended question/answer type learning. He simply loses interest when a question is asked and there is only one answer. The shame put upon his face when he gets it wrong, the shutting down of any eagerness to try again and keep going… this kind of education for my son simply doesn’t work.

Now you may say that he has no choice, that in life, questions simply only have one answer, and he must learn to deal with this.

I want to expose you to another way to teach someone like my son.

He loves English, he loves History and he loves Science. Why? Because these subjects are taught through reading books together, then having a long conversation of what we have read, then allowing him to draw a picture of what he has just learnt.

See the reason why he loves this, is because I’ve been doing this with him, and my other two children, ever since they were very young. There is no wrong or right to your point of view. There is not wrong or right in having a conversation about a Historical fact, and asking probing questions.

Please see his work here. One of of the Greeks climbing the wall of Troy and failing badly (before that Horse), and another is of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth (with a tornado… don’t you love creativity).

So we have changed the plan yet again. I am now coming up with a brand new Maths plan that is done around conversations. Conversations where I sit with him and have a talk about times tables, numbers.

See the problem with submitting a plan, and then having to stick to it, is because homeschooling for me, is changing the way you teach so that your child doesn’t lose interest because of the delivery. If you then require new homeschool families to stick to the plan before they have even tried it out, it makes not sense because homeschooling is all about adapting to the child. 

PROBLEM 2: OUR CURRENT SCHOOLING SYSTEM and A RANKING SYSTEM

A lot of us are homeschooling because we believe the standardised schooling in public schools only allows children to have a question they must answer correctly. This is evident with Naplan, as well as the current VCE ATAR rating scale.

The problem is that not all children are the same. In my view, the only children that do extremely well in this system are the top 5% who achieve the mark they need to enter the course they want. So what do the other 95% do?

I for one, do not want my children to feel that their only reason for living is to get a high mark in Year 12 doing 6 subjects, to then be able to get into a good course, to then possibly have a good career. If what you mean by a ‘formal education’ you need each child to sit down and listen to a teacher for 13 years, learn the answers before they come up with the questions themselves, then this isn’t the type of education I personally want for my child. I will not be rushing my children from activity to activity, wake them up and rush them out the door to allow them to get a ‘quality education’.

I have nothing against teachers. Teachers have the hardest job and they have to each 25 children all with different ways of learning.

But I know that there is no one else in this world except for me and husband, who will sacrifice their world for these three children. If a curriculum doesn’t work, if a delivery method doesn’t work or if something seems uninteresting, it will be me who researches how to deliver it differently, it will be me who spends the money on extra curriculum and it will be me who takes it to heart if this does not work. I understand teachers do this too, that is why their job is so difficult. But will all teachers do this for MY child if my child simply learns differently.

I recently did enrol my Mr. 6 into Prep for next year, and I expressed to the school on how he learns, and whether something can be changed for him. He does not react well to testing, yet this school starts Term 1 off with a test. Their response was understanding however, they could not change anything.

So please don’t think there is no quality education here in our homeschool. We have put everything on the line for our children, we will sacrifice our careers, our lives and ourselves for our children. We have done the research and we have spent the money and the time. But most of all, you need to trust us with our children. Because no one on earth knows our children better than us. 

If the child was ranked for dance, and Victoria rated each child on how well they could dance, because this was the most popular university degree available, some children, would not fit in. I don’t understand how our current system cannot simply see that every person has different interests, goals and a rating system based on subjects cannot promote personal satisfaction in a career. Could this be the reason why so many people are unhappy in their careers? Just a thought.

WHAT THE REGULATIONS DO NOT ADDRESS

The Regulations do not address these current issues we in the homeschool community would like answers to.

  1. Why is it that a third world country is doing better in the ‘ranked’ educational stakes than Australia?
  2. Have you seen the average homeschool student’s rating compared to public school ratings (again, focusing on rankings, as per your Regulations, Naplan, ATAR). There are several articles on this, here is one.
  3. Your Regulations do not address issues such as mental health, depression amongst teens, family dis-connectivity etc.
    Even though we do not necessarily believe that public schooling has caused these issues, we believe that an environment where a family stays together, where a child feels safe and supported constantly, and yes, where we ‘shelter’ our children from some of the issues of society’s expectations, is an environment that promotes family belonging and better mental health. Why would we not want to teach our children at home, where they are able to ask any questions they like, and not feel any pressure that they simply can’t just be themselves.
  4. The Regulations do not address whether a formal education can promote family togetherness. Of course, the education system of Victoria is not responsible for this, the family is. And there you have the reason why we homeschool. We want our family to be together, to be connected.

 

We will do all we can to educate our children well. Please never think that we won’t, or can’t, just because we don’t have a formal teacher’s degree. Each family knows how their child learns, how they develop and what is best for them. Please trust us and leave this to us.

And if you are still concerned, here are a few pictures of my homeschool….

We have the books my kids freely access and read, as well as the books I read to them. We have the books I read, so they can actually witness what reading looks like, we have the weekly worksheets for Mr. 6 and Miss. 4 all ready and laid out for the year. Formal? Quality?

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How about this photo?

This is Mr. 6 as he is being homeschooled… in the car… on the way to Bunnings… And sure, you say that every family can get this… yes, but he gets this kind of happiness…. EVERY. DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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No regulation could ever document the happiness this boy contains in his heart because he feels safe to express himself, especially when something doesn’t sit well with him, like Maths worksheets.

 

Thank you for reading,

Yours sincerely,

Belinda

 

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