This post aims to answer the questions we get asked most, “Can I home school my child? Is it legal? Do I need a degree?” by briefly explaining the registration details by state, and the different home education options each Australian family has.
Home education is legal in every state in Australia, although each state has their own variation of registration and reporting requirements. The parents do not need to have attained a certain level of education in order to home educate. We often get asked if it is free to homeschool and technically it is, as there is no fee to home educate (unless parents choose Distance Education, then they do pay the provider) but there is also no current monetary supplementation or bonuses from the government paid to Australian parents in order to help them purchase resources or supplies. Electing to home educate is a valid legal alternative for every family in Australia and there are several different ways that this can happen.
Overall, there are three options to choose from when deciding to home educate and I will provide a brief outline of the choices here. If any of these alternatives interest you, there is so much information available via blogs, Facebook groups and websites from real families who have walked this road before you, to help you make a more considered decision.
The Home Education options available in Australia include –
1. Distance Education through an accredited Distance Ed provider.
2. Traditional Homeschooling whereby the parent either creates their own eclectic curriculum or purchases a curriculum to follow.
3. Unschooling/Natural Learning whereby the family follows no set curriculum and chooses to learn from every day life.
In Australia, there are a number of Distance Education providers and this has traditionally been the main method of education for Australian children who lived too far from school or had no local school in the area. Now, anyone can choose to use this option and many families who are taking children out of school prefer it as it allows them to have their child at home while keeping the child learning at a similar pace as school.
There is a fee that is paid to the provider and they send the family the relevant books and resources. The child has access to a teacher online and there are assignments and often requisite activities such as physical education that needs to be outsourced for the child. This link lists the available distance education providers by state, although many of them are higher education/university providers so you will need to look through to find the ones who offer primary or secondary distance education options.
Traditional Homeschooling with a bought or self-created Curriculum
This option involves the family choosing to homeschool either working within the boundaries of a select method of home education eg Montessori, Steiner/Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Charlotte Mason (there are many more) or the parent may choose to create their own curriculum with set times for formal study of subjects such as English, Maths, Science, and possibly outsourcing classes for Arts and Physical Education and other areas of interest. Workbooks are often involved depending on the style chosen, as this gives a more concrete understanding for the parent of how much information the child has absorbed.
The main component all of these varying homeschool choices have in common, is that they have a pre-determined view of how to educate a child and there is a system in how that looks day to day. The parent takes on the role of teacher and the child the student. For some families choosing this option, homeschooling looks very flexible and eclectic as they pick and choose from the variety of methods on offer in order to indvidualise it to their child and family. And for other families homeschooling looks very structured with specific books, guides and resources used to convey the information deemed necessary for that age group or grade according to their chosen home education method.
Unschooling/Natural Learning/Life Learning all basically come down to one thing – a child learning through everyday life with the enthusiastic support of their parents. Unschooled families choose not to use or create their own curriculum, so there are no set times for different subjects or areas of learning. Unschoolers believe children innately understand how to learn from the opportunities life naturally offers, and the parents choosing this lifestyle trust that process to occur. Parents have often gone through a period of Deschooling in order to see how learning continually happens without the structure of school, and children grow feeling confident in their individuality and challenge themselves in their own ways to constantly evolve and learn.
The Legalities – Home Education Requirements by State
I have compiled a list of links to each states Home Education Unit or Registration Board. When you click on the state you will be taken to a new window listing the information that each state offers parents wanting to home educate. Every state has different requirements and some states have very in-depth protocols while others only require a form to be signed. If you’re having difficulty understanding the requirements or how they will fit into your chosen homeschooling method/style, I would strongly recommend joining a support group on Facebook or in real life for your area, and getting to know the parents who have successfully navigated that process.
Queensland Home Education Unit
New South Wales Board of Studies
Victoria Registrations and Qualifications Authority
Australian Capital Territory Education and Training Directorate
Northern Territory Department of Education
South Australia Education, Skills and Learning
Western Australia Department of Education
Tasmania Home Education Advisory Council
Many parents choosing to home educate are surprised to know that anyone can easily access the Australian Curriculum online and view the different subject areas and projects that are undertaken in each year of traditional schooling. If you scroll to the bottom of the link you can choose to look at the Curriculum by either age level or subject area depending on your needs, and each area should have some real life examples for you to peruse as well.
I hope this overview has been helpful. I thought I would leave you with a list of homeschooling and unschooling blogs that I personally know and that you may find inspirational.
Racheous – Lovable Learning
Happiness is Here
An Everyday Story
Suzie’s Home Education Ideas
Happy Whimsical Hearts
Forever Finding Out
The Path Less Taken
And of course here is a link to How We Decided To Unschool and ALL our Unschooling posts so far.