What is Home Education?
Home education is a legal, valid and (we think) excellent educational choice. It is available in New Zealand to parents or caregivers who wish to assume the primary responsibility for the education of one or more of their children. Each child must have an exemption under section 21 of the Education Act 1989 or be expecting an exemption in the future i.e. a child under six.
Why choose to educate your child at home?
Whatever their motives or orientations, home educators generally agree that their approach to education is superior to other alternatives in at least four areas (based on an excerpt from ‘Homeschooling for Excellence — by David and Micki Colfax):
A. Home education allows parents and children to exercise control over:
- Content — What your child is taught.
Home educators in New Zealand are not required to follow the National Curriculum. Parents may choose to buy pre-packaged curriculum, or to create their own. There is an enormous range of resources available, both within New Zealand and overseas.
- Method — How your child is taught.
Home educators are able to choose the teaching methods that best suit their child’s individual personality, interests and learning style.
- Timing — When your child is taught.
Children learn best when they are intellectually, emotionally and socially ready to learn. Home education allows parents to regulate the flow of information, and the timing of what is taught and when.
- Personnel — Who teaches your child.
Home educators are able to choose their child’s tutors, be it themselves or other paid professionals within their community.
B. Home education is more efficient than most forms of formal education.
Due to the one to one ratio of parent to child, i.e. the traditional ‘tutorial style’ of education, formal education at home is usually easily completed with a few focused hours each day leaving ample time for individual pursuits, socialising with friends or accessing educational opportunities available within the wider community.
C. Home education encourages autonomy.
The home educating child can become educationally autonomous by being allowed to learn in their own way, at their own pace, pursuing their own interests or goals and thereby taking much of the responsibility for their own education.
D. Home education promotes creativity.
The home educating child generally has the freedom to explore their own creativity by being allowed to invest large blocks of uninterrupted time to devise their own projects and follow these through to completion.
What about socialisation?
Most home educators regard ‘socialisation’ as a non-issue. In the Auckland region, from Warkworth to Pukekohe, there are over 1000 home educated children of all ages and over 20 different home educators’ support groups, each with their own unique flavour.
Home educated children are not isolated in the home but fully integrated into their community; often attending a multiplicity of classes such as swimming, art, music or dance, as well as local sports clubs, girl guides, explorers etc.
ERO reviewers and MoE officials have consistently told us that, on the whole, home educated students often mix with a very wide range of people and that the “myth” of socialisation remains exactly that.
Is it expensive?
The commitment to home educate usually means that families are only able to have one parent in the full time workforce, the other needing to be at home to supervise the children so, yes, there is a financial sacrifice to be made. However, many parents have managed to work or study part time and continue to home educate successfully.
The Ministry of Education provides a small amount of assistance in the form of an annual ‘supervisory allowance’ of $743 for the first child, $632 for the second, $521 for the third, and $372 for each child after that. This is paid retrospectively, in two instalments each year, in May and November.
There are ways to reduce costs such as forming a co-op or using the library where possible. Resources can often be bought second hand or accessed via the internet. Ultimately, your family can choose to control how costly the exercise of home educating is, based on your own priorities.
There are also savings to be made when homeschooling. There are no school fees to pay, no constant fundraising costs, no uniform costs, lunch at home is cheaper than packed lunches, and much more.
Overseas studies also show that student academic outcomes are not affected by how much money is spent on homeschooling.
How can I teach if I don’t have any teaching qualifications?
Overseas studies have shown that the parent’s own level of schooling has virtually no bearing on the outcome of the student. The parent’s drive and commitment has far greater consequences. There has been an explosion in home-schooling resources over the last 20 years and no end of curricula to inspire and educate. There are plenty of resources to help home-educators, and the parents’ understanding of their child’s own particular needs and interests is hugely beneficial for the child.
What do I use? What resources are there?
There are no specific resources that you have to use. As a home-educator it is up to you to choose how you will homeschool and what you will use. You may choose to use workbooks for maths and real life experiences to teach science. You may choose to buy an all-in-one curriculum or to mix and match. There are hundreds of options available – many of them available in NZ and many more from Australia, America, and elsewhere.
Once you have an exemption you are eligible for the (free) Ministry of Education’s curriculum guides which are used by teachers in our schools.
Check out our curriculum suppliers page.
Do you have to be super-organised or super-patient to homeschool?
Basic organisation, in general, will help things run smoothly but the main thing is to expect your homeschooling life to be a reflection of the rest of your life. If you are typically organised, your homeschooling is likely to continue in that vein. If not, well, welcome to the life of most homeschoolers! As for patience, if this were a prerequisite, most of us would be disqualified! The main things are to be committed to what you are doing, know why you are doing it and ensure you have a good support network.
Can I educate a gifted child at home?
Home education provides parents with the flexibility to tailor their child’s education to suit his/her unique interests and learning style. Homeschooling is an excellent option for gifted children as it allows them to advance at an appropriate rate for their learning.
Home educating families in Auckland can supplement their child’s education at home by using the services of organisations such as the Auckland Explorers club, which gives parent support and organises regular activities for gifted children.
But my child has ADD/Asperger’s. Is it possible for me to successfully educate a child with these issues?
Many people come into homeschooling specifically because their children do have special needs of some sort including ADD, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Dyslexia, Auditory Processing problems, to name but a few. In a supportive environment, that is moving at the child’s pace, it is amazing how much progress such children make.
What about secondary education?
Education at secondary level is certainly achievable via homeschooling. Some families elect to use local high schools for secondary education but many continue on at home. Home educating at secondary level does bring new challenges and requires a new level of commitment and academic input. However, this input can be augmented by accessing the skills of other parents, using paid tutors, or buying pre-packaged curriculum from a variety of sources in New Zealand and overseas. Examples include New Zealand Te Kura (formerly the NZ Correspondence School) and ‘A.C.E.’ (Christian curriculum from the U.S.A but available locally). Home educated students are also able to sit Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) as ‘Private Candidates’. For more information see our Teens Page.
What about qualifications/University Entrance?
- NCEA qualifications
- Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
- Discretionary Entrance
- ACE Certificate, SATs (American exams), or other recognised certificates
Portfolio — students have been known to approach admissions officers with a portfolio of work. AHE does not recommend this approach for Auckland University in particular as they have indicated they do not look favourably on it. Other Universities may differ so you need to check with your chosen University well ahead of time to see what the requirements are.
20+ entrance. Generally universities waive the usual requirements when a student turns 20.
The good news is that choosing to home educate doesn’t mean your child will be disadvantaged when it comes to sitting exams or gaining university entrance.
Can I get a National Student Number (NSN) for my child?
When a child is enrolled at school or receives an exemption to allow homeschooling, they are entered on the National Register. If your child is doing a course that could gain them credits, the organisation providing the course usually contacts NZQA to obtain your child’s number (if you don’t already know what it is). If you want to obtain the number yourself, you can phone NZQA in Wellington and ask for the number yourself. It is unusual for a parent to make a direct request to NZQA so you may need to explain the situation to them before they release the number.
Do home-educators have ERO Reviews?
‘The Education Review Office (ERO) is the Government department which reports on the education of students in the school and early childhood sectors, as well as on the education of exempted children’. The automatic ERO visits to home educated children are no longer undertaken. ERO inspectors only visit those children who are referred to them through other agencies. This is unlikely to ever happen for the vast majority of homeschoolers.