Deciding: Home or school?

Deciding whether home education is the right thing for you and your family involves much more than a reaction against school in general, a particular school, a particular teacher or a particular situation such as bullying.

There are so many reasons for home educating: being able to educate your children within the framework of your beliefs; increased family togetherness; providing individualized education for the particular needs of each child; providing a safe environment within which your child can learn about the world.

If you are considering home education as a long term lifestyle choice, it is important to think about a whole range of issues, and especially to think about positive aspects of home education rather than negative aspects of school.  Thinking about these things will help you decide, not just on whether or not to home educate, but also on how you will go about it.

The first things to consider are the beliefs and philosophy that you hold which affect education. These will include both the beliefs and philosophies held directly about education, but also may involve your beliefs and philosophy about life in general, such as your religious beliefs. What exactly do you think education is all about? Is it about training your child to be prepared for employment? Is it about teaching values? Is it about encouraging a passion for learning? Or something altogether different. Of course, it is probably a combination of many things, but before you decide on how your children are going to be educated, try to work out just what you think is important in education, and also, the order of priority of each idea.

Think about the things that matter most to you: religious, philosophical, educational, political, whatever, and consider how those beliefs are best fitted into your child’s life – school or home.

Think about who is going to have input into the decisions you make: if your children are to participate in the decision making process, how much will you take their point of view into consideration? If they say they want to go to school, how will you deal with that? What are your goals as a family? Who will be the primary caregiver / ‘teacher’? How will that affect your current income / division of labour / roles? How can the other partner practically support home education?

Having thought about all these issues (and more no doubt forgotten), you will be ready to think about the practical details of how you will teach your children. There are home educating families doing everything from school at home with packaged, minutely detailed curriculum, through to families who live lives where the learning is completely unplanned and unstructured (unschooling), and a multitude of choices in between. Explore the internet for different styles of home education; go along to home educators’ activities and talk to existing home educating parents about how they do it.

You might like to check out these media articles about home school:
2016 Stuff article about home school families in the Waikato
A secondary school teacher explains about home schooling in New Zealand

See our Get Started page for resources to help you begin home education.