© Beverley Paine, 2009
Have you got any ideas or suggestions, or contacts with families who have 16 year old students considering completing their education other than through school successfully?
Thank you for your inquiry.
A good place to start is by reading Grace Llewellyn's book "The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life" as it is largely written by young people who decided to take responsibility for their education in a hands-on way. These young people, some in their early teens, worked out what they wanted to do and simply got on with it. Some travelled, some started businesses, some organised work experience and employment, many volunteered to gain experience within fields they cared passionately about, others designed their own learning programs and some negotiated pathways through tertiary education institutions.
Basically, Grace's message is that there is no need to treat adolescents like children - many are capable of embracing this transition to adult life in a mature and intelligent manner. All they need is permission and encouragement, together with some parental help as well as modelling of the skills needed to negotiate some of the hurdles adults face when planning a career change.
In addition to getting a copy of "The Teenage Liberation Handbook" (if you can't borrow one through an interlibrary loan, they are available from Grace from her website http://lowryhousepublishers.com ), have a read through Beverley's articles on homeschooling teenagers on her Homeschool Australia website: http://homeschoolaustralia.com/index/teenagehs.html . Beverley has also published the 3 year learning program she negotiated with her then 13 year old son http://homeschoolaustralia.com/articles/rogerscurriculum.html ; a list of topics and subjects that would be covered - this demonstrates an easy way to create a balanced education program which covers the necessities and reflects the student's interests. If you are an unschooling family, Sandra Dodd has an excellent collection of articles at http://www.sandradodd.com/teens/ . The Free Child website also has links to other sites regarding alternative educational pathways for young people: http://www.freechild.org/unschooling.htm .
Paul Reader, a homeschooling father of teenagers, wrote an excellent article for the 2009 HEA Resource Directory called "What Happens at the End of Homeschooling?" which covers different pathways to tertiary education. If you don't have a copy of the Resource Directory it is available from the HEA (for information on how to order please visit http://hea.asn.au/news_viewarticle.asp?id=234 ).
TAFE is a popular way for homeschoolers to build towards a university degree - spend some time wandering around the TAFE website for your state (type TAFE plus your state into any search engine). Adult distance education courses are another way to explore career options. Cengage is the main non-government distance education in Australia: http://www.cengage.edu.au/ . Open Universities Australia is the distance education arm of seven Australian universities that enable students to study one or more subjects at a time. Unlike other university courses undergraduate courses are open to all students and there is no entrance selection criteria; simply enroll and get started! All have bridging courses that cover the material needed to meet university level course requirements. Most bridging courses cover similar material to the senior years of high school.
It is also possible for students to apply for a position at University through the Special Admissions Test held towards the end of the year. It is best to research the course the student wishes to enroll in thoroughly and determine what prerequisites are needed in terms of knowledge and skills for successful entry.
TAFE, Business Colleges, private distance education providers and Adult High Schools also offer Year 11 and 12 by distance education, either via correspondence or online lessons.
Many homeschoolers and unschoolers have an idea of what they want to do at the age of 16 and are already organising work experience, volunteer or part time and casual work in their chosen field. Networking in your local community is invaluable: the adage 'it's not what you know, but who you know' is not only true but critical to advancement for young people. An advantage to this approach, often overlooked, is that young people stay in their communities, where they are likely to receive the most support and encouragement and are exposed to less stress while building skills and experience as young adults.
Janine Banks, a Queensland homeschooling mum with grown children, organises Camp With Wings each year for teenage homeschoolers and unschoolers: http://www.campwithwings.org/more/edge.html . The teenagers that have been to the camp keep in touch with each other.
Another way to keep in touch is through Aussie Homeschool Graduates http://aussiehomeschoolgraduates.org/ , a relative new forum started by unschooling graduate, Thomas Paine.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/parenting_hs_teens/ is a relatively small group for parents of home educated teens.
Be sure to offer feedback about your child's choices and progress to other home educators. It will help to build a body of knowledge that homeschooling families can refer to as they reach this phase. The HEA newsletter and Stepping Stones for Home Educators magazine is always keen to hear from homeschooling families about their experiences.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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