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What about University?

by Beverley Paine, Nov 1998

I am always astounded by how often I am asked the question,"What about university?", sometimes even by parents of preschool children. These questions come from parents interested in homeschooling their own children as well as those just interested in what we are doing with our own three. Most people don't realise that there are many paths to adult employment and career paths, and that tertiary education is as diverse as home education, and not restricted to education in institutions!

We have two older teenage children now. April chose to go to highschool part time from age thirteen, and completed her higher school certificate as a full time student. She plans to enter university soon, but these plans were only consolidated after she had finished highschool. As a part time employee in the community she knew that adult employment was not predicated on her school or education record, but on how she conducts herself and how she employs herself in the work force already.

Roger, now sixteen, has had an entirely different educational approach, generally following a very natural method of learning at home based on his interests and abilities. His activities have been wide and varied, responding to his immediate needs. This is in sharp contrast to his sister's education where her activities and curriculum were determined by strangers and was often unrelated to anything occuring in her private life.

As a result Roger has developed many practical skills helping his family in the work they do which for the most part has been landscape gardening. Getting out and working on jobs, and being paid for it, has been an important aspect of his education. In addition, Roger chose to undertake correspondence study in Personal Computer Repairs and Upgrade at the age of fourteen, achieving his Diploma shortly before his sixteenth birthday. Already Roger is picking up work in the local community upgrading and repairing computers and is considering starting a small business, under the mentorship of his father.

Accessing a correspondance course was only one way Roger could have gone to educate himself. He realised at the time that practical application of the skills he was learning was paramount to becoming a qualified technician and to achieving respect as a worker in his field. With his father's help, and his younger brother's as well, he immersed himself into the subject, really just a hobby, but one that he knew would have potential for employment in his early adult life.

The correspondance course also introduced Roger to structure and adult learning techniques and styles. It was self paced and work related. The payment plan was amenable to our budget. We could see that this course would offer Roger information and skills in an area of high interest to him. During the time he studied this course we introduced algebra and revised primary school mathematics, keeping in mind the requirements of tertiary institutions for engineering type courses, but not allowing those requirements to dominate the learning process. This is what happens in school classrooms at the teenage level - a focus on future learning needs, not present learning needs.

On reflection Roger learned far more from real life activity in his area of interest than he did from the course. But gaining a certificate, 'proof' of his ability has been useful in obtaining clients, and for this it is useful. Just as important as his computer studies Roger has found living a balanced life, and still being able to be 'just a kid' and have fun and 'play' for many hours a day essential to maintaining his interest.

One of the things we have learned over the years is not to hurry the children's education. It is not a race to reach year twelve or university. Or to move children into the adult work force. It is wonderful to observe the children easily mastering in later childhood things they would have struggled over in the early years. Protected from unnecessary peer group pressure to perform at an arbitrary level, all of my children are relatively happy with their own development, and provide themselves with real challenges to growth. Motivation and discipline to achieve comes from within, and is supported by all family members.

I believe our society is too paranoid about education, worrying about our children's futures unnecessarily - futures that are unpredictable at best. I love the confidence my children exude about their futures. They know, at 18, 16 and 12, that it is in their own hands. They also know that what they do this year may have no bearing on what they do in the year 2005! They live for each day and what it can bring. This is the greatest lesson parenting has taught me!

If home educators can learn to relax about, or release, this compulsion to worry about whether their children will be eligible for university or future employment opportunities, often a decade in advance, they will enjoy the learning process that unfolds at home far more!

"Senior High School is of no benefit to persons wishing to undertake TAFE levels I,II,III certificates. 63% of Uni students (1997) didn't have year 12. A person can enter tertiary education after year 9 through TAFE or other accredited private courses." Frank Marret

Secondary TAFE University
Year 9    
Year 10 Certificate I  
Year 11    
Year 12 Certificate II
  Certificate III
(Trade Certificate)
  Certificate IV
(Associate Diploma)


  Advanced Diploma Advanced Diploma
    Bachelor Degree
    Grad Certificate
    Grad Diploma

See also Australian Qualifications Framework


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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

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 supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since 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. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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