Does Homeschooling Work For Teens?
© Beverley Paine
"I am writting to you to ask you for some information about homeschooling. My dad said before we decide on anything I have to get enough information to convince him why I should do homeschooling and what the advantages of my education being better are if I to learn from home and what the best homeschooling programe is to go with."
How and what you would like to learn is important in working out what kind of home educational program you wish to go with. It's up to you. Most home educating families write their own learning programs tailored to their children's learning styles and family preferences. For example, a musically talented child will focus on learning music, while still learning basic literacy and numeracy skills and aiming for good general knowledge and life skills. A young person interested in astronomy will design their learning program around maths and the sciences, while maintaining a relationship with the world of fiction, possibly through movies, tv and computer media instead of books...
I have some excellent books written for parents and teenagers about homeschooling that encourage both to consider education in a wider context than schools tend to - to embrace education as a life long pursuit not aimed at getting a job but at fulfilling one's potential in every direction. Look at my Always Learning Books website www.alwayslearningbooks.com.au and go to the pages for Homeschooling The Teen Years, Teenage Liberation Handbook and Guerrilla Learning to read reviews, contents lists, etc.
For a more schoolish approach to homeschooling, visit the websites of the homeschool suppliers on my Homeschool Australia website http://homeschoolaustralia.com You'll find them on my Favourite Links pages. While you are browsing the Homeschool Australia website check out the many articles on homeschooling teenagers on my Articles Index.
The other choice you have is to look into correspondence courses - you may be able to enrol in the state correspondence school - phone the education department in your state to obtain details and enrollment criteria. There are private correspondence schools that offer courses, especially post-compulsory school years such as the high school certificate or bridging courses. If you are over 15 you may consider TAFE as an option.
Does homeschooling work?
The number of research studies demonstrating the effectiveness of home learning for academic and social success increase each year. For many families the unintended outcomes far outweigh perceived academic benefits. These following homeschooling outcomes, combined from national and international research including John Peacock's major Australian study, The Why and How of Home Education in Australia , have been consistently listed:
- closer family relationships, with children playing a more positive and significant role in family life, and an emphasis on family making skills;
- parental personal fulfilment and increased learning opportunities for parents as well as children;
- greater understanding of personal responsibility;
- natural fostering of co-operative and team behaviours;
- an empowering process for both parents and children;
- greater freedom from arbitrary time limits such as terms and year levels to pursue educational activities and interests;
- increased opportunity for one to one interaction with more skilled peers or parents, which lead to cognitive challenges and gains;
- children are able to ask more questions, with more time allowed for answers to be found, leading to increased motivation for learning;
- children and parents engage in more complex language in the home learning environment compared with classroom settings, and this improves the intellectual and language development of children;
- children have been consistently shown to rate equal to or higher than average on standardised achievement tests in the USA ;
- home educated children's self concept has been shown to be significantly higher than schooled children, indicating that home education does not socially deprive children but produces socially well adjusted young people;
- children are less peer oriented;
- increased involvement in community activities;
- greater attainment of independent learning skills, self-motivation and organisational abilities.
Schools promise of these outcomes but fail to guarantees achievement for all students. Schools continue to fail students, citing many excuses - family problems, individual learning difficulties, lack of adequate resourcing, under-financing by funding bodies. Homeschooling families find failure an unacceptable outcome. The drive to succeed in the homeschooling endeavour is very high, with parents continuously searching for better and more successful methods, resources and outcomes. Unlike teachers, parents are directly accountable to the homeschooled student, in an immediate way, every day. Problems with education are not left to fester indefinitely. Homeschooling allows considerable flexibility in delivering excellence in education - flexibility schools can't match.
My own children, homeschooled since 1986, and now aged 24, 22 and 18, were allowed to follow their interests and participate fully in family life and activities, which included building, landscaping, running a small business, gardening, household chores, work experience, voluntary and paid employment during their teen years. At 24, April now manages a retail/service shop; at 22 Roger is employed and a landlord of two investment properties; at 18 Thomas manages my many websites and assists me in running Always Learning Books , as well as taking care of our menagerie of almost 100 furry and feathered pets! People often commented on how mature and sensible my children were as they were growing up, and find them respectful, cooperative, and knowlegable about a huge range of topics.
An 'alternative' education based on your personal and family interests, hobbies and passions is worth exploring - matching what and how and when you learn to your intrinsic motivation to learn, rather than jumping through arbitrary hoops to pass exams or land a job or place at university. Living life, rather than learning about it, is the best education to be had and has proved effective over millenia. You can still learn from books, do courses, and learn from teachers who are passionate about what they are doing. The difference is that you get to choose the quality of experience and materials... The learning resources available to you are infinite and amazing, starting with your local library and community.
Good luck on your life long educational journey!
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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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