A Typical Conversation

Questions I’ve been asked.  Responses I sometimes would like to have given (SA) and responses I have actually given (A).

Q: So, do you work?

A: I home school my children.

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Q: Home schooling?  What’s that?

A: My children don’t go to school.  I teach them at home.

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Q: What, all of them?

A: Yes, all of them.

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Q: Is that legal?

SA: If it were illegal, I would not be here telling you about it now, would I?

A: Home schooling is legal all over Australia.  In fact, the state I am in has the most lenient home schooling laws in the country. Up until couple of years ago, one did not even have to tell anyone of one’s decision to home school.  One just went ahead and did it.  Now, there is a requirement to register.  Yes, my children are registered.

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Q: Are you a teacher?

SA: I just told you, I teach my children at home. So, yes, I am a teacher.  I hope you weren’t questioning my ability to teach my own children.

A: One does not need a teacher’s qualification to teach one’s own children.

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Q: Does the government send you the materials?

SA: I wish!

A: No, the government does not send me any materials. I look for and buy the books/materials myself.

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Q: How do you know what to teach?

A: There are many, many home school curriculum suppliers out there.  I just looked on the internet and found one which I felt would be a good fit for our family.

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Q: Do you give your children tests?

A: Not usually.

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Q: How do you know what your children are learning? 

SA: Do you know what your children are learning in school?  I dare say I know more about what my children are learning than the average parent who sends his/her children to school.

A: Since my children are with me and I am their teacher, I think I have a fair idea of what they are learning and how well they understand the material.

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Q: What about socialisation? Or, How do they make friends? 

A: My children are involved in a multitude of activities: Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Ballet, Jazz, Gymnastics, Swimming, Youth Group, Little Athletics.

We used to also meet up with other home schoolers for play dates and an activity, eg, Science experiments and/or Art.

Comment: All home schooling parents will ultimately come across this question. Interestingly, this question most comes up at…social events!!  There you are with other parents watching your children play sports (or whatever), and these parents wonder about socialisation opportunities.  It’s a bit baffling.

This question is SO common that there has been only one occasion where I wasn’t asked about socialisation.  The woman I was talking with asked all sorts of questions but not this one. I kept waiting and waiting for her to ask it, but she never did.  Finally, when it seemed that she had exhausted all her questions, I could not contain myself any longer and said, ‘You know, most people ask about socialisation, but I notice that you didn’t bring it up.’  She gave me a puzzled look and said, ‘It’s built in!’

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Q: What would you do if your children asked to go to school?

SA: What would you do if your children asked to be home schooled?

A: I would tell them that according to the laws of the state, it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are educated.  For the moment, we believe that home schooling is the best option and they have to respect our decision.

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Q: I wouldn’t have the patience.  My children don’t listen to me. (Not really questions, I know.)

Comment: I have heard/seen the following response to the above:

* Sending your children off to school won’t help you get more patience, or make your children more obedient, because you will have to deal with it when they are home.

I am not a fan of the above response because I know how hard parenting can be and I am far from perfect. So, I usually just say

A: I am not very patient either.  My children don’t always listen to me either.  But, we keep going and we keep trying.

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Q: How long do you plan to home school?

A: We’re taking it one year at a time.  Possibly all the way to the end of high school.

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Q:  What about science?

A: Home schoolers can do science at home.  There are materials and equipment one can buy. Alternatively, one can also enrol part time at the local high school if one is so inclined. (This would apply for other subjects too, not just science.)

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Q: What about university?

A: Home schooled students can and do enter university. They can either sit for exams, or they can enter via an alternative route.  Universities are becoming more and more open and welcoming to home schooled students.

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Q:  What made you decide to home school?

A: (Answers will vary) 😉  I knew people at our church who home schooled and decided to try it out for a year. At the end of that first year, I decided that home schooling is a good idea.  Oh, and I didn’t have a driver’s licence at the time, so I thought that home schooling would be more convenient, too.  🙂

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Q: So, you don’t work?

A: Home schooling my children is my full-time job.

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Posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2012, in Home Schooling. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “Q: Are you a teacher?

    SA: I just told you, I teach my children at home. So, yes, I am a teacher. I hope you weren’t questioning my ability to teach my own children.

    A: One does not need a teacher’s qualification to teach one’s own children.”

    I was meaning to come back and comment on this one, in a couple of respects. I have a lot of professional educators in my family . . . wife, sister, mother, and a whole host of relatives fanning out and further back. So I have a little bit of an insider’s view to the education and training school teachers go through, at least here in the states.

    The methods work they go through in order to learn the most effective mechanisms for conveying knowledge to children is extensive and detailed. It is way more than simply knowing the material. As a homeschooling mother you have certain advantages most public school teachers do not–very small class size, intimately familiar with your students, the ability to be flexible regarding curriculum, and not having to be held back in teaching the best students due to the lowest achieving students.

    But I suspect people asking the question have a couple of different and legitimate points. The first has to do with the subject matter. One thing that most professional teachers are is very familiar with the subject matters they teach. That’s difficult for home school parents who, for as long as they home school, have to be generalists. The other has to do with methods, as mentioned above.

    Which is all not to say that home school parents who are not teachers by education and classroom experience are inept or unable, only that the road is more challenging. At worst you see parents whose ability to teach their own children *should* be questioned.

    I think there could be a more nuanced answer here, acknowledging the large amounts of school and ongoing education that professional teachers must master to be proficient at their craft while also highlighting the efforts you have made to replicate effective teaching methods and maybe what home schooling resources are available for those purposes.

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  2. Thanks for this detailed response, hktelemacher!

    I have a lot of teachers in my family, too. Both my parents taught at different levels of education, but for many years at the university level. So, they have expressed some of their concerns about my ability and capability to teach.

    ‘As a homeschooling mother you have certain advantages most public school teachers do not–very small class size, intimately familiar with your students, the ability to be flexible regarding curriculum, and not having to be held back in teaching the best students due to the lowest achieving students.’

    This is a very good list of the advantages of home schooling which I believe many of my ‘colleagues’ would whole-heartedly agree with.

    As for not being intimately familiar with the subject matter and thus giving their children a more general-type of education, or that there are some parents who really should not home school, I couldn’t agree more. This is where I think ‘out-sourcing’ comes in. Parents send their children for music lessons, sports, etc. Some home schooling parents recognise their child’s aptitude for a certain subject and send that child off to a place where he/she can receive better instruction.

    “I think there could be a more nuanced answer here, acknowledging the large amounts of school and ongoing education that professional teachers must master to be proficient at their craft while also highlighting the efforts you have made to replicate effective teaching methods and maybe what home schooling resources are available for those purposes.”

    Thanks. I will flesh out that answer more.

    Like

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