Welcome to the first post in the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Styles series!
Distance education and school at home are what most people picture when they think of homeschooling. Parent as teacher, kids sitting around the table doing worksheets, with set hours and curriculum. They both match school fairly closely, except the work is carried out at home.
Distance Education in Australia
Distance Education is popular in Australia due to our geographical remoteness. This is where a school provides the entire curriculum, and is responsible for the child’s learning. You are usually registered with a school as a distance education student, but not registered as homeschooling. The parent acts as the supervisor, ensuring the work is done and assisting if needed. There is typically a yearly fee, plus the cost of materials. Work may be sent out regularly (such as fortnightly) or in bundles (such as once per term). They usually provide teaching sessions via Skype or similar, and provide assistance to the parents. Some offer sports days, camps and other group activities, and award and graduation ceremonies.
School at Home (aka school in a box)
This is where you are registered to homeschool, but you purchase a full curriculum from a company. They may or may not provide the additional services of distance education. Registration is usually quite straightforward, as you are provided with the full curriculum, and many providers have good reputations with homeschooling authorities.
As you can see, both systems are similar. The parent acts as the teacher/supervisor, and the child does the work provided to them. You are required to stay to the schedule provided, and work adheres to the Australian National Curriculum.
The good points
- it can be easy for the beginner because it’s a familiar system
- the parent doesn’t have to plan curriculum, everything is provided and all you need to do is implement it
- if home education is temporary, such as taking a year off to travel, it meshes with school
- it provides structure and accountability. Work HAS to be done
- there is still some flexibility in delivering the materials, such as the time of day you do it, or which days you have off schoolwork
- if you lack confidence in your academic abilities it can be reassuring to know that there are others to help you
- if you’re worried about your children missing out on ‘school experiences’, such as camps, you will be able to access them
The not-so-good points
- it can be one of the most expensive methods
- there is little to no choice in the work being done
- it is a ‘one size fits all’ method, with little to no personalisation
- if travelling it can be difficult to receive and return work by post and make sure there is always internet and/or phone reception for teaching sessions.
- if a child doesn’t like it then implementing it can become traumatic and stressful for both of you, and cause conflict.
- spending time doing work that you find pointless interferes with other activities you could be doing
- some people complain that the workload is far higher than what would be received at school
In practice, school at home methods tend to be used as a bridge from school to homeschool. Parents who remove their child from school adopt a complete curriculum as the ‘easy’ way. Over time, as they become more knowledgeable, comfortable and confident with home education, they want to implement a more personalised method, and so switch to homeschooling using their own curriculum or method. Of course, this is just a generalisation, and many people are satisfied with school at home methods.
Public Distance Education Schools in Australia
You have to fulfil certain criteria in some states to be able to register in public distance education, such as travel, illness or remoteness. Here are the details by state.
Private Homeschool Providers in Australia
These are all religious providers, predominantly using the ACE curriculum.
School-in-a-Box Providers in Australia
Australia has limited numbers of these – if you know of any more please tell me so I can add them to the list.
Want to read more? Take a look at my Distance Education / School at Home board on Pinterest.