Do I have to register or follow a particular curriculum?
If only I had a penny for every time I’ve been asked this question.
In Australia, each state has different laws and different policies. I would encourage everyone to become familiar with their state’s laws and policies, so that they can make an informed decision, rather than a decision based on misinformation and fear. Personally, God is my highest authority and it is to Him that I am accountable. My children are individuals and the Course of Study that we have mapped out for each child is based on prayer, being open to the Holy Spirit and observing their lives, interests and talents. I would be quite worried if I had to pass someone else’s standard. I don’t think the issue is about whether or not my children would pass…it is that I don’t believe they should have to. Although I am probably a fairly free spirit and I often feel that as natural learners/Spirit-led learners we are relaxed in our home-based-learning, I am concerned about the educational standard of my children but not because I have to satisfy some external force… but because these children are my responsibility and I am accountable to God and to them! Deciding not to delegate the teaching of academics, rather to take on full responsibility for it was a HUGE decision… one that was not taken lightly. I am often on my knees before God… with respect to these young persons in my care… The last thing I need to do is to add to that by caring what someone outside of my family (who only has limited interest in my child) thinks or cares. My responsibility is to God, and not man.
Once I have delegated authority and responsibility to this other force/ system I am at their whim and mercy. This year it may be that they require me to tap dance… next year it may be jumping through hoops and the year after that it may be jump through hoops of fire! Who knows? The question is, in the long run who is responsible for the education of my children? The educational authorities or my husband and I? Why do I need to ask them for an opinion/permission?
What would I decide to do if the system was not happy with my endeavors at educating my children and ordered us to return them to a school where they must attend? What would our bottom line be? For us, it would go against our convictions to obey… so why would I ask them for permission in the first place if I don’t intend to respect and obey their decision?
If one decided NOT to abide by their decision and ended up in a court of law it could be argued that one delegated authority to the educational authorities by applying in the first place? one would be bound to obey. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t always suit each one’s thoughts or ideals, and just as ignorance is no excuse, neither is changing one?s mind when one decides that, (when it comes to interference in one’s chosen educational methods) enough is enough!
After obtaining legal advice, which if in doubt everyone should do, we wrote a letter to the SA Ed. Dept. years ago stating that we would never again ask for exemption of attendance from school or register because ‘they’ were not responsible for the education of our children and that we are. Of all our States & territories, only Victoria recognises that parents are fully responsible for the education of their children. All other states assume that the Minister for Education is responsible for the education of children. So, by applying for permission or registration we felt that we were actually agreeing with this situation!
We want the freedom to be able to raise our children, to educate them and care for them in every way (discipline, health, moral, emotional, etc). I think that parents should have the right to be able to home educate in whichever way they feel is best: Traditional, Classical, Unit studies, Unschooling / Child-directed / Delight-directed, Eclectic… whatever.
Some questions that I have asked myself are:
* Do I know what the law says with respect to home educating?
* Do I understand that there is a difference between Law and ‘policy’?
* Do I understand what my obligations are to the Ed. Dept and to my children?
Most importantly I’ve found it helpful to know the education laws for the State we live in, and what they mean for me. I’ve only been homeschooling for eight years (at time of writing this) across Australia and in that time I don’t believe that things have been made better for home educators by changes in legislation or regulations, nor do I believe that the situations will improve. It may appear to become more ‘homeschool friendly’ but in the long run I believe that the rights and responsibilities of parents will be tied to financial assistance, which will slowly cause to make more parents put themselves under the authority of government bodies. . Decide who to be answerable to…who to give account to…I believe that each family needs to do what is right for them, before God.