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information

The Keys to finding employment
General Infomation on Homeschooling
Homeschooling Laws
How to Get Started
Notes for Overseas Customers
Socialization
Choosing A Career
The Highschool Years
Phonics/Reading & Writing
History of Homeschooling in Australia
Types of Tests
Entering TAFE
ACT Education Act
When to Read & Write
Pre-Reading
Slow Learners



How to Get Started

Notes For Australian Homeschoolers

A Note About Our Business

We are a family with six children. We have homeschooled for the last eighteen years. Our eldest four are now in the workforce. We only offer free advice to families who purchase or intend to purchase items from us. We do not offer free advice on other material. Under these conditions feels free to contact us as frequently as you feel necessary. Generally parents lack confidence and need some initial help but as they progress gain confidence. Our aim is to see you established as an independent, homeschooling customer.

We use the material that we sell. It has taken a great deal of time and effort to put together the "Suggested Curriculum Guide" and "Quick Grade Guides." We have tried to put together a combination that works well and will suit a wide range of children. This Guide will be changed and updated from time to time to provide you with the best combination of books. The Catalogue is updated by means of a newsletter. If you purchase material from us on a regular basis and live in Australia you will be included in the mail-out. Otherwise you will find it displayed on the web site.

We have a wide range of experience including bright children, slow learners, secondary school students and problems encountered when homeschooling children. (No! Our children are not perfect either!) Please contact us if you have a problem. No doubt we have already encountered it or know someone who has.

It is best to buy only the material you need immediately. Children's needs do change and in two or three months another book may be more suitable. It is also easier on the family's budget if this plan is followed. If you are not sure, ask for our advice. We do not believe in over-selling.

If you wish, when you purchase material from us we will provide you with suggestions on using the material, number of pages to cover and time allocation per subject. We suggest you follow these times. Homeschooling is a more intense, condensed learning. We will open a file for your family and keep details of your purchases and needs so we can better assist you. This service is also free.

 

About Homeschooling

Schools were originally one-teacher schools. The increase in size of schools has been largely for administrative convenience. One to one tuition has always been the best, which is why homeschooling is so successful. Homeschooling enables all students to succeed providing they are allowed to work at their own level and own rate. Every child is unique and will have pre-set learning rates and individual needs. Homeschooling allows parents to cater for both the learning rate and the learning method regardless of the child's ability. Slow, average and bright students all do well under this type of system. Homeschooling also allows for training in self-discipline, which will be required throughout life.

 

Parents are, and always have been, the best teachers. They know their children and are prepared to expend whatever time and energy is necessary in ensuring the child's success. If self-instructional material is used then their parent's knowledge, or lack of it, in a particular subject does not limit children. The parent remains the "authority figure" in the child's life and is able to guide the child. As a result families become closer.

 

The main criteria for homeschooling to succeed is that parents be able to discipline both themselves and their children to follow a schedule. Initially this should be fairly rigid, e.g. begin work at nine o'clock and work until eleven on academics, however, once a pattern is set this can be relaxed to suit the family needs, e.g. the birth of a baby, sickness, relatives coming to stay.

 

What is needed to start Homeschooling?

1. Testing if child is grade 1 or beyond.

2. Choosing Material from an appropriate level to suit the child's needs.

We can help you with both and will guide you through the process.

Placing children when starting homeschooling

Children from grades 2 to grade 9 should be tested before a curriculum is chosen to ensure their success. Standards and subject content vary from school to school and it cannot therefore be assumed that a child, however bright, does not have any gaps in their knowledge. To succeed a child needs solid foundations. Gaps can cause problems later and are better dealt with initially.

The Test Your Child series or Basic Skills Language & Maths help with placement and provide a record of the child’s knowledge upon leaving school. It is also helpful to parents and tutors working with students after school as it enables them to find the gaps and work from that point.

Test Your Child Series

Use Test Your Child Maths, Spelling, Language and Reading at the year below the one they are attending at school. (General Aptitude is optional.) Choose a year below the child’s grade in school. It is best to test your child in all subjects at once. The answers are in the centre of the book. Remove them first and write on the top of the answers the book and grade it came from.

It is suggested that children complete about 3-4 pages per day in each book over 8-9 days. The start of each book is easier. At lower levels children may progress faster. If you are working full time on these tests and your child has not completed, or nearly completed the tests, within this time frame stop because it means the child does not know the work well enough. Date the page and keep it as evidence of the child's standard on leaving school. Uncompleted books may be finished at a later date.

Before your child begins explain that it does not matter if they do not know all the answers. The object of the test is to establish where to begin their work. Mark the books each day and record a score for each page. Different subjects may be at different levels. Do not help the child. The child may use a dictionary but not a calculator.

 

Basic Skills Language/Maths Series

This is the preferred series for testing prior to beginning. These books provide a cheaper option. All work is in one book. Choose a year below the one the child attends. Each page is divided into two. The top of the page contains language, the bottom maths. The answers are in the centre of the book. Remove these first.

If the child is working on this book full time he should be able to complete between 5 and 10 pages a day. The first few pages are fairly simple but work will become more complex as the child progresses. If the child has not completed the book after 12 days or if the work is obviously too hard, stop. Do not teach the child what he does not know. Other books will do this.

Date the page and keep it as evidence of the child's standard on leaving school. Uncompleted books may be finished at a later date.

Mark the work each day and record a score for each page. You will find that overall gaps stand out and can be categorised.

Assessing Results (both tests)

1. If the child scored an average of 80% or more then books can be purchased in the grade above the test.

2. If the child scored an average of between 60%-80% it is better to place the child at the test level.

3. If the child scored less than an average of 60% you will need to go back one level or you may need to test for lower levels. If in doubt contact us.

4. Sometimes the child may do well overall but have glaring gaps in some areas, e.g., spelling or vocabulary, particular concepts in maths etc. In this case rather than asking a child to repeat a whole grade it is better to choose a book or books that will give practise in the concept. We can help you with this.

Choosing Material

For the cost of a phone call, e-mail or a visit we are able to help you choose suitable material based on these results or you may choose yourself. Our hours are 2p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday if you wish you may begin with Maths, English, Spelling and add Science, Social Studies and Writing a little later. Art and Craft, Music, Home Economics are electives. Your electives will depend on your interests.

It is necessary to cover all the work outlined in the "Quick Grade Guide" for the year. The standard is very high so it does not matter at what rate the child progresses. They will be far in advance of their peers at school.

If the material is marked blackline master or photocopiable you are paying for the right to photocopy material for your family. Publishers do not mind if several families share this material. You may not sell material photocopied from it to other families. Workbooks are copyright and may not be photocopied. If you wish to use them again for other children have your children write in exercise books. Please do not photocopy them. It will generally cost more than buying the book and photocopying material that is copyright is stealing. Scanning material that is copyright and reprinting is also illegal. Writers earn royalties from books sold. They will not continue to write unless they earn something in return. Publishers will not continue to produce cheap material suitable for homeschooling if they do not sell a preset number. They are always willing to reprint books that sell well and this ensures a stable market for yourself and other families.

Setting Goals for Your Children

Your eventual aim will be for your children to work by themselves with the minimum of supervision. This enables you to give help when necessary and still carry out your normal duties. Children being removed from school usually need to be trained to work unsupervised. Be prepared to spend more time helping them at the beginning.

Do not set too much work initially. To begin with it is probably better to set only one or two pages in each subject. After the first week this can be increased if the children are completing their work too quickly. As a rule of thumb, do not expect more than half an hour of work in any subject. Never change the required number of pages for the day once they have been set, unless of course the child is having difficulties. Children need to know that once they have finished their work they will be rewarded with time to themselves and not with extra work. Use stars and stickers as rewards and praise them for work well done. Leaving changing the amount of work until the weekend when it will go unnoticed by the child.

Homeschooling is more intensive learning than at school so the working day is shorter. Children beginning school will only work on academics between half an hour and an hour each day in Maths and Phonics as it is difficult to do much else until they can read. You will find that the first two grades overlap. Children from grade one to grade three will work between one hour and one and a half hours on academics each day. Children from grade four to grade six will work no more than two hours on academics. If necessary, rearrange your timetable to fit.

Homeschooling is not a race. Thoroughness is better than speed. If you start at grade one you have twelve years to complete all the work necessary. Even if you start at grade seven you will still have many years left. You need to pace yourself. If you try to cover too much in one year you will "burn out" along with your children. Remember it is better that your children know a little well than a lot imperfectly.

You will find that most homeschooled children cover twice as much work as children at school even within the times suggested. Remember not all learning comes from books. Much of it is incidental.

If a child is genuinely having difficulties do not hesitate to cut down the work in that subject, leave it for another day when their mind might be fresher or choose a fresh approach. Some children need hands on material; other children pick up material quickly and become bored with too much repetition. Tailor the child's work to the child. Do not try to slot the child into a curriculum. It will not work.

Goals can be recorded in a yearly diary. It is sufficient to write the subject, book used and pages covered. If this is your first child and you have other children who will follow later you will probably need to record the material covered in greater detail. This will help when you come to work with the second child, as you will be able to follow your previous lesson plan. (If you do this make sure that you record any problems you have or any lessons children especially liked. Use this guide flexibly because material that suits one child may not suit an other.)

Primary Material

Quick Guide

Use the quick grade guide to choose material. You will receive advice on how to use the material when you buy books.

Afternoon work

Choose only one topic for each afternoon. Topics will depend on your abilities and your family’s interests. With crafts, like sewing or knitting, many families prefer to work in blocks so that one article is completed before the child progresses to the next. With very small children you will often take longer to set up and clean up than the child to do the work.

Homework

Unless work has not been completed during the day there should be no need for homework.

Marking

Marking needs to be done daily. Most of our primary school material includes answers so the time taken is shortened greatly. With small children, mark each book as they complete it. Older children should be required to correct any mistakes the following day. Repeated spelling mistakes can be added to their spelling list. Insist on neat, well set out work from the start. Once children have homeschooled for a while you may wish to teach them to mark their own work. This places the responsibility to learn back on the child and further reduces the time parents need take in checking work.

End of Year Check

In homeschooling a child is not tested at the end of the year but rather at the end of a level, when all work has been completed. The Test Your Child series provides a check, not just on the student, but also on the parent. These tests may provide insight into material that has been overlooked or not completely mastered which is what parents worry about most.

Beginning of Year Revision

Language and Maths books at the appropriate grade level provide excellent revision when starting a new year, for example, if the child is in grade 3 uses Language and Maths 2 before proceeding with new work. Each page of the book has both English and Maths on the page. It breaks both parent and child gradually into the New Year, as there is often a reluctance to begin formal work again after long holidays.

General Hints

Make your children's work as enjoyable as possible by giving them, a range of interesting material. You will soon come to know your child and understand what best suits their needs. Even the repetition of tables can be made more enjoyable by skipping or swinging while saying them. Use your own judgement about whether to extend or progress to the next grade. Different subjects may be at different levels. Each child is unique and some child need more reinforcement than others. What matters is that a child is learning, not how fast they are progressing. Homeschooling is not a race.

Using Australian Material for Secondary School Students

Many students commencing homeschooling will have large gaps in at least their mathematical knowledge. The Understanding Maths or Easy Learn Maths books can be used to help student’s progress to the correct level. Understanding Maths are good books as they explain comprehensively each problem that will encounter in maths during the year level. Answers are included in the book. Contact us for help in placing a highschool child.

As with the primary school material, you will not need to purchase all books suggested in the Suggested Guide. The Quick Grade Guide will give you a step-by-step guide to follow. Simply follow the arrows once gaps have been filled. A wide range has been included to suit to make it possible to individualize the curriculum for the child.

Placing Children who have used American Material

Testing needs to be undertaken as the sequence in subjects is different. Australian materials work on a spiral basis, which is built on year after year. Children do not therefore forget previously learnt work. In English there is more of a variety of topics covered. Australia has some of the best material in the world available to homeschoolers and of the highest standard. It is also easy to use and requires little teaching.

 Points to Consider when Choosing Subjects

Highschool is a time of preparation for future employment. Subjects should be chosen with this in mind. While the student may not know what career they wish to pursue certain skills will be obvious and parents should encourage these skills while giving the student a good, all round education. It is important that any student likely to become a tradesman should have a good grounding in Australian mathematics. At higher levels it is important to consider the job prospects of any career chosen. Work experience is vital in highschool even if it is only delivering newspapers or working in a fast food chain and should be considered part of the programme.

Setting Goals

Secondary school students should be working in basic academic subjects between two and three hours a day. Academic work is best undertaken in the morning and electives in the afternoon. This work is intensive so it impossible to work efficiently for longer. This schedule also provides time to produce a well-rounded child. Life skills are important too.

The amount set in each book will vary with the books chosen. When working on the vocabulary page in Secondary English one page each day may be sufficient because of the dictionary work necessary, while two or three pages may be completed in Secondary Science. If you purchase books from us we will provide you with suggested times and amount of work to be completed.

 Experiment during the first month with the number of pages until you consider the total completed satisfactory for your child. Each child has different abilities, which may vary from subject to subject, and they should work at their own pace. Once established, grades have little meaning at home, since levels may vary from subject to subject. Progression to the next level is on completion of work and not at the end of the year. Subjects need to be chosen with possible careers in mind.

 

Self-Instructional Material

Most of our material is suited to individual work by students. Books have text followed by questions. If the questions are at the end of a chapter, rather than throughout the text, as some are, you may either set a goal to be completed over several days or set an appropriate amount of text or choose questions appropriate to the text. Books without questions can also be made self-instructional by requiring the student to read a set amount of pages and take notes or write a summary of the material. Learning to write summaries is an important skill. If desired an essay on the topic can be written at the end of the chapter. None of these methods require much extra work on the part of parents. At Secondary school level students need to be encouraged to think in logical sentences rather than just filling in gaps.

Again, consult the quick guides for suggestions.

 Amount of Time

Students in secondary school should be spending between two and three hours working on basic academics. No more is accomplished if the child is expected to work longer as self-instructional work is intense. Within this time constraint students usually cover twice the amount of work of those in school. Electives will usually be undertaken in the afternoon.

Electives

Electives may be undertaken in the afternoon. Topics such as Home Economics, Sewing, Woodwork or Graphics provide good general knowledge and areas where parents can share their own skills. Electives should be chosen to suit the interests of the student and family. There are community classes that can also be made use of and libraries provide large reserves of information and suggestions.

General Information

Homework

If a student has worked hard during the day there should be no need for homework. This allows the family to spend time doing things together.

Marking

Marking needs to be completed daily. Where possible we have chosen books with answers. In some cases where there are no answers but the books have been chosen as being easy to mark. Once homeschooling is established, older students can help parents with marking younger children's work but parents will always need to recheck.

Variety

With the wide variety of books available homeschooling should be both interesting and enjoyable.

 

Final Note

Most parents are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses in their children's knowledge and character. They know when a student is genuinely having difficulty. This makes their knowledge invaluable in choosing material for their children's education. We will help you but parents should trust their own judgement, accept advice if they feel it is suitable, but not let others tell them they are wrong.

Difficulties

Like any worthwhile activity in life home schooling is not easy. You will encounter difficulties. Children are not perfect and they will "play up" from time to time. It is essential that you be convinced that homeschooling is best for your children. If you are convinced of this when you encounter difficulties you will look for ways to overcome them instead of simply placing your children back in school. Most difficulties tend to be of a disciplinary nature. Other problems that can occur are sickness, learning problems, the birth of a child, etc. All these problems can be solved. Sometimes it will mean a relaxation in your timetable. Homeschooling is so flexible and so long term that disruptions will not upset it. Homeschooling is not a race but it is an ideal method of learning and learning is not all academic. Difficulties simply produce learning in "living skills". If you have any specific queries we will be glad to help you. With six children and being in our eighteenth year of homeschooling we have already encountered many problems and survived.

Looking better we find the academics to be excellent but we would say that the greatest advantage in homeschooling is that we have a family. Our children enjoy being together and will willingly help each other, sharing both their time and their money. They love babies so our very young grandson is "fought over". Having learnt mothering skills at home with her siblings our eldest is far more relaxed about his upbringing than she might otherwise have been and our youngest now has the opportunity to learn these skills to the mutual advantage of both sisters.

Our sixteen year old and our twenty four year old boys spend time together each week playing a game they mutually enjoy. This is apparently unheard of in "the real world". All our children are well-adjusted, nice kids. They have no problems socializing. Even our youngest, a slow learner, is able to function well in the business world. Since our children have learnt from self-instructional material they have found Tertiary Education, where they are expected to work by themselves, easy to cope with. Despite all the effort involved we are very glad we preserved in homeschooling. We are ordinary people not super human. If we can succeed, so can others.

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