BY JASMINE VERMEER and LOUISE BLAIR-WEST
Victorian parents who choose to homeschool their children are concerned a looming wave of ‘crisis schooling’ families lack the time to coordinate their child’s education from home.
The concern comes as Victorian public schools move to remote and flexible education for term two, which starts tomorrow.
Victoria's Home Education Network (HEN) for homeschooling member Rachel Cole* said the introduction of government-led 'crisis schooling' amid the COVID-19 pandemic has left many parents unprepared to educate their children.
She recommends parents concentrate on the relationship they have with their children, as well as their child’s interests.
“If you know that having the kids sit down for hours a day at home is impossible, then don’t do that,” Ms Cole said.
“Routines may be helpful, especially for children who prefer structure, but consider taking an approach that is more about your family rhythm.”
Ms Cole has home schooled her children, aged 12 and 15, since the beginning of their schooling years.
When it comes to learning, she said they follow an “informal, eclectic approach” which primarily involves self-directed learning.
“Discussion is a big part of our family life, everything is a learning opportunity,” she added.
“As parents we don’t take on the role of a teacher, rather, we help facilitate and guide so that the kids take ownership of their learning and have choices.”
On the other hand, mother of two, Denise Anastasi said she is concerned she will not have the time to prepare her children’s at-home learning materials.
Ms Anastasi will be required to supervise her 10-year-old son, Ryan, however will only today receive an email about his learning requirements.
“I don’t know how they’re going to expect [me] to be prepared by Wednesday, given they have given us practically no real guidance on what the approach it is that they’re going to take,” she said.
“And I’m working on Tuesday, so when am I supposed to do this? After I finish work?”
Ms Anastasi works full-time as an information technology analyst, a job that requires her to work at least 10 hours every day.
She has two children who both attend private schools. The lack of preparation and “little information” from Ryan’s primary school is worrying her, as she said children his age often require more guidance.
“Kids at his age are less independent and less able to study by themselves, so I’m expecting I’m going to have to be a little more hands-on,” Ms Anastasi said.
Her 13-year-old daughter Ella’s high school planned remote learning before Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement classes would move online.
“They announced they were going to send the kids home before the state government did, which to me was the logical thing to do,” Ms Anastasi said.
Support for new home schooling or crisis schooling families can be found via the Home Education Network’s website and the Facebook page ‘Homeschoolers Supporting Families During School Shutdowns’.
*A pseudonym has been used at the request of Ms Cole.