I need some advice. My son is 5 and has been at school for 6 weeks.
Before he started school I had an urge to homeschool him but his kindy teacher's said he needs 'socialization'.
So I ended up sending him to school. Now I am going back and forth as to whether I should still make plans to homeschool him as the 'socialization' he has had so far at school I feel has had a negative impact on him.
I would describe my son as 'eccentric' and very intelligent. His teacher's are aware of his abilities and are quite amazed by him but the class numbers are growing and I am starting to get really concerned that he will be 'left to it'.
It is really upsetting me -the dilemma to homeschool or not. He is an only child. Or should I look at a smaller-school?
Can anyone help please?
There are so many questions you need to ask yourself. Have you spoken with the teacher about your concerns to try to find some ways to improve school? Are you in an area of the country where there is a good homeschool network? Is he in other activities that would provide socialisation if you do homeschool? Are you in a position to be able to homeschool? Do you feel you have given school "enough" of a chance? How does he feel about it? Why did you have an urge to homeschool - was it a case of mum not wanting to let go or do you truly believe it will be better for him? Do you think a change of school would resolve any issues? Do you think you would be able to provide enough socialisation opportunities for him?
These are just a few questions to ask and I hope they don't sound offensive. We are going through the same dilemma, and I know how very painful and difficult it can be. Our child has been at school nearly 3 years, he wants to stay in school, as he keeps hoping and hoping it will improve. We are hoping that too as I don't feel *I* am the type who can provide socialisation for him, despite the support networks out there (I avoid social contact like the plague). But I think we (family) are all realising that the time has come for us to say 'enough is enough' and give up on school but it is *such* a difficult decision.
I'm hoping some seasoned homeschoolers on here can add to the list of questions and issues to consider when making this decision.
I am in Dunedin and homeschooled both my kids at various times. My daughter was only homeschooled at secondary school and my son was homeschooled for part of primary and part of secondary. A lot of homeschooling in Dunedin is done for religious reasons but we did it because of disastrous school situations and giftedness. You are welcome to contact me if that would be helpful.
My sister also homeschooled one child for a while for the same reasons, but she is not in Dunedin.
I'm sure Mary Jane will be a great help. :) Choosing to home educate is a pretty brave decision, especially in the face of a good deal of ignorance, misconception and prejudice which often, incidentally, comes from close quarters.
Just make sure you do your research, ask REAL homeschoolers (as opposed to those who 'once knew of a homeschooling family and they were ... [positive or negative!]', be aware of answers re the ridiculous 'socialisation' comment that's ALWAYS crops up, etc.
I'm in Auckland but here's a link to the new blog for SHEAF (Supporting Home Education Among Families in Dunedin). Email them, too, at email@example.com
Enjoy the journey and the discoveries you'll make!
Thanks for your input. We are about an hour out of Dunedin.
I was wondering while you were homeschooling were you able to access other families who were in the same circumstances?
I guess my main concern for my circumstances is that my child is an only-child. He does out of school activities like sport and music so I'd definitely keep those up.
When you were homeschooling your teenager- what happens with exams? and is the homeschool curriculum(excuse my spelling!) the same as public school? Can they still gain University Entrance? I know that 's a wee way off for my child but he is adamant that he will study Astronomy! So I wish to be prepared!
Hi Em, just adding my experience to your decision making process. My son now aged 9 went to two regular schools, one a small rural school and one a large city school, we watched him deteriorate socially, academically and esteem wise also. We removed him and began to homeschool, not an easy decision or one taken lightly. We discovered issues with him feeling we were always on his case (he too is an only child) so we enrolled him at the correspondence school, this lasted a month before we withdrew him as the level of work he was submitting was well below what he was doing prior to enrolment, we have now taken the plunge and are 'unschooling' him, something neither of us thought we would do.
Homeschooling doesn't suit all and others feel they have a right to comment on your choices, however your child's future is of paramount concern and you must advocate for him. My lad attends drama class once a week which he adores and is a member of a scout troup which he attends as a 'lone wolf cub' as we live very rurally, this means he goes when he can. We are also members of the local gifted kids group and the local homeschooling network. Luckily our local primary school also has links with the homeschoolers in the region and we can participate in pet days' etc.
My lad also sits the university of new south wales exams (english, maths, science and computer skills).
Please feel free to email me direct if you would like to ask any questions.
We removed out son after six months of school and daughter after 2 1/2 years of school to homeschool. As the others have said, it wasn't a decision made lightly. It was made especially difficult by the fact that I had taught the gt programme at the school since the week my daughter started there (2 1/2 years previous).
Neither of my children - despite them being very sociable and outgoing got on overly well with their same age peers. My daughter had some learning difficulties and so despite her being gifted and far more mature than her age group, they could not put her up into a higher class level. My son on the other hand was much more your 'typical' academically able gifted child. I had to argue with his teacher to assess his reading level more as he was bringing home 2 books a night and turning them upside down to read to make it more challenging for himself. When she finally did test him he immediately went up 7 levels! I just couldn't be bothered having to worry and continually be on the teacher's cases - for both children but with such different needs. As I had to give up working, lose an adult social network etc in order to take on home education, there was a lot to the decision. We were very lucky that financially we were able to do this.
We've now been homeschooling for 1 1/2 years and love it. I'm pretty much teaching the kids at the same level despite them having a 2 year age gap. my daughter is slightly ahead on writing, spelling and maths but my son is way ahead on reading. The best thing about homeschooling is that we can choose what subjects we teach and usually they are things not taught in school until a much older level!
I would highly recommend it but just don't expect too much - of yourself, of your children or of how easy it'll be. It does take experimentation until you get it to the point that you are all comfortable with it.
To explain further, both my kids were homeschooled in the US but only my son was homeschooled in NZ.
When we were homeschooling I looked for similar families and found none suitable in Dunedin, but it never worried us. My son had lots of other activities and met interesting people that way. He was much much happier once removed from school and his confidence and self-esteem rocketed. He got friends at Uni.
there are lots of things available for kids but you have to keep your eyes open to find them. Together we did many more things than he did at school. He attended the Summer Science school run by Uni of Otago and loved it. Although a couple of years younger than the others in his group, he did the final presentation and was the spokesperson for the group.
He also did music and judo and fencing and ?. Cant remember others now. We went to lectures and concerts and plays and hired movies to analyse.
When homeschooling in NZ you choose your own curriculum (or use no curriculum) depending on what you want to achieve. There is no such thing as a 'homeschooling curriculum'. For high school I downloaded stuff off the net from the Cambridge syllabus/exams in the UK and matched it to the NCEA requirements here. I found the UK curriculum much more detailed and broader than the NZ one. Particularly for science. There are major problems with NZ NCEA science. Enough said about that here.
You will have to ask someone else about NCEA requirements and homeschooling. My son sat private exams to get into Uni when he was 13. It was unfortunately the last year these exams were held. In spite of his previous school trying to interfere by phoning me and telling me the private exams were worthless, the Uni accepted them fine. I had checked first, of course, before we considered them.
You can also get private tutors or use correspondence school. whatever suits you best. When he was little we did a mixture of unschooling and book work but as he got older we just did book work. I still havent found a way to teach calculus and algebra and Latin by unschooling!
My daughter only ever did book work because that is what she liked, but then she didnt enjoy homeschooling very much.
If your son wants to learn astronomy, go for it. Go to the library and look up NASA stuff online. Have fun. My son and I had a ball and I learnt heaps!
We homeschool in Dunedin. There are at two home-education support groups here - one for Christian home educators, and one for anyone of any flavour. They both have recently started blogs about their upcoming events, if you're interested in having a look:
Dunedin Christian Home Educators
They are both quite fluid in membership and there's no obligation to turn up to anything - just pick and choose from any field trips or activities that appeal. I met a family from Oamaru at our last education session at the museum, so there are definitely others who homeschool in Otago, outside of Dunedin, who travel in for the occasional activity - you would not be alone! Having a quick look at the phone lists, I would estimate about 50 families in the area. And there are definitely others who keep in the loop but don't have their names on the phone lists.
Feel free to email me if you'd like to :-)
We have 2 and almost 3 children, and decided not even to 'go there' with school. Our eldest is 5 and a half and G+T and I'm sure would be completely bored in a classroom. She would either have switched off by now, or be a real disruption to the other kids! After attending a seminar here on Gifted and Talented Education I realised that most of the parents' biggest problems and struggles were to do with how to get the school to deliver an appropriate, tailored curriculum for their child.
I decided it would be much easier just to do it myself!
For more information about Home Educating in New Zealand in general, I can highly recommend the website
Also, the Dunedin Public Library has a good range of books on home education, which you should be able to interloan through a closer library if there's one near you.
It's hard to know how many 'gifted' kids are homeschooled - I personally have found the label to be completely useless since we aren't in a school environment. I know my kids, I know their strengths and weaknesses and can work with those - the labels seem most helpful when you're desperately trying to get *someone else* to do what needs to be done. Of course, if there are specific learning styles or disabilities, the labels are also helpful when searching the internet for help!
As for socialisation - well, it all depends on what you mean by that! Can your child hold an articulate conversation with a variety of people, behave appropriately in a variety of situations and can he make friends? Those are the goals, I'm guessing (they're ours, anyway) - and if they are somewhere on that road of acquiring those skills then I think they're "being socialised". I'm not sure where our society got the idea that the best people to teach 6 year olds how to behave was a pile of other 6 year olds :-)
The internet is chock full of information and opinions about home education - mostly from the US, but it's worth have a good fossick around and seeing what you find!