Good morning Brothers and Sisters! I'm curious, what's homeschooling like in your home? Are you whole curriculum people (as in, we use all Abeka), eclectic, other? Do you school year round or follow a traditional calendar? Anyone have an "unusual" schedule (as if there is such a thing in homeschooling, but still!) such as homeschooling from 2 p.m. on? What time do you normally start? Any families "method" people, i.e. classical, Charlotte Mason, unschoolers? What subjects do your kiddos study? Just interested in finding out what homeschooling looks like among those on the board! Thanks, Sister Rachel
I am not homeschooled so much as schooled-at-home. I study most subjects through the Open Access College of South Australia. It’s a correspondence school run by DECS (the Department of Education and Children’s Services) and provides correspondence education for just about everyone in South Australia not covered by one over the various SOTAs around. SOTA stands for “School of the Air” and is a system used by most people who live on stations in the Outback. These people tend to be what is termed as ‘remote’ which basically means a very, very long way from anywhere. Some children live about 6 or more hours from the nearest town, at least 3 hours from their closest neighbours, and can go for very long periods of time without seeing other children their age. Those whose parents can’t afford governesses (yes, people still have governesses!) used to go without an education until they were old enough to be sent into the city for boarding school.
The year after the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service was started, most stations had pedal radios which the children learnt to use. The second in charge of the RFDS was a lady by the name of Adelaide Miethke who was a former headmistress. She had the wonderful idea of using the pedal radios to broadcast lessons to the children of the outback. About 70 years ago, the first such lesson was broadcast from Port Augusta in South Australia. The lessons were very popular and this soon became the Port Augusta School of the Air, which to this day services the mid-north and the far-north of South Australia, an area of about 900 000 square kilometres. There are many other schools of the air which generally serve regions or districts; such as Hay School of the Air (in New South Wales), Broken Hill School of the Air (in Victoria, also serves part of SA), Katherine School of the Air (in the Northern Territory, the far north of Australia and the Kimberleys), Alice Springs School of the Air (the Red Centre, most of the desert area in the middle of the country), and several also in Western Australia.
SOTAs are generally just for primary school, from the ages of about 5 to 12 and can cover 7-8 years of schooling depending on the state. Most states have a correspondence school, too. South Australia’s is the Open Access College, the Northern Territory has the Northern Territory Open Education Centre, and Victoria has one too, but I’m not sure what it’s called. NTOEC only covers the five years of high school, but OAC was created when Port August SOTA and the South Australian Correspondence School merged about 15 years ago. It’s a R-12 school which means children from the age of 5 to 18 study through it. We no longer use pedal radios, nor even HB-frequency radios as they did until about a decade ago, but teleconferencing and internet ‘centra-ing’. ‘Centra’ is a programme which is basically an interactive whiteboard; the only problem is that the sound is VERY delayed, so we often us it in conjunction with teleconferencing. Some SOTAs use skype or similar programmes; we don’t.
Now that you have the basic idea of what OAC is, I’ll tell you about my school week. Each week, I have a 50-minute ‘contact’ lesson plus about 3 hours of homework for each subject. I study four subjects through OAC and one through NTOEC; SOSE (basically history and geography), PLP (which is compulsory for a high school certificate; it’s learning about the workplace, also about university and what courses we need to take for the next two years to get into it), Science (which I’m dropping at the end of the year), and Music theory (this one is through NTOEC). Maths and English are also compulsory but I was a year ahead in both; we only need 1 semester of maths for SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education), so I did it the first semester this year. I’m leaving English until next year as I need 2 semesters of that.
Most days I wake at around seven-thirty, get dressed, eat breakfast, and prepare what I need for the day. Some days, like Wednesday, I have a lesson first thing (nine am), and other days I just do homework. I do one subject in the morning and one in the afternoon usually. Whichever subject I have a contact lesson for during that time, I tend to do the homework for too. I stop at around 1 o’clock for lunch, except on Wednesdays again, when I have a lesson at 1:15 and one at 2:10. That day, I have lunch a bit earlier. On Tuesdays, I go to homeschooling group straight after lunch; other days I might read for a bit before continuing lessons until around 4. On Thursdays, I go the French School from 4-6 in the city, so I have to leave home at around 2:30 to pick my sister up from school before heading off to French. Sometimes there are other homeschooling events I go to in the afternoon.
After my lessons and except on Thursdays, I generally play the piano for a bit. This usually lasts from about 4 until 5. I’ve been learning piano for a decade as of next month, and at the moment I have a lesson at 10 on Monday morning, in the next town over. The rest of the afternoon is ‘free time’. I go outside and read, I can cook, sew, and basically do whatever, unless I have an assignment due in the requires extra work, so I do that in the evenings. After dinner is family time so I don’t do homework or my own thing then.
I generally count Saturday as a school day, too. I go to German School on Saturday mornings from 8:30 until midday, also in the city. After lunch at home, I generally play piano and have free time, too, so it’s really only half a school day. German School and French School aren’t like normal school; the classes have about 7 or 8 other kids in them and it’s pretty casual. My class at l’Alliance Française d’Adelaïde is specifically for high-school-aged students who want to study French but don’t speak it at home. My class at Schule der Deutsche Sprache is one of two for 13-16 year olds. The other is for children who speak German as their first language; mine is for those who speak English as their first language. I’m probably the worst German-speaker in the class after learning it for 3 years, as although the others speak English as their first language, most have at least one parent who speaks German to them. But I learn a lot there.
The only thing I can think of to say with regards to the times of my school (as you can see, I run a pretty average school day… this comes from going to public school for 9 years!), is that because I do it by correspondence, I follow the same school terms as the rest of South Australia. This means I have 4 10-week terms running from late January until early December, with two week holidays in between and 6 weeks over summer (summer over here is December-February). Our term dates are the same as Western Australia and New Zealand. Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and the ACT, run on the same system as us, but a week ahead. The Northern Territory starts about two weeks earlier in the year and their year is divided into two semesters with a four-week holiday over their ‘Dry Season’ (around July), and a week mid-term in the middle of the semester. They get a six-week holiday over their ‘Wet Season’ (December). I frankly have no idea how Tasmania’s school terms work, except that they have three of them still rather than four.
I hope I’ve answered your questions; I’m not sure I’ve entirely made much sense. From the Australian Rachel (just to differentiate; I think you’ve probably guessed my nationality from this post by now!)
Okay, right now I seem to be the only one replying and I do seem to be going on quite a bit.
However, since I am in a talkative mood this morning, I'll say that my schedule will change reasonably dramatically especially in terms of subjects next year. It hasn't done that for the past few years, mostly because the first 3 years of high school are pretty much all the same over here.
But next year I am in Year 11 (known to some teachers but not the general populace as 'SACE Stage One'). I've already explained a bit about SACE but I'll do a little more. Every single high school in the state does SACE; it's required for children to get to pass school (unless they can find an alternate; for example, at sixteen, if you can get an apprenticeship or full-time job, you don't need to finish high school). Some schools also offer IB (International Baccalaureate) and those children don't need to do SACE. To complete the SACE, you need 200 ‘points’. Well, each semester is 10 points, you have 50 compulsory points (1 semester of Maths, 2 of English, 1 of PLP, and 1 of Personal Project) and you can make up the rest however you want to over two or more years.
You don’t have to do traditional-style lessons to get SACE points although most schools don’t know this. AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) music exams above 5th grade count for SACE points – 10 points for a practical exam and 20 for a theory. I did my 5th grade exam a few weeks ago so that and any others I do in the next 2 years will count, plus I’m about to start on 5th grade theory so once I get that done, it will count, too. Other things can count, too, such as certain scouting badges, working part-time, and structured community service.
OAC also offers some VET (Vocational Education Training) courses to SACE-level students and these can count for about 40 SACE points each year. So next year, I'll be doing Certificate 2 in childcare and the year after, Certificate 3. This is a reasonably high level (they only go up to Cert 4) and I'll be able to get a job right after leaving school. I also do a lot of babysitting during the day and I can apply to the SACE board to have that recognised as schoolwork (although I assure, this is not the reason I do the babysitting - I just like working with kids).
So basically, next year, I will have only 3 contact lessons a week with OAC (2 being the Cert 2 course, the other being Spanish), plus swapping language schools to the School of Languages (it's cheaper) which means I have German on Wednesday evenings and French on Thursday evenings - the School of Languages offer SACE-level classes so these will count for SACE. I'll still go to the homeschooling group when it's on but I'll be doing a lot more babysitting during the day.
My primary goal for life is basically to get married and homeschool my children (I didn't tell that to the career/course advisor, because it's not a 'job' and he wouldn't have been happy - I said I wanted to work in childcare, which it is, I suppose) but that's not really going to happen for a while yet as I'm 15. Once I've finished high school, I'd like to be a governess for a few years. I'm not sure what you have to do to qualify to be a governess but from what I've been told you don't actually need any qualifications, you just need to be willing to live in the middle of nowhere for an indeterminate amount of time. By the time I've finished school, as I said, I'll have a Cert 3 in childcare, so hopefully that will go down well with any potential employers.
A governess, for those who don't know or are still getting over the shock that people still have them, is basically a live-in nanny/schoolteacher. A governess lives with the family on the station and takes care of the kid(s) during the day, making sure they go to their SOTA lessons and do all their schoolwork. I'm not sure what the pay is like but as you're given free food and board, I don't suppose it matters. My mother used to be a governess and I know several kids from my classes who have one - they all live on stations (I don't think I've explained this word, either - a station is basically what Americans would call a 'ranch', only bigger).
So, yes, that is basically what my schooling is doing at the moment. Of course, I’m certainly not average of homeschooled or even public schooled children in Australia. I don’t know anyone who’s doing courses the same way I am with the same intentions, although I do know a lot of homeschooled children, some of which end up getting their SACE through OAC at around my age. We have all the different sorts of homeschooling here, and I doubt that’s much different from over in America, really.
I’d really like it if someone else could reply and tell me what homeschooling and school is like in America. Do you have a high school certificate everyone needs to get? Do you have any SOTA or correspondence school for remote children? Are there any areas where there are more homechoolers than other areas? What are your homeschooling groups like?
Thankyou for reading this far, from the Australian Rachel.
Hi Rachel...I don't have a lot of time, getting the kids ready for bed, but I'll try to tell you a bit about school over here and expand later perhaps. School here is compulsory until age 16, by that I mean you must be in public, private, or homeschooled. Kids here usually graduate from high school, which is grades 9-12, or from about ages 14-18 at age 18. There are some online high school options, which some homeschoolers take advantage of, but accrediation varies by state. Nearly all students here in the US acquire a high school diploma. Those who don't try to get what's called a GED, this can be obtained by taking an exam, and is sometime used if a student drops out of high school at 16.
It is nearly impossible, in my experience, to find any job without a high school diploma.
I think schooling is compulsory until age 16, either public, private, homeschooled, or SOTA (which is public). Each state has a different high school certificate, and then there the International Baccelaureate. The state certificates count for unis in Australia, but you really need IB to go to uni overseas.
Not every kid gets a high school certificate, and it is possible to get a job without, although some jobs you need it for, obviously. Some youths do a combination of an apprenticeship and VET (vocational training) instead of the last two years of high school. You are allowed to drop out of high school at 16 if you have a full-time job or apprenticeship.
High School in South Australia is years 8-12, around ages 13-17. In most other states, it's years 7-12, or 12-17. This can make things a bit wibbly if you go interstate, for example those who move between the states halfway through year 7. I known a number of kids who have already done half a year of high school and have to go to primary school again when they move to SA! Also, it means that years 8-10 are the same as 7-10 in other states - our learning is sort of compressed. It doesn't matter with most subjects but can be difficult with languages!
Anyway, I've got to go now, and I'm really babbling so I apologise.
Hi Rachel, I live in Florida in the US and I'm 22. I was home schooled for 8th grade because the middle schools near me were too dangerous to go to. I used Abeka and Bob Jones books. I started my work around 9AM every day and followed the same calendar as public school. I rode bikes with my Mom afterwards & I also volunteered in the afternoons at my brother & sister's elemmentary school with my Mom. Learning definitely seem a lot easier and quicker at home. At the end of the year I had to have a certified teacher review my workbooks and sign a paper stating I had learned enough to advance to high school. I was not home schooled for high school, because of state requirements that I would have to pass a GED test. Some adults I know took the test and failed it. You are not allowed to take it more than three times, so I went to Gulfcoast Christian Academy, a very small school that also used the same book companies as I had.