The numbers of students being educated at home in Australia has been steadily increasing with an annual growth rate of 9.4%, over the last eight years.
The reasons for this growth are:
1. Legal Acceptance
In every state and territory, home education is now recognized as a legal alternative to attending traditional school.
2. Australia has a History of Government Distance Education
Australia's history of distance education has been growing over time, beginning with Schools of the Air since 1951 and correspondence schools for over 100 years. These government-approved schools have helped Australians accept that learning away from a classroom is possible—and even a little romantic.
3. Greater Media and Community Acceptance
4. Numbers Bring Numbers
As more people commence homeschooling, more hear about it—and in a positive way. It is now likely that most people know at least one family that has home educated or are actively homeschooling. Knowing others personally reduces the fear factor considerably.
5. The Socialization Question is Now a Non-Issue
With the increase in numbers and activities, especially in the major cities, there are now more social activities for homeschooled children than is possible to attend. While some families may still feel isolated due to finances or because they live in a rural location, social opportunities are much better than they were 20 years ago.
6. Rise of Homeschooling Support Organizations
Every state now has at least one home education support group. These support groups have been active in lobbying government for better laws and regulation for home educators. They are also a great point of first contact for families inquiring or starting out.
Some groups provide additional services such as teacher support, organized activities, and assistance with government registration.
7. The Internet
Widespread access to the internet has made it much easier to find information about home education and support groups. It is also much easier to find books, resources and videos, which make the decision to commence home education easier.
8. Parents Want a Different Philosophical Method for Their Child’s Learning
This is one of the top three reasons parents give for choosing to home educate their child. Many parents want to choose a different method of learning, such as unschooling or alternative curriculum like Classical Conversations, neither of which are used in Australian school systems.
9. Schools are Not Able to Provide Adequate One-on-One Instruction
Parents are concerned that, on average, a child will only receive four minutes of one-on-one instruction during a school day. Many students will not grasp complex concepts within this time frame. These students fall behind and lose confidence.
At home, a student can ask questions and check their understanding with a loving adult who is not distracted by 29 other students. In such an environment, learning and progress occur steadily.
10. Public Schools are Perceived to Ignore God
Public schools are not able to state that God is the designer and maker of all things. They ignore the existence of God, and their subtle message is that God is irrelevant. People of faith often choose home education, as they believe that public schools are teaching a worldview different from the one they value.
11. Parents are Concerned About the Recent Cultural Shift in Schools
Some parents who were previously happy with the school system are concerned by the introduction programs which teach a different worldview, such as the Safe Schools program.
12. Parents are Concerned with Peer Pressure at School
Some parents are concerned about the kind of danger peer pressure could have on their child, especially if their child is naïve and easily led. Parents see the home as a safe environment. Social activities with other homeschooling families are safe, diverse and well supervised.
13. Expense of Private Day School Education
While many would like to send their child to a local private school, fees have increased significantly andhave become prohibitive for some. In comparison, education at home is an attractive financial option.
14. Easier Access into Tertiary Institutions
Over time tertiary institutions are making entrance easier for home-educated students. It is much easier to enter university now as a homeschooled student than it was 20 years ago.
Bullying is now one of the most common reasons given to start education at home. A typical conversation that this author has heard hundreds of times is when a mother calls and says, "I have a daughter in Year 9 and I just can't get her to go to school. She says to me, ‘Mum, they are horrible, I just can't go back.'" Other parents say, "It breaks my heart that my ten-year-old cries all the way to school each day."
Parents say, "I am up at the school every week, and each time I am told, ’We are dealing with it,’ but the bullying just goes on and on. I am over it. It is not something that we ever really thought about, but right now homeschool is the only option for us.“
16. Children with Special Needs
Homeschooling because a child has special needs is one of the top four reasons parents choose to home educate. Many of these children do not qualify for a teacher’s aide and start to fall behind, both emotionally and academically.
17. Advanced Children
Some parents indicate that their children are well above average academically and are frustrated and bored in the classroom. When home educated, these students can advance faster than their peers.
18. Not Happy with Culture of Local Schools
Some parents are concerned about noisy, disruptive classrooms or with the level of swearing in the playground.
Some children say that it is hard to find other students who try to follow the teacher's instructions and complete homework correctly.
19. School Waiting List
Some parents desire to place a child in a particular school, but are on a waiting list. Rather than swap schools halfway through a year, some parents choose to home educate for 6 to 12 months.
20. Parents are Concerned That Their Child is Underperforming in School
Some parents are are concerned that their child is just drifting through school and underperforming.
At school, students can often get away at working at 50% of their capacity. Many students are not performing anywhere near their best. Their motivation is low, and their friends may be distracting them.
At home, a parent can see exactly what a child has done each day and whether he is underperforming. There is no hiding in a class of one or two students. Parents can sit with a child and encourage him or her for a whole hour if they are struggling.
Parents believe the ultra-small class sizes at home can make a huge difference to their child's academic performance.
21. Immature Classmates
Some children will ask to be homeschooled because they find that their peers are immature. In other cases, a parent will remove a child from school to remove the
temptation to continue a relationship with another student that has
22. Some Children Just Don't Like School
Some children just don't like the school environment. When asked why, they often can't verbalize what the problem is. They have not been bullied, yet they will get stomach cramps in the morning and complain about not feeling well.
When a parent notices a child is missing school one or two days a week, homeschool becomes a real option.
These reluctant students often (but not always) make a complete transformation when they commence home education and become enthusiastic about their learning again.
23. Not Happy with a Teacher
Some parents state they had been very happy with their local school until this year when their child has a teacher in whom they have little confidence. Whether it be a first-year graduate who is still learning the ropes or an older cynical teacher who has lost their passion, one year of a struggling or jaded teacher is just not acceptable. Home education becomes a viable alternative in these situations.
24. Failure to Teach Phonics
Some parents are dissatisfied when their child is still not reading after five years of formal education.
The effective teaching of phonics will result in a rapid growth in reading ability. It is common for a child's reading level to jump two-three years in a semester when a good phonics program is used.
The one-to-one interaction time with parents that is possible with home education using a phonics-based program greatly assist a child in improving their reading ability.
A number of families home educate while traveling around Australia by car or caravan.
26. Elite Sports
This author has worked with students who were training at an elite level, including golfers, surfers, swimmers, Olympic squad members and ballet dancers. Home education can help these children achieve both their academic and sporting goals.
27. Parents on Student Visas
Another group of recent additions to the homeschooling movement are parents who are studying in Australia on student visas and who would have to pay $14,000 a year to send their children to their local school. Many find homeschooling a very attractive option financially.
28. Health Reasons
Some parents choose to homeschool because their child suffers health issues such as depression, chronic fatigue, a suppressed immune system, or cancer. It can also be a helpful option for teenagers who are pregnant or have a young baby.
Some children become extremely anxious, have panic attacks, or become physically ill if you force them to go to school. For all these children, education at home provides a safe environment while they are unwell.
Sadly, there are also parents who have a terminal illness who want to spend as much time as possible with their children while they can.
29. Parents Who Want to Be More Involved
There are parents who have no problems with their local school, but want to be more involved in their children's education. They see the benefits of homeschooling and do it for family bonding and overall flexibility.
30. Too Young
Now that the compulsory age of schooling has been lowered, some parents are concerned that their child is simply not ready for school. Some children are not entirely out of nappies or still require their midday sleep.
In schools, teachers are encouraged not to touch a child or let them sit in their lap, so 4- and 5-year-olds are now starved of physical contact for six hours a day.
Some parents do not want to their child to receive vaccinations and believe that educating at home will reduce the pressure to do so.
It is recognized that homeschooling is not for everyone, and many parents have said it is one of the hardest things they have ever done. However, for parents and students in the above circumstances, it can be a viable and beneficial option.
Covid-19 Update: As a result of the coronavirus lockdown, many millions of parents have now experienced distance learning. All home education registration authorities are reporting a significant increase in inquiries and registrations in 2020. It is yet to be seen whether this will lead to a long-term increase in home education numbers.