From the brochure …
Some international organisations provide whole-curriculum resources employing various educational philosophies. Every subject area is covered, and marking and support services may also be available. This is a very structured approach, akin to a formal classroom.
Some organisations are accredited distance educators. Additional registration with the local education authority may not be required if registered through such an organisation.
(Government supplied Distance Education is usually only available to families who are unable to attend a school because of either distance or health issues.)
Commercial Curriculum can be a boon for larger families, or those wanting a fully prepared curriculum.
To Elaborate …
Commercial curriculum is sometimes referred to, mostly on US websites, as ‘school in a box’, ‘curriculum in a box’ or ‘boxed curriculum’. Such resources often include text books and work books, as well as all associated resources such as DVDs, manipulatives, etc., and exactly what is supplied will vary significantly between suppliers. There is often phone or email support available with the purchase of full curriculum.
Perhaps it’s odd to put Commercial Curriculum and Distance Education under the same banner, or in the same article. As it happens, there is a bit of a crossover.
- At one end of the scale you have the commercial curriculum which is supplied to you as the parent, for you to use with your child as you see fit. This is the type of purchased curriculum that comes to you from just one supplier, and you are responsible for how it is utilised.
- At the other end of the scale, you have government supplied distance education (which not everybody qualifies to utilise). The government pays for and supplies the curriculum, but they also ensure that it is utilised to their liking. The child is educated at home, but the government is still in charge of how, when and what happens.
- In the middle is the cross-over approach of Commercial Distance Education. The parents pay for the resources and oversee what happens, but it must happen in accordance with the requirements of the accredited commercial distance education provider for the child to progress as desires.
Below the Advantages and Disadvantages, I will attempt to explain further.
- readily available support
- all-in-one curriculum solution
- possible to cover significant subjects this way, and add variety with input from other sources
- similar advantages to Traditional
- often a very full work-load, with limited time for activities outside the curriculum
- similar approaches to all subjects can induce boredom in the children
- lack of variety may not provide the depth and breadth of educational opportunities sought by either parents or authorities
- similar disadvantages to Traditional
At various stages of our home education journey, I have been very grateful for commercial curriculum. Receiving one box and that box containing all supplies has, on occasion, been a wonderful blessing. It hasn’t been something that’s worked for us long term, however – we’ve just needed more flexibility and variety than the curricula we tried afforded us.
As far as I am aware, there aren’t a lot of Australian suppliers of ‘school in a box’ style curriculum that is for families to use and monitor for themselves.
- Australian Homeschool Solutions – provide packs that cover key learning areas or essential learnings for K-6.
- Skwirk – an online education portal featuring syllabus-specific content. Paid subscription. Can supplement school attendance, but is used effectively by many home educators.
Commercial Distance Education
Some years ago, as Queensland was reviewing how it governed home education, for a period, only parents who had been trained as teachers were allowed to register as home educators. This is no longer the case, but at the time, it was very distressing for a great many competent home educators.
Some commercial curriculum providers during this time became accredited Distance Education providers, which helped many home educators to continue home educating as well as to ‘stay legal’. Families who registered with an accredited distance education provider did not also have to be registered directly with the government, as the distance education provider was deemed to be legally responsible for the education of the child registered with them. From what I understand, this is still the case.
Australian Commercial Distance Education
To the best of my knowledge, there is only one such organisation currently in operation, whose credentials are recognised by ACT authorities and available direct to residents of the ACT. They are listed as a link, below. Users of this curriculum are required to advise the DET of their registration with the accredited provider, but are not required to go through a separate registration process or visits.
- Australian Christian Academy
With bases in both Queensland and NSW, this US distributor has Australian versions of many of their key resources. We know several families who have enjoyed using this curriculum for some time.
US Accredited Suppliers
An internet search will yield a plethora of international suppliers of boxed curriculum, some with US accreditation that is not recognised in Australia. This style of curriculum might be just right for your family, but you will still be required to register each child for home education with your local authority.
When you do your own internet search, you’ll find a plethora of these suppliers. A few that I’ve heard about historically include:
- A Beka Correspondence Program
Bible curriculum from Christian perspective, grades K – 12
- Sonlight Curriculum
Christian Literature-based program for grades K – 12
- Clonlara School Home Based Education Program
Progressive nonsectarian program for grades K – 12
- Oak Meadow School
A holistic, nonsectarian program accommodating a wide variety of learning styles for grades K – 12
Government Supplied Distance Education
As stated on the ACT’s Distance Education webpage, government-supplied distance education is generally reserved for families who have distance or health constraints which prevent their attendance at a public school. It is available to families who are travelling, too.
For ACT students, Distance Education is provided by the NSW Department of Education and Training through their Queanbeyan Distance Education Centre.
If you are genuinely interested in having a government-supplied curriculum for your child, you need to be aware that this is ‘distance education’ not ‘home education’. You are not in charge of what your child completes and when – the government is. Your child must comply with all assignment and assessment requirements, as well as participate in any mini-school attendance requirements.
An internet search may need specific refining in order to locate resources which are suitable for your needs.
“The most important thing in art is the frame.
For painting: literally; for other arts: figuratively –
because, without this humble appliance, you can’t
know where The Art stops and The Real World begins.
You have to put a “box” around it because
otherwise, what is that on the wall?”
~ Frank Zappa