When we first started home educating,
our daughter hadn’t yet turned 6,
and in NSW where we lived at the time,
she didn’t have to be registered until that age.
When we moved to Canberra in 1999, we were advised that registration was ‘preferred’ but not mandatory – so we didn’t register immediately.
When the legislation changed in 2005, we were advised that registration was becoming mandatory, so we commenced the registration process. We discussed many of the reasons we’d heard for not registering, and decided that for us, unless the government started interfering with our raising of our daughter, we’d comply with requirements. If the government did ever become intrusive, then we’d ‘head for the hills’. We’ve never had any reason to flesh out that vague concept of heading for the hills, because the government has never been that intrusive.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t love the registration process. I find it a drag. But, the law is the law, and so I figure out how to record what we do in a way that is as easy as possible for me, that works for me, and hopefully makes sense to the department too. So far, so good.
If I Were King
In 2007, I wrote an article for HENCAST which you can view on their website. The article is titled “Our Registration Experience”, although the concept is one I’ve dubbed “If I Were King”. I came up with the idea as I was nutting through the inconvenience of providing ‘all this information’ to the authorities.
Simply, I realised that if I were the one in charge of everything, I would want to ensure that my subjects were having their needs met. I would have to have some kind of system that gave me that assurance, because I couldn’t possibly visit every person face to face. Whatever your view of the education system, and the home education stream of it, it exists in an attempt to ensure that all children do receive a high quality education. I am educating my child, so why not reassure the authorities about that fact?
(I do know that there are a thousand political arguments that could be sparked by the above paragraph. I’m not trying to spark any argument at all – rather, to simply tell the story of how I came to relax about the process of registration.)
I should point out that I think a lot of my early discomfort can be attributed to several factors
- fear that I’d ‘get it wrong’ and be refused registration
- not clearly understanding what the department was after, and
- being personally far too process-driven
Learning to Relax
Since our first registration visit, several things have happened to put me more at ease about the registration process:
- I’ve learned that yes, I can educate my child as well as, or better than, a school can – that’s boosted my confidence no end!
- in 2008 NGES engaged in a lengthy consultation process with local home educators, which I participated in, to ensure that the manual they provide is both legally accurate and as user-friendly as possible, and
- I’m learning to relax! Thankfully, many of the parents who have been home educating longer than me have talked about their methods and approaches – and they’ve got great kids who have successfully transitioned to university, workplaces and adult life in general. Seeing results, up close and personal, has worked wonders in helping me to effectively chill out.
In conclusion, I’ve learned that NGES does understand that we sometimes encounter difficulties, that our methods evolve, and that our children don’t always co-operate. What they’re looking for is evidence that learning is taking place, and that we’re not neglecting or abusing our children.
Responsible parents who are actively educating their children
at home do not, I believe, have any need to hide.
The secret of happiness is freedom.
The secret of freedom is courage.