Schooling at home: Homeschooling and Distance Education
Many people confuse Home Schooling (or Homeschooling) with Distance Education.
Both educational models involve a child learning from home, but there are many important differences!
Accelerate Educational Ministries (AEM) operates a Homeschool Support Service (Accelerate Christian Home Schooling) across Australia and the South Pacific, and a Distance Education School (Redwood College) in Queensland.
Who teaches the child?
Parents are legally the child's teacher. The parent does not need to be a qualified teacher, or even know every subject at their child's level, but they are responsible for selecting, providing, and delivering to their child all of the resources to be used.
Many children learn informally through play or casual lessons, or perhaps by being involved in clubs or groups where other adults are involved in teaching. This is perfectly acceptable in homeschooling, and becomes part of the child's learning program.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling recommends A.C.E. resources for all core subjects and many elective subjects. We can recommend other resources and activities that will help parents to cover other subject areas not covered by A.C.E.
We also provide comprehensive and ongoing training and advice that will empower parents to use the resources so that their child will be able to learn effectively.
The school and the teacher are responsible for providing all resources for all subject areas. Even if your child is involved in art, music or sporting activities, the school will have its own set program, assignments and assessments in which the child will have to participate.
The teacher is legally the child's teacher, so the parent is at most the supervisor of the child as they complete the school's set work. The teacher will deliver, monitor and assess the child's learning in all subjects.
Redwood College has at team of registered teachers who are dedicated to delivering a Christian worldview in their subject areas.
Who assesses the child's work?
Because parents are legally the child's teacher, parents also assess their work.
There are different kinds of assessment, ranging from quizzes and assignments to student's self-assessment.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling give thorough training on how to expertly score tests in A.C.E. resources. We even have our own Assessment Manual to give guidance, with many examples.
Further, we provide marking guides for subjects like art and essay-writing, and tips on how to have children assess their own work.
Remember, until your child is seriously looking to graduate, assessment does not have to be a 100% accurate judgement of what your child knows and doesn't know. Even schools are moving away from this, but with A.C.E. resources you will have a clear picture of your child's progress.
All assessment, including assignments, exams and work samples, are uploaded to the teacher for assessment.
Some work is collected over the term, while some (like exams), are conducted at a fixed time and marked.
What resources are used?
Homeschoolers are responsible for sourcing and providing all resources.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling recommends and supports A.C.E. resources for the core subjects and many electives, but we can recommend and discuss additional activities, particularly for elective subjects.
Even where A.C.E. is used, we encourage parents to look beyond formal bookwork, and allow the child to tap into play, chores, and life as a whole for valuable and meaningful education. The whole home, community and world become the homeschooler's resource kit.
Redwood College uses a variety of resources. These include some A.C.E. in some levels, online resources, and book/online texts that are compliant with the Australian Curriculum.
Teachers at Redwood College actively incorporate resources that present a Biblical worldview where possible.
Does my child have to submit work?
As homeschooling parents, there is no need to submit work to a service provider.
In Queensland, parents are expected to present samples for the purpose of government registration.
Most parents like to receive a semester report from Accelerate Christian Home Schooling, so all we need for that is regular uploading of test results, via our online form. This is an optional service we provide.
Distance Education schools require students to submit all assessment tasks to their teachers, plus regular samples of work for the child's portfolios.
Redwood College has set tasks for the student to complete and submit.
Deadlines and quotas
With homeschooling, there are no deadlines or work quotas apart from what the parent sets according to their expectations for their child.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling can recommend targets based on your child's age and level, but ultimately it is your call as to how much work your child can cope with.
The only deadlines we impose concern due dates for reports.
Distance Education schools have a program for each grade and subject, which must be delivered and completed by all students.
Redwood College teachers prepare the programs for the year in advance, and set their classes' lessons and assessments according to the Australian Curriculum. Modifications may be made based on individual student's abilities, but students are expected to complete the set work on time.
Does my child receive reports?
Reports are feedback from the teacher and the school to the child and the parents, so homeschooling parents are the most qualified adults to provide reports for their children!
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling do provide semester progress reports, which are formally presented statements of their child's progress during the semester.
We also make available our own Personal Progress Report: This can be used by parents to give valuable feedback to their child on how they progressed with their personal, social and work-ethic development.
Distance Education schools all give reports, just as any other school.
Redwood College provides semester reports for each child, based on the work completed and assessment results.
Is there a timetable?
Parents are responsible for setting their children's work, including when the work will be done. It makes sense to have a weekly timetable, and may be required for registration in some states. We can provide templates to help with this.
The homeschooler's timetable is worked around the family routine, from breakfast to shopping trips, to get-togethers, to weekly swimming or piano lessons.
Timetables can be presented in detail, showing exact times for lessons, but in reality the child works to their ability to focus on the day.
Weekly lessons for all subjects are posted online at the start of every week, so the child can plan their timetable going forward.
Face-to-face lessons are conducted for all subjects according to a strict timetable: For example, Year 8 Maths may be from 9:30 to 10:30 on alternate Thursdays, so the student is required to attend each week.
Assignments and other activities to be submitted have due dates.
Homeschoolers may register with their Department of Education. This is between the family and the government, and the homeschool service provider is not responsible for this.
Every state and territory has its own requirements and conditions, typically requiring the family to provide a year's educational program for the child, and possibly a yearly visit or documentation to report on the child's progress.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling constantly researches what is required by each Education Department. We can help families to register by providing instructions, examples, and templates for each state and territory. We also offer to review family programs and give helpful feedback. Where necessary, we also help with selection of work samples.
Schools are registered with the state and receive government funding.
Schools are eligible for registration based on their programs complying strictly to their relevant government-approved curriculum.
In Australia, schools comply with the Australian Curriculum, and prepare comprehensive documentation that shows how students' work programs fulfill curriculum requirements for each year level.
This is why certain text books and activities are required, and why assignment work and work samples are collected during the school year. This is also why students are required to complete a certain amount of work during the year.
What is the enrolment status for Centrelink?
A child who is registered for homeschooling has the same status as any child enrolled in a registered school, from the point of view of Centrelink.
A child enrolled in Redwood College DE has the same status as a child registered in any school.
Does my child graduate with a Certificate?
Homeschoolers must arrange their own entry into employment or educational institutions.
Accelerate Christian Home Schooling offers the SCEE/A.C.E. Year 10 Certificate, Year 12 Certificate and leaving certificates that may be used for entry into employment and TAFE or college. Pathways also exist for entry into university if desired, and we have many students currently studying in university after graduating with the Year 12 Certificate.
Schools in Australia offer a Year 12 graduates a state-based Certtificate (HSC, VCE, QCE etc).
There is no Year 10 Certificate, but schools give a Year 10 report which allows students entry into work or colleges of higher education such as TAFE.
Redwood College DE offers a Year 10 report, and in future years will offer the QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education).