Karen Chegwidden, President of the Home Education Association joined HAP’s Molly Knight to chat about home education.

Some of the key topics discussed were:

  • Where to get started
  • The pitfalls to watch out for
  • Real-life skill building experiences
  • The availability of community sports and activities
  • Networking with other home educating families
  • Where to go for support

Click on the image below to watch the recorded interview. A transcipt can also be found below.

Links:

Home Education Association

Home Education Network – Victoria

 

Read the transcript of the discussion below:

Molly Knight 0:04
I’m really excited to do this talk tonight because the topic that we’re talking about, I think is absolutely spot on for the times that we’re living in now. And tonight we’re going to be talking with Karen Chegwidden, and she’s the mother of three, and her two adult children gained admission to uni without ever having been to high school. And without an HSC. Karen lives in the middle of the bush in northern New South Wales, and she works as a midwife. in her spare time, she’s president of the Home Education Association, which is a voluntary role in a national not for profit organization, and it’s dedicated to supporting home educators right across Australia. Now, I’ll just mention here, because Karen is right in the middle of the bush, and she is linked to us via satellite. Sometimes apparently, she might get, you know, a bit of pixelation and we might lose it for a second. But stick with us and it will come back. Welcome, Karen.

Karen Chegwidden 1:09
Thanks. Molly pleasure to be here.

Molly Knight 1:11
Yes, thank you so much. When we thought about this topic, it’s very relevant because of all the homeschooling that everyone’s been forced to do with the COVID issue. And my daughter was complaining because it was she found it very, very difficult. She runs a business from home and trying to educate her children. So she found that aspect, very difficult. And I must admit, I thought, Hmm, I don’t know that I could have ever homeschool. I used to love it when you know, the holidays were over and it was time for school again, so that kids could be back at school. So I guess I’m a bit too selfish, perhaps. But I’d like to ask you first. Why did you get involved in homeschooling what led you to make that choice.

Karen Chegwidden 2:04
Yeah, so for us, for my family, it wasn’t really, it wasn’t a choice that we made proactively. It was a choice that we made when we were in a position where we felt like we had no other choice. My older two children both went off to school at five like most kids do, and a few years down the track by the time he was eight, my eldest son, who’s my second child, was really just not coping with school. He wasn’t learning well, his behavior was spiraling out of control. And having been to Christian school and to public school and to Steiner school. We eventually went, Okay, I think we better just do this ourselves. And so, you know, I always say to people, we were dragged kicking and screaming into this gig. It was going to be temporary, but it absolutely changed our lives for the better. And we saw our struggling little boy changed from a child who hated going to school, who hated learning, who was angry and acting out to being an engaged happy little boy again. And so for us, we got our son back. And you know now he’s a twenty-three year old and he’s at university and the dyslexia that caused all the grief way back in the beginning really doesn’t impact him very much at all anymore. And and home education did that. We did that.

Molly Knight 3:38
Huh? Yeah, that’s very impressive. I think there’s probably a lot of children that would benefit from that homeschooling if it if it’s possible for people to do it. And I know that there’s lots of kids with a lot of emotional issues at school these days, a lot of kids are medicated as well, which is tragic. So can you tell me a bit about home education and what’s involved?

Karen Chegwidden 4:06
Sure. So home education is where parents assume all of the responsibility for their child’s education. So that means that you plan the lesson, you deliver the content, you do all of the teaching, you keep all of your own records. You are accountable in that you engage with the regulatory body in your state, and that’s different in every state, but home education is legal in every state and territory in Australia. And so really, it’s just about the parents stepping up to the plate and saying, actually, I’m going to I’m going to do this. So yeah, you, you have all that responsibility also bear all the costs. So there are no tax breaks. There aren’t any allowances for home educated students. So if your child goes to school, they attract many thousands of dollars worth of Government funding every year so that that can happen. And when you opt out of that system, you opt out of that funding as well.

Molly Knight 5:08
Hmm. Okay, so well, it’s a responsibility and an incredible commitment, isn’t it on the side of the parents is the curriculum is set, though. It’s it’s a set curriculum that you follow.

Karen Chegwidden 5:21
Yeah, so that depends on where you live. In New South Wales, the regulations state that you’re supposed to deliver a program that’s based on the New South Wales syllabus in most of the rest of Australia, and you’re not tied to any particular curriculum, most of the rest of Australia really likes you to use the Australian Curriculum through ACARA, but it’s not mandatory. Actually, like even I think there’s a few places that say, you know, this is what we really want you to do, but, but if you can show that you’re delivering a high quality education for your child, then you can follow whatever curriculum you like.

Molly Knight 6:05
How would you show that you have that you you are giving your child a good education? How would that be shown?

Karen Chegwidden 6:15
So you would need to show that you covering all of the key learning areas. So the Australian curriculum has eight key learning areas and most of the states that say, Okay, well, you don’t have to use the Australian curriculum, but you need to cover these same same subjects. If you can show the covering those same subjects in a different way, then that’s usually okay. It’s about showing that that your child is learning that they’re making progress that they’re progressing through learning so you might want to follow a Singapore maths program or a UK English Program or some people want to follow Steiner program and so they get the Steiner curriculum and they follow that You should do more or less follow the Australian Curriculum or a version of it. Yes, absolutely. It’s really flexible. And I think that’s one of the strengths. Hmm, just gives you that education to your individual student in a way that just isn’t possible in schools.

Molly Knight 7:19
Yeah, absolutely. That’s got to be probably the greatest advantage of doing it for the children isn’t it. So in your lesson plans, so what’s involved? So you would get a Steiner program and then that would be outlined of how you go about implementing it with your child. For instance, maybe UK.

Karen Chegwidden 7:41
Yeah. So, you could, you can buy you can just purchase an entire curriculum with lesson plans. You can basically purchase things that work like distance education, curriculum. There are lots of curriculum suppliers out there in this market. In Australia and around the world, so you can buy as much as you like. A lot of people buy things for some subjects and then design their own things for other subjects. So it’s pretty common to have like a maths program that you follow whether that’s a textbook or an online program, most home educators would just go Okay, that’s a thing that we, we put in our budget, we pay for that. But write your own program following those curriculum guidelines, for other things. Some people would do it for everything. Most of us do combinations of things. So, you know, if I was teaching my child who was maybe a Year 2 child or Year 1 Year 2, you know, one of the really fun things that we did. So one of the lesson plans we put together was we studied this book called How to make an apple pie and see the world and it was so fun. We read the books, this gorgeous little picture book about someone who’s going around the world collecting all the ingredients in the places where they grown so that they can make an apple pie. And in the book there’s a recipe. And so we read that book every day, we learned about the countries that they visited, we made apple pies. And then we made other things we went, well, you know, they went, they went to France to get the eggs. So what what else can we make? That’s French. And so we cooked some French food at France and, and at the end, we wrote our own little story about how to make an apple pie and see Australia. And so in that, in that lesson plan that we put that I put together for my, my son, we learned English, we learn maths, when we were doing all of the cooking stuff, we learn those good life skills, cooking and of course cleaning because who wants a kitchen that’s a disaster as well as lots of geography and even a bit of history. And some of the folk stories of those cultures, so you can weave it all together. And it’s very flexible as, as long as you’re, you know, looking back at those curriculums and going well, you know, because they’re just general guides. They make they make broad statements. So they’re not really prescriptive in the way that people think they are the curriculum documents and they’re available for free on the internet, anyone can get on and have a look at them.

Molly Knight 10:28
Oh, gosh, okay. So if you had a child that had a bent towards science, for instance, you could plan a lot more science, some little experiments, I mean, do a lot more to sell it even. They’re learning in that particular area, individual sounds marvellous actually.

Karen Chegwidden 10:50
And you might use that as a way in to, to get some sneaky learning in other subject areas in for your students. So if you had a reluctant writer who loved science, then you might be able to get them to write up their science experiment. They might write a journal about the science. You know, you can sneak that literacy in there for them to do even when they’re like, No, I don’t do writing my, um, my youngest is we’d be finished our work and we go out to the park. And then someone would say, Oh, you know, you off school today? And he said, No, no, I’m a home schooler. And then someone said to him one day, so have you finished your lessons for the day? And he looked at them and went No, I don’t do lessons. It’s one of those you know, moments where you think open up and swallow me earth because of course we do lessons. But he didn’t identify them as lessons because they were fun and they were things that he was interested in and we snuck it in. When he was thinking that he was having fun

Molly Knight 11:58
Sounds like good parenting Is it difficult say you work from home? Say you’re a mum who has an online business or something how difficult is it to combine educating your child at home and running a business from home? Because a lot of a lot of people do that these days, don’t they?

Karen Chegwidden 12:19
Yes, they do. Look, it’s challenging, but it’s definitely doable. I think it’s about having clearly defined expectations, and about accessing the support that you need. So I know for me, I’ve worked outside of the home alongside home educating my children forever since they’ve they started back in 2008. And that was just you know, it was a juggle and I did permanent night shifts for a long time husband juggled his shifts that we could be there for the kids. We took it in turns. We partnered with other families in our community as well. So Yeah, one of the other moms, I would have her kids one day a week and we would do particular subjects we did art and music at my house and then when I was at work, her kids would go to my my kids would go to her house and they would do cooking and gardening and that kind of stuff together. So I think that there are lots of ways that you can get through it. One mum I was talking to recently talked about how it was just about for her it was like changing shoes. And so in the morning, put on her metaphorical joggers, and, and she had this clearly defined time where she dedicated to home education to being there with her children, doing that structured, really focused learning. And then in the afternoon, they did more self directed things and she put on her metaphorical high heels and did her work. And that was her work and over the time the kids learn that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s not instantaneous, and it is a journey. It’s difficult for so many families at the moment that have been thrown in and expected to be able to do it all at once. Most of us as we come to homeschooling, and probably more than half of the homeschooling community now are like me, people for whom home education wasn’t their first choice. So they have these other lives, and they’ve they’ve had a different experience of education. And so they have to figure out how to do that. And we know that that doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over a period and many times over a period of months. And the longer your child has been in school, the longer it takes to make that transition to be a bit more of an independent learner to find your purpose so that you can still get your work done, as well as get your child’s education done.

Molly Knight 14:59
Hmm. Yeah wouldn’t be a transition for everyone for everyone.

Karen Chegwidden 15:03
Yeah, yeah

Molly Knight 15:05
So when I think of homeschooling, I think of the isolation and the lack of social interaction, do you? I mean, not you just said your children would go to the other family. Is there a lot of that that happens? I mean, is this a real nicely connected group of families that all homeschool and are in touch with each other?

Karen Chegwidden 15:30
Yeah, there absolutely are. There are local community groups of homeschoolers in almost every community in every area of Australia at this point, we’re pretty social bunch. And we hardly ever spend all day around the table. book learning like, like people imagine us like the stereotype is that you stay at home, you don’t go out you don’t mix with people. You sit at the table, you do lots of book work, but the reality is completely different. So the reality, like these are kids who go to drama groups and they have choirs and they go to science groups and they have all kinds of sporting events. And I know in my district every year, except for this year because it hasn’t been able to happen but every year there’s there’s a sports carnival just like schools have and so, there’s usually over 100 kids at that sports Carnival, which is pretty good effort for for a regional, regional community. I think oftentimes, there’s so much on and we have so many things that we do together in groups. I think that home educated students, they go to art galleries, and to museums and to all kinds of places to be learning in the community, as well. Oftentimes, the challenge is actually finding enough time to be at home to do any book work, rather than not socialized at all. Yeah, what’s different for us at the moment too, we’re all home a lot more than we used to be.

Molly Knight 17:03
It is a different set of circumstances now, that’s for sure. Um, would you what would be a disadvantage you’d see of homeschooling? Or is there any? Is there any disadvantages to do it?

Karen Chegwidden 17:16
I don’t know that there are any disadvantages for the children. I think, you know, they get this focused, individualized education where they’re able to explore all kinds of things, if suddenly ability to where, you know, some people say that if children had been in school, that would have been a learning difficulty, but since they’re at home, it was just a difference. And it never really became a problem. So you can overcome all that kind of stuff. Kids can go as fast and as far as they want to this. There’s no limit to the number of subjects that they can do. You can do, you can do if everything if you can fit it in. If you’ve got a really switched on learner, then you can do so much more, so much more than you would do in a traditional school. I don’t know that there are any disadvantages for the kids at all, I think perhaps I have a smaller group of people from whom to draw their friends, depending on what your local home ed community is, like. I think for families, the sacrifices are all made by the parents. So often, the choice to home educate means becoming a one one income family. And that’s a really big sacrifice for a family to make. It’s not a choice that some families can make, just for that reason, or, or you do what I did, and you just try to do it all and you work alongside of your home education, but it’s, you know, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of work and so it’s, you know, we chose the parent is primarily responsible for that, that home education. They’re the ones that makes those sacrifices they they give their time. They give their talents like you’ve got to do some preparation work. It doesn’t doesn’t just happen. You can’t just tumble it in the morning and pack the lunch box. away you go, you’ve actually got to think, Okay, what is it that we’re doing today? And how is it that we’re going to? How are we going to get there, So yeah, there. And it sounds like a big deal. And I think depending on how you were thinking that it would probably be, that could easily be a disadvantage, but I think the reward at the end of that is that you have this connection with your child, that is deep and that is strong. And your kids often have really good relationships with each other as well. They become really good friends. I know that I saw my children go from squabbling siblings to being best friends. And that’s just, that’s so great. You know, that was worth it every time that I didn’t get to sleep after night shift for me that’s that’s where the rewards hang.

Molly Knight 20:17
That’s, that’s fantastic. What is different states have different rules do they? Like if you wanted to do it in WA it’s very different to New South or? Yeah.

Karen Chegwidden 20:31
Yeah, look, they all have some broad similarities. You’re required to register with your regulatory body in, in whatever state you’re in. So, all states have have a process where you basically fill in a form someone from the regulatory body contacts you there’s an interview process and then they recommend you for registration or not hardly ever not. That’s basically what the process looks like in New South Wales and in Western Australia. In Victoria, it’s mostly done by paperwork. So you just send in your form and and then they do an audit of certain number of families every year. So they they will ask you for more information they look over your program, that kind of stuff, but they only visit 10% of the families each year and this random audit selection for the visiting process. Queensland doesn’t visit at all. It’s completely paperwork for them. So again, you’ve sent in a form you send in your education plan, once a year, you send in a progress report. And it’s all done via the paperwork, which until recently was snail mail, but of course now they’ve had to make the change to email. Probably the only really different state is South Australia. In fact, you enroll in a school, and then you’re quite free to attend. So you’re always connected to that school. It’s an interesting system. And it’s really the only one that’s quite different. All the other states have varying components that involve the initial form some sort of an assessment visit, or sending in paperwork instead of that assessment visit and then reporting. Yeah

Molly Knight 22:40
So you mentioned that they assess you and they approve or not approve what what sort of circumstances might there be for the regulatory body decision to be no, you can’t homeschool what would trigger that. Do you think?

Karen Chegwidden 22:59
Yeah look they all have particular requirements that they want to see. So in New South Wales, they want to see that you’ve got a learning plan, they want to see that you’ve got adequate resources, they want to see that you’re, you’re providing a program that’s based on those New South Wales syllabus outcomes. And they want to see your child to make sure that they’re safe. So there’s a child protection component of it. So they like to visualize the child for that reason, and that’s something that happens in in several states. Reasons they would knock you back are often around not just not having adequate plans in place or not having adequate resources and it hardly ever happens. And when it does, you know, mostly they would say, look, you can have a really short registration period, but these are the things that we’re concerned about and this is what we want you to fix. So we’re going to come back in a month or two and And have another look. Yeah, very, very rare that any gets knocked back. So, now in Queensland, you’ve got to show that your child’s made progress. you’ve got to describe your teaching and learning strategies, you provide work samples, if you don’t provide the things that they need, they write to you and say, Look, we need these things or we won’t be able to approve it and you’ve got 28 days to provide them. And so as long as you provide them, generally you’re all good. In I think, that point you went, you didn’t provide them what they needed, then that you would get a letter saying you’ve not registered anymore.

Molly Knight 24:45
Okay. And in South Australia, because you have to be aligned with a school is that so the school can continue to get the funding for that child? I don’t know, just a thought.

Karen Chegwidden 24:56
Yeah, I really don’t know how the funding works in South Australia. But you need to be connected to that school. So yeah, I don’t know why it’s an unusual model. It’s quite, quite different to everywhere else. Hmm.

Molly Knight 25:14
So around Australia, how many kids are home schooled? What’s the numbers like?

Karen Chegwidden 25:19
Wow, yeah, that’s the $64 million question really the answer is that no one really knows. Because we think that there are probably easily as many children who are homeschooled and not registered as there are who are homeschooled and registered. So you know, our best guess would be maybe 20,000 students.

Molly Knight 25:46
Wow. Okay. So how can you homeschool but not register your child? I mean, is not law. To go to school is

Karen Chegwidden 25:58
It is a law, the law says that you must register or enroll your child and it says that in every state, but we know that not everyone follows every law. Sometimes we drive our cars too fast, and that’s a law and we don’t follow it. Sometimes people choose civil disobedience for whatever reason that they want. People have all different reasons for doing all different things in life, and they’re just choices that people make.

Molly Knight 26:27
Okay, that’s interesting.

Karen Chegwidden 26:30
Yes, states that have really good regulations and legislation around home education enjoy a higher percentage higher engagement with system. So places like the AC T and Victoria probably have higher levels of registration than somewhere like New South Wales where it’s often its quite difficult to engage with that regulatory body. For For instance, if you’re in Victoria or Tasmania or the ACT, you could be a registered home educator and you could attend school part time one or two days a week or for a particular subject. And that would be okay, because that’s facilitated in those states. But if you’re in New South Wales or Queensland, it’s just not possible.

Molly Knight 27:20
Do you think it’s an advantage to home school and a little bit of school school or a disadvantage? How do you think that sits?

Karen Chegwidden 27:29
I think, I think that more options is better. I think the more options and the more choices that we have around education and how that’s delivered, the more student’s needs will be met. And so for some students, doing that combination is going to be really valuable. It’ll be really worthwhile. How fantastic to live in a state where that’s possible where you have those choices you can make. Too it could be support of families. So it could be you know, if you’re a family that needs to work part time then having your child in school a couple of days a week really takes that pressure off. And that can be a good thing can let children who have special needs like maybe autism, who might struggle to go to school all of the time, but who would really enjoy being there just one or two days a week, it allows them to have that opportunity. And for children who are elite sports people, for example, who are doing all that, that extra training who are competing in swimming or gymnastics, or golf or whatever it is, they have the ability then to be part of the schools competitions and so regionals, all of that stuff, which you can’t do when you sit outside of the school system. So to be able to access those things that are really important to your child. I think that’s a huge advantage. You know, I would love to see, coming out of COVID, more diff more options, more choices for people around around education? Wouldn’t it be amazing if if those were choices that Australian families were able to make not just those in a select few states? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could make other choices too like maybe, maybe we could have our students learning facilitated by teachers in a school, but that they didn’t have to actually attend all of the time. Perhaps they could do some of their learning online from home on an ongoing basis and do some of it at school as well. I think there are lots of different models out there around the world. And there are lots of possibilities and the more choices we have, the more students needs we’ll meet and when we meet the students needs, we get better outcomes.

Molly Knight 29:52
Absolutely, yeah. It would make it a bit more individualized for the families and the child with their particularl needs. Yeah, I think it’s great. And perhaps coming out of COVID that may be the trigger that makes some change happen, certainly in a lot of ways it is, but also in the education. So, yes, a question that I want to know because of my grandkids ages. Is it harder to homeschool school like a kindy? child? If they’ve never been to school? How hard is it to get them into a routine because they’re used to playing and having fun and suddenly they need some structure around what they’re doing. So is it more difficult for a younger child to get into it? Or is it harder to keep an older child motivated and engaged in their work?

Karen Chegwidden 30:49
Yeah, look, I think that probably it’s easier. It’s easier if you start from the beginning because that child has no other expectations. They don’t know what schools like they haven’t gone off and been separate from their parents and their family for all of that time, every day of the week, and so much more natural. No, you, you’re your child’s first teacher, and you teach them all kinds of things when they’re little without even thinking about it. You know, we teach them how to talk and how to walk. We teach them good manners, we teach them to use the toilet skills that will last a lifetime and still be useful. There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t learn many other skills and all of the things that we think of as formal education in a similar kind of way, and especially for the kindy kid, you know, an hour a day of formal instruction would be enough to cover the curriculum. Most of the learning that children of that age do can occur through play. And so it can occur, really natural, exploratory, way within their world just by providing them with opportunity. I think when you come out, you’ve got particular expectations. Mostly, mostly you pull your kids out of school because school isn’t going swimmingly well, it’s not meeting your child’s needs for some reason. And so. So that means that there’s some difficulty there that you have to then overcome or undo there’s going to be some problems with that. So, yeah, I think probably the people who are smart enough to choose it from the beginning had an easier ride than than someone like me.

Molly Knight 32:34
If you had your time over again, would you start at the beginning and not do school?

Karen Chegwidden 32:39
Absolutely. At all. Yep. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. My only regret is that I just didn’t have the courage to do it from the beginning. Hmm,

Molly Knight 32:49
Why would that be what what was it that? Did you think about it?

Karen Chegwidden 32:54
Yeah, yeah we did. We knew people who are homeschooling and we thought about it. It just, it seemed like a really big decision at the time and, and we didn’t want our kids to miss out on anything. And so we really were like, you know, we’re parents, they just want the best for their kids and, and it was difficult for us to conceptualize that the best for our kids wasn’t going to look like our own childhoods had looked. It was absolutely possible for them to go to sports carnivals and be in musicals, and have friends and do all of the things that we really liked about school. We just couldn’t get our heads around it. And I think, you know your kids and you learn as you go along, I think, yeah, we were just scared and we made it bigger. We made it bigger than it was. What if I mess this up? What if I ruin my child’s life? What if it’s the wrong decision? The answer, of course is that the school is always at the end of the street still. And if it’s the wrong decision, then you simply make a new decision. But it takes a few years of growth as a parent to realize that I think, you know, when we’re just starting out and our kids are little, not all of us, not all of us get that. You do the best that you can with what you’ve got at the time.

Molly Knight 34:26
Yeah, exactly. It’s easy to look back and say, that’s what we could have done differently, but at the time, you make your decisions based on the knowledge you’ve got, yeah. So with homeschooling now and Zoom, is there a lot more interaction between the kids online with other children, or does that not happen?

Karen Chegwidden 34:48
Now that does happen and they’ve come up with all kinds of creative ways to play games together through through connections like Zoom. You know, playing board games at both ends of the screen and card games and dungeons and dragons and all kinds of things that they they’re getting together to do that they used to do together in person. Absolutely. It’s not the same, I don’t think. But um, but the guys, the kids, they’re natives, to this technology. This is this is their generation. And so they just really take to it they find ways to do things that we never even thought were possible. If you had asked me if I knew anyone who played UNO, on Zoom, I would have said no, but if you ask me, the answer is absolutely yes.

Molly Knight 35:42
It’s amazing. It is amazing, isn’t it?

Karen Chegwidden 35:44
Yeah. It Is

Molly Knight 35:46
Yeah, look, I guess, um, well, there’s clearly a lot of people who are doing it. And when I was talking to my daughter, she said, Mom, there’s a lot of people in our community and she’s in suburban Sydney, so yeah. Are there lots more in the cities coming into homeschooling? I mean, my perception. Yeah, sorry. Go on.

Karen Chegwidden 36:12
No you go on.

Molly Knight 36:13
Oh well, my perception is homeschooling would be isolated areas where you can’t really get to school or, you know, something in the outback, or that’s sort of my perception. But you know, my daughter said, Mom, there’s lots of them. In the city.

Karen Chegwidden 36:30
There are lots of them. Yeah, absolutely. There are loads of kids in cities who are home educated. And, you know, it’s a choice that families make for all kinds of reasons. There certainly are very large groups in in all of the areas, in all the suburban areas. You know, on the Central Coast, there’s probably a group that has over 300 families, you know, gosh, huh? So that’s, that’s a lot of kids.

Molly Knight 37:02
That’s a lot of children. Yes. Yeah. So in your

Karen Chegwidden 37:06
communities in Sydney,

Molly Knight 37:11
in part of your organization is do you sort of organize any get togethers or is that more of a community thing that groups do together?

Karen Chegwidden 37:20
Yeah. So the answer to that is, is a little bit of both. So it’s a community thing that groups do within their local community. So So when my kids were high school aged, I really wanted them to have that group of high school aged kids. And so we started at a high school group and we went on excursions, and we went paddling on the lake and we did all sorts of amazing things. And we got together at least once a month, but often lots of other times and so i just i coordinated all of those things. And and the kids all came, but, and that’s mostly how it works in our communities is that one of the moms will go Actually, I really want to organize an excursion to the State Library who wants to come. And and so then people from within the community put up their hands like, yeah, I’ll be part of that. Yeah, I’ll be part of that. And so, so the group forms and they go off and they do things. So sometimes they’re a single event, sometimes they’re weekly events. And usually that happens at the community level. The role that the home Education Association plays in that is, is about insurance. So we provide insurance to our members that protects them over so public liability insurance that all of our members have access to. And we also provide insurance for work experience so that home educated students can go off and do work experience just like they’re traditionally schooled, is

Molly Knight 38:49
certainly well organized isn’t it.

Karen Chegwidden 38:50
Often, you need public liability. Yeah, I hadn’t thought I was just gonna say public liability and insurance to be able to hire community facilities to so if you were to meet in a hall to do a science group, you need to have that public liability to be able to hire the hall. So yeah that’s where the HA and we provide that.

Molly Knight 39:15
OK and you give that to the groups yeah? As a member? What about the end of high school? How do these homeschool kids sit exams? Or do they sit exams? Do they go in and join the mob and sit down for the HSC or?

Karen Chegwidden 39:32
No, no, mostly they don’t. In some states, it’s, it’s kind of almost possible. Like in South Australia in senior high school, you can sign on to do your SATes through the distance education provider there. And so those kids would then do their exams and all this stuff like everyone else does, but I don’t think anywhere else that’s actually possible. So if you home educate you don’t, you don’t get a VCE or HSC or whatever it’s whatever your leaving certificate is called in the state where you are. So you need to find an alternate pathway. And there are lots and lots of those. So lots of kids go to TAFE would be their senior high school years, often from like from about 15. Home educated students start to move into TAFE doing doing subjects of their choice doing things that they’re interested in. Sometimes they can do a certificate or a diploma through another registered training organisation something within their community. So I know my eldest to my daughter did a certificate for in music performance through the local conservatorium and then got into a music degree on the basis of that plus an audition. No HSC no. My son, a certificate re certificate three certificate four, can’t even remember anymore in laboratory technology through TAFE. And registered into a Sport Science Program at university on the basis of that qualification, He had this and he then went and did a program through Newcastle University for students aged between 17 and 21, who don’t have HSCs. And so he did that and got a better mark and then got into the university of his choice doing the same course. I know people who have done the SAT exam so you can just pay a fee and do a stat test. You can sit for the SAT’s by paying a fee through the United States they’re often accepted. most universities have a direct entrance exam that you could just go and sit if you know exactly where you want to go and what you want to do. You can just go and sit that entrance exam. Many universities have that kind of bridging course, the students to go and interact and that will let them then get into university. Yeah, there’s lots of ways, all of them less stressful than the end of year 12 exams we put our children through.

Molly Knight 42:34
Yes, I’ve always thought that was a little insane, actually to put that sort of pressure on, on kids. Okay, it sounds fantastic. Doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of disadvantage to me except perhaps for the parents. For the child it sounds really advantageous. Yeah. Well Karen, thank you. I will stop here because I think we’re just about out of time. But I wanted to thank you very much. It’s a very interesting topic. And where do parents will finish on telling me Tell me where parents go? What’s their first step? If they want to homeschool? Who do they call, you know, where do they connect.

Karen Chegwidden 43:23
So they we’ve got to help One they can call the home Education Association. So they can call our helpline which is one 300. Now, I’m testing myself, I will look at it to make sure I don’t get it wrong because someone will have words to say about that. That’s right in front of me and one second 1300 729 991 . So that’s our helpline. It’s a free service that we provide to the community and anyone who has questions about home education, wanting to know whether they how they start What they need to do specifically where they are, if they’ve got particular questions around registration or just anything homeschooling, you can call that number between 9am and 9pm, I think five days a week and talk to an experienced home educator who’s in there. So that’s a really good place to start. You can, there’s lots and lots of information on our website. So if you go to hea.edu.au, you can have a look there you can see a brief overview of what the regulations are, but you can also say lots and lots of resources. So I’ve got a page of free resources that you can find to support your learning all around the internet because there’s so much stuff out there and at the moment, there’s loads of stuff that’s free, lots of companies have made things free during during the COVID lockdown. So you know, if you’ve got them at home and you’re really struggling with that, get on there and have a look at that free stuff thats for everyone.

Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s good advice.

Yeah. One of the other services that the HEA provides to members is discounted subscriptions to educational programs. So, you know, anyone, anyone who’s interested, can join, they can buy those programs for their kids then at a really good discount. I would start there. Lots of support groups on Facebook and all of that kind of stuff. There’s Home Education Australia community page has got thousands of home educators, newbies, old hands, on all chatting together and sharing resources and saying, hey, look, I found this thing. So that would be a good place to connect to.

Molly Knight 45:51
Okay. All right. Lovely. Karen, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and I’ve certainly learned quite a bit tonight. So I thank you very much.

Thanks Karen.

Karen Chegwidden 46:03
No worries at all.

Molly Knight 46:04
Good night

Karen Chegwidden 46:05
Thanks so much, bye bye

Molly Knight 46:05
Thanks everyone for joining us. I hope you’ve gained as much information as I have from this talk with Karen.

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