Kingsley Educational Pty Ltd
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Advantages of starting home education before the end of year
The legal fine print (sorry!) This information and the steps for withdrawing from a school are based on the legal situation for Victoria as at January 1999. The overall steps will be applicable elsewhere, but there will be different additional requirements depending on your locality. This information is necessarily of a general nature only: please make sure you have researched your Education Act and other relevant laws, and if necessary obtained competent legal advice pertinent to your own circumstances.
Most of the comments about schools will be more applicable to public/State schools than to private schools, where the staff and administration understand parental freedom of choice more readily. However, even here, we know of schools where attitudes became frosty towards parents when they announced their decision to depart. The main point to be aware of is that your decision to depart will most likely change the relationship you previously enjoyed with the school.
When you choose to withdraw your children promptly rather than waiting until the end of a term, or the end of a school year, the following points are in your favour:
We know many of these things because we have made these mistakes ourselves, so don't feel bad. The situation is not irredeemable, no matter what you've done or not done. The most important thing is to decide what is best to do now.
- You get a chance to try it for a manageable length of time - discover any problems (eg work attitudes) and think them through during the summer break.
- Your child gets to feel what it is like - no long weeks of holidays to wonder, worry, and/or mix up being home (holidays) with home education (not holidays).
- You can use December and the summer holidays to deal with the preliminaries (find out about home education, test his/her knowledge, make plans, select material, think through your choices) without the pressure of keeping up "efficient and regular instruction" at the same time.
- When the school discovers you are planning a move, it is almost certain that your child will be questioned. Does he/she know what to say? It's often too easy to answer in such a way that hackles would rise: indeed, what does one say to soften the underlying point - "this school is no longer good enough for us"? Of course if he doesn't know where he's going, or what to say, this won't reflect well either. More on that later. However, the pressure from staff on your child right now will be a lot to bear. Can you expect them to bear it another month?
- The negatives that caused you to look into home education will loom larger as each day goes by, and it will become harder and harder to send your child/ren off each morning to endure them.
- Most people worry that the school would have completed subjects to some logical point by the end of the year, and that losing those last few weeks will "untie the ends." However, many schools actually waste the last weeks, with "play work." You can use the time much more effectively.
- Some parents want to get their money's worth for things paid for at the school. This is a personal choice, but in the end, the money is gone anyway - will the benefit of staying for the "benefits" really outweigh the benefits of getting started?
- The best kind of leave-taking from a school is a clean break. Giving lots of notice makes it harder. The best is to get things ready at home, then pick up all the child's belongings from the school, return any borrowed items, pay all debts, and give notice (one minute's notice), and go. The longer it takes, the more likely it is to become strained. NB: many private schools require a term's notice or more. Be aware of this as you will have to balance the financial impact against the delay in beginning home education.
- If you wait till the last day of school to leave, then you will be contacted on the second day of the following school year, when your attendance will be sought in order to boost numbers for staff appointments. All the contacts will be renewed and revised, just when you thought it was all over.
- The worst impression to give is that of an irresponsible parent, by saying for example: "We're are not sure what we'll be doing yet." You don't have to tell them what you're planning, but don't try to evade questions. If you are moving because of job changes, missionary or pastoral service, military posting etc. there may be a genuine uncertainty about your situation which can be explained but, if not, a feigned ignorance doesn't help. It may cause unnecessary "alarm bells to ring" for someone, who then pursues some enquiries, which could actually create problems for you later on. If a direct question comes, the truth cannot be avoided and (in Victoria) you have a sound legal basis for your actions, so that any unpleasant consequences can be handled smoothly and without too much fuss.
If you decide you do wish to take your child/ren out of school soon, please don't do it impulsively!
What could you expect after that? You may get a contact by phone, letter or in person.
- You do need to be ready - In Victoria, you need at least four hours of educational work for each school day. It doesn't all have to be written, nor from text books, but it needs to be educationally justifiable. We can help you think about it all if necessary. If you can give this process priority, you could have yourself ready in a few days.
- When you want to "ring down the final curtain" call us again. Ideally it's a job for Dad, as he is often a) less involved with the personalities at school and b) more able to be firm but friendly, giving just the essential information without feeling rude.
- Collect all your childrens' belongings on the day (as mentioned above in No. 8).
- At the end of the day go to the office and say "thanks but we're going" or deliver a note. (We could chat with you about the wording of that talk or note if you wish.)
Of course you may decide that you do not wish to start until next year. That's fine - don't apologize for coming to a different conclusion than we have. We are all different and that's a good thing, not a problem. We'll no doubt make lots of different choices over the years, and we'll be able to learn from each other.
- Don't let anyone in - talk through the security door if possible. Jot down their complaint, any threats, who they are, and the name of their boss.
- Acknowledge the importance of the matter since this will reduce the risk of a major blow-up with them.
- Explain that you are doing everything you legally have to, and ask that they put their concerns in writing. Then chat to us again. Usually by two weeks after leaving they will forget you exist, if you handle contacts wisely.
Still, there is no loss in having taken the time to raise these issues - you will be forewarned, and able to fore-arm yourself to avoid pitfalls. If you need to, just phone us again, and try not to be fearful about the issue. We should be as prepared as we can, and trust God for the rest.
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
His power and the wonders He has done Ps 78:4
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