Home education, school or alternative schools
Australian school-aged children will soon head off to State Government, private or grammar schools. Many will attend alternative Democratic, Steiner, Montessori or Reggio Emilia educational institutions while believe it or not, almost 20,000 Australian children will be Home Educated and not attend school at all.
A good solid education, one that prepares your children for life in an age of constantly changing technology where learning is a continuous process, is the most valuable gift you can give them. The options now available are many and varied. Parents are able to choose the style and type of education that suits their family and their children’s individual needs.
For parents who are looking for an alternative to mainstream or alternative school systems, Home Education also known as modern Home Schooling, has been a successful and viable alternative around the world since the 1970s, and numbers are rapidly increasing.
Millions of children in various countries including Australia have been effectively Home Educated. Many have completed tertiary studies and apprenticeships while some are operating businesses, companies and employing others. Some have become teachers and are now teaching in alternative and mainstream schools.
The philosophy behind Home Education is curriculum free, natural learning sometimes called unschooling, a term coined by American educator and author John Holt in the 1970s, who claimed children enjoyed learning and learnt more in a spontaneous, less structured learning environment where a child’s interest directed their pursuit of knowledge.
According to Home Educators, when children are allowed to direct their own learning, it makes it a joyous experience and they quickly learn more without the need for any rewards.
They believe their Home Educated children are not limited to socialising with the same group of peers each year, isolated from functioning communities; they can socialise with people of all ages from various walks of life in all types of natural settings, enabling them to develop advanced communication and social skills.
For anyone concerned about the qualifications required, like John Holt and various other known educators, Home Educators believe parents are the best facilitators of learning just as they have been through the first five years of their children’s lives, a time when children learn more than any other time during their development.
The process of Home Educating children is providing them with a range of connections within their communities and various resources, then getting out of the way and trusting they will naturally and extensively learn. It’s more about how to learn, so children continually learn throughout their lives. It’s cooperative learning as opposed to competitive learning so knowledge is shared and extended with their families and others in their community.
Democratic Education in schools around the world is a mode of learning that has a democratic goal and method of instruction. It promotes democratic values in education and self-determination within a community of equals including justice, respect and trust. Democratic Education is often where students’ voices are equal to the teacher’s. Classroom activities vary and are often determined by the children’s interests. Some schools hold weekly meetings with teachers and students to vote on their future activities and focus.
The oldest Democratic school is Summerhill, in Suffolk, England, founded in 1921, which still exists. It has voluntary class attendance and school meetings with broad powers.
Steiner Education is a popular alternative that follows the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner who established the first Steiner school in Germany in 1919. It’s based on the role of imagination in learning and holistically incorporating children’s intellectual, practical, and artistic development.
Learning is divided into three main developmental stages. Early childhood education focuses on creative play and active participation. The primary stage focuses of developing artistic expression and social capabilities. Secondary education focuses on developing critical reasoning and understanding.
The aim of Steiner Education is to develop free, morally responsible integrated people with a high level of social competence. There are now more than 1200 Steiner schools in 60 countries with 40 in Australia.
Montessori Education is an education model developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Her method, which was established during the early 1900s, is used in public and private schools around the world. Montessori classrooms aim to encourage children’s innate passion for learning by providing them with opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained Montessori teacher. Children are able to progress at their own pace within an ordered framework.
Montessori Education aims to promote independence and freedom within limits and respect for children’s natural physical, psychological and social development.
Montessori programmes are now serving children and families in remote, indigenous Australian communities, where the Montessori philosophy unites with the culture and heritage of Indigenous Australians.
Reggio Emilia Education
Reggio Emilia Education, which focuses on preschool and primary school-aged children, was developed after the Second World War by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the municipality of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. The educational philosophy is based on Loris Malaguzzi’s belief that children are able to express themselves in an astonishing number of ways due to their unlimited imagination.
Children’s contributions are valued equally with that of their teachers. They are both seen as educators and researchers exploring knowledge together. The goal is to provide a fun-filled dynamic learning experience for both students and teachers.
State, private and grammar schools
Public and private mainstream schools all have their own sets of values and checking with each school before enrolling can be beneficial. Some small state primary schools in rural areas may be part of a cluster school program that involves interaction with other small schools. State, private and grammar schools generally follow a directed state curriculum with children learning within peer groups of approximately the same age. Students learning and development is assessed by the education authority.
My School is a resource for parents, educators and the community to give readily accessible information about each of Australia’s just over 10,000 schools and campuses.