Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

Can schools and homeschoolers work together?

I recently wrote an article for Principal Matters, an Australian school leaders’ magazine. In it, I proposed a challenge to the homeschool/school divide. I proposed a challenge to that divide because it’s not as simple as a binary implies. For example, studies argue that many homeschool students transition between mainstream and home school. This move is in spite of the main reasons to homeschool being either ideological (for example, Christians who seek out homeschool in order to control the curricular content to which their children are exposed) or pedagogical (for example those parents concerned with the structure and form of instruction who may be attracted to unschooling or natural learning). Van Galen (paywall) (1991) also argued that there were three broad camps of homeschoolers, those who believe it strenghtens families, those who believe schools teach values that are inconsistent with family values and those parents who believe they have a unique insight into their children’s educational needs.

However, as students tend to transition between the two, I argued for a range of changes to the ways that mainstream schools view homeschoolers. I advocate:

  1. The sharing of curriculum resources with parents who choose to follow a traditional school at home route could be useful. By providing these resources, schools could also show parents who have made the choice to homeschool that they are supportive, willing to engage in a dialogue and are not nefarious institutions who wish to control their children.
  2. Schools utilising their infrastructure resources to assist homeschool families. For example, the use of specialised Hospitality kitchens, Industrial work sheds and Art studios could be opened up to homeschool families. Again, opening up of the resources would assist homeschool families to feel more comfortable within the space of a traditional school.
  3. Activities that allow socialisation between home and traditionally schooled students could be implemented. Many homeschool families report that questions about socialisation are dreaded but common among families who traditionally school (cf. Fedele, 2010; Schildbach, 2009).
  4. Accepting the knowledge that homeschool families have about their children and using that to advance teaching.

These are just four ideas to advance the links between schools and homeschools, do you have any others?


4 Responses to “Can schools and homeschoolers work together?”

  1. The Flying T Ranch

    Great thoughts. On our continent, many of these cooperations are occurring successfully. In many New Hampshire school districts, for instance, homeschooling kids are able to take advantage of classes and activities at public schools, as well as participating in VLACS online curricula. This has been true in other places we’ve lived as well. In my job, I recently interviewed a homeschooled high school student from Maine who participated in two varsity sports teams at her local public school, and was captain of one of them. BTW, she ended up receiving a full-ride scholarship to her first choice university, a prestigious private school.

    • Rebecca English

      That’s brilliant. It’s not terribly flexible here and the rules are pretty much you are in school full time or you’re homeschooled or truant. Unless you’re enrolled in school and doing an apprenticeship part time. If you’re not in school you can’t access any resources either.

      Would be really interested in your findings!

  2. The Flying T Ranch

    The interview I did was a scholarship interview, not research. However, we’ve been homeschooling for 10 years now over four assignments the US and overseas. It’s definitely challenging, but the options for other activities in the community and in conjunction with other “Traditional” schooling venues (understanding that the truly traditional school model is homeschooling) continues to increase.

    I’m only lightly familiar with the Aussie school system. My siblings all attended school down under for several years while my family lived there, but as I was in Uni at the time, I only was there for extended school breaks.


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