Family positive about home learning
Homeschooling is not just for children who live in remote corners of New Zealand, far from the nearest school.
There are a number of city residents who choose to educate their children at home.
On the Ministry of Education’s homeschooling database there were 6568 students recorded as being homeschooled as of July 1, 2012. Of those students 1528 live in the Auckland region.
It’s a lifestyle choice that works for one family. Rowena Schuster chose to stay home and educate her children Nehemiah, 8, and Joses, 6, instead of sending them to school.
It’s not common in her Samoan community so when she tells friends and family they are often surprised.
Some people think because they learn at home her boys won’t get to socialise enough, but that’s not true, the 35-year-old says.
‘‘We go to church and they know everybody’s names. They go to swimming lessons and everyone in their group is their friend.
‘‘They probably have more friends than your typical kids who go to school because we are involved in a whole bunch of different activities.’’
The former music teacher has worked at schools across Auckland.
More recently she and her husband Taulu have worked in adult education with youth at risk.
He is a pastor at Every Nation Church in Newton and she helps out there at weekends. When they decided to start a family, the Schusters knew they wanted to homeschool their children, she says.
‘‘We don’t have anything against school but we wanted to teach our kids ourselves. No-one knows them as well as we do.
‘‘We understand them, we know their tendencies, their learning styles. That isn’t possible in a classroom with so many other kids.’’
By law from the age of 6, children must either be enrolled at school or their parents must apply for a certificate of exemption.
The Ministry of Education
sti- pulates that children who are homeschooled must be taught at least as regularly and at least as well as within the school system.
In the Schusters’ case the day usually begins with a Bible reading. Then they dedicate a few hours to reading, writing, maths and science. Music and sports are slotted in a few times a week.
Last year Mrs Schuster joined the support network Auckland Home Educators. It’s made her realise how many other people have made the same choice.
‘‘I’ve met so many different mums and heard about so many different things that are available for homeschooling through the group.’’
Member Erin Parkinson says families who home school are a varied bunch.
‘‘If you go along to a homeschooling event you’ve got the full range of parents the same as you do at any school.
‘The way parents run their school day and the resources they choose to use is up to the individual,’’ she says.
Rowena Schuster says homeschooling is the right choice for her sons Nehemiah, left, and Joses.