Fam­ily pos­i­tive about home learn­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABADIA

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.

Photo: KA­RINA ABADIA

Learn­ing to­gether:

Rowena Schus­ter says homeschool­ing is the right choice for her sons Ne­hemiah, left, and Joses.

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