Families choose to homeschool for many and varied reasons, meaning the community holds a cross section of beliefs and philosophies about life and learning. The old stereotype of a fundamentalist religious family glued to their kitchen table, doing sums from 9-3, is very much blown out of the water by the vast array of contemporary families using the most up-to-date resourcing to provide expansive educational opportunities for their children and community.
For the majority, the ability to tailor each child’s education to their individual needs is the main drawcard in homeschooling. This can be for specific reasons such as giftedness, or special educational needs or simply to make learning efficient and inspiring. Some families follow a particular philosophy such as Unschooling, Steiner or Waldorf principles, or take a more Classical approach. There is no requirement to follow the current NZ curriculum, and many families do choose not to.
Applying to Homeschool Your Child
As children in New Zealand do not have to be enrolled in school prior to their sixth birthday, applying for an exemption from school from the MOE can only be done shortly before this time. The MOE recommend you submit your application around 3-6 weeks before this date.
The application forms can be sent out to you via a call to your local MOE office, or are now available for download here.
Your Child/ren’s Home Education Plan
The exemption application requires you to set out specifically your family’s plan for how you will reach the legal requirement to teach ‘as regularly and as well as a registered school’.
Currently you must complete a separate application for each child, tailored to that child.
You cannot submit the same plan for each child in your family. While the interpretation of these applications by the MOE is subjective, and does vary between offices and staff members, most families receive their exemptions either first time, or after answering a few minor queries.
Once you have your exemption from school approved you will then be entitled to a supervisory allowance per child paid six monthly. The amounts for this per annum are first child $743, second child $632, third child $521 and subsequent children $372. (This is the same allowance paid to correspondence school families, who also have their curriculum, resources and marking supplied. Homeschoolers receive no resource funding at all.)
Every six months, you will be required to sign a statutory declaration, declaring you are meeting your legal obligations, in front of a witness, such as a JP or police officer.
In Mainstream School Already?
It is important to note that if your child is already enrolled in school, you must obtain an exemption prior to removing them from school or they will be considered truant.
Currently homeschoolers are subject to ERO review only as/when required. Previously all homeschoolers were randomly reviewed by ERO as standard, but due to the tiny number of issues (0.3% of cases needed further scrutiny) this was cancelled due to cost/efficiency.
We are lucky in New Zealand to have a huge network of area and regional ‘support’ groups. These groups provide vital networking, social and educational opportunities for students and parents. Many of these groups are free or can be joined at minimal cost. Activities vary from programming and robotics to sewing, from soccer to trampolining, circus school to museum visits, coffee groups to science fairs, camps, balls etc. There are various email loops which provide vital support networks for those with questions, for resource sharing, selling/buying resources and setting up activities. There is a list here (not exhaustive) of many of these groups, listed by area.
by Darnia Hobson
For more information, refer to The National Council of Home Educators New Zealand website, here.