Home' Northern Outlook : October 20th 2012 Contents 10 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, OCTOBER 20, 2012
LEARNING BY PLAY: Henry, 6, Matty, 3, and Ben, 4, play in their
Home study ticks all
the boxes for families
While the number of
Canterbury has been
dropping the last few
years, for some families
it is still the only choice.
ABBIE NAPIER asks
them about the myths
education and what it
takes to be a teacher
and a parent.
GIFTED: Rozyczka Schimanski
studying at home.
HOME STUDY: Twins Nicholas, left, and Andrew study at the dining room table.
I only need to know how
he is doing. Comparing
and measuring is for
politicians.'' Nadia Sole
HOMESCHOOLING has always
been viewed with suspicion by
those looking from the outside in.
Disparagers cite the perils of
poorly socialised'' children,
religious extremism and over-
Supporters proclaim its
triumphs -- polite teenagers with
good time management, a func-
tional family life, and a tailored
However, the number of chil-
dren being homeschooled, both in
Canterbury and nationwide, has
dropped off in recent years.
Since 2009, Canterbury has
seen an 8 per cent decrease in
homeschooled children -- double
the 4 per cent drop nationally.
We spoke to three families
about their decision to homeschool
Kay Besuyen only moved to
North Canterbury a few months
ago. She has relocated her family
and her homeschool to Woodend.
Some homeschool families choose
to educate their children using the
standard New Zealand curriculum
(used in many schools). Others,
like Kay, choose to create their
own curriculum using the appeal-
ing parts of a range of inter-
Kay's twin boys, Andrew and
Nicholas, 15, follow a tailored
curriculum based on a Christian
Kay finds study resources from
all over the world and uses the
recommendations of other
Because you can be so flexible
with their learning, you could be
slack, but why would you? You're
setting your kids up for life.''
Kay follows a more structured
routine with study and activities,
including core subjects like Eng-
lish and maths.
The Besuyens moved to Wood-
end when the earthquake
destroyed their Avondale home.
I like it, it's a change of pace,''
she said. Homeschooling is not
the easy way out, you have to keep
on top of it.''
Both boys have found friends
through group activities, church,
and other homeschool families.
For Kay, the charge that her
children will not be well social-
ised'' is absurd.
It's so ridiculous. Homeschool-
ing doesn't mean you live on a
Like other homeschool teens,
both Andrew and Nicholas are
polite and can easily hold a
conversation with adults.
They don't grunt.''
There are plenty of options for
education approaches, with every-
one choosing the best fit for their
On the other end of the scale,
Nadia Sole is new to homeschool-
ing and has just started working
with her oldest son, Henry, 6.
Ben, 4, and Matty, 3, will follow in
their big brother's footsteps in a
year or two.
Nadia dismissed the prejudices
associated with homeschooling.
It has become more main-
stream,'' she said. It used to be
associated with gypsies in buses,
but we have a really rich life. I'm
not walking around in long
Nadia was introduced to
homeschooling through her older
sister, who has three kids in
homeschool and two more in a few
I've seen my nieces and neph-
ews grow up to be really lovely,
well-adjusted teens. My sister
paved the way for us, really,'' she
Nadia's children are still young
so she is teaching through play at
the moment, as well as teaching
Henry to read and write.
We wanted them to learn
through real-life experience
rather than artificial experiences
which mean very little to them,''
A school day can include Nadia
and the boys going to the super-
market, pricing and buying
ingredients for dinner, which they
then go home and cook. She plans
to add structure to their lessons as
they grow older, and doesn't worry
about standard education levels.
I only need to know how he is
doing,'' she said. Comparing and
measuring is for teachers and
While Nadia's sister Rachelle
has taken a religion-based
approach to home schooling,
Nadia is so far following a more
The beauty of home school is
you can change your approach at
any time, whatever works.
Rachelle and I have different
approaches, but she's still there
The idea of socialising her
children in the community has
huge appeal for Nadia, who can
see the results in her sister's chil-
There's an assumption that at
school, kids lumped in a class of
25 will be socialised purely
because the kids have a birthday
in the same year,'' Nadia said.
I'd prefer my kids were social-
ised in the community, talking to
real people, the elderly, babies,
whoever. They make friends like
Sharon Schimanski lives in St
Albans and homeschools daughter
Rozyczka, 11, who she says was
labelled gifted'' at an early age.
Rozyczka taught herself to
read. It's the bright child situ-
ation, so we thought we'd try
home educating for a while, and
we never stopped.''
Sharon is a registered primary
school teacher and is familiar with
the New Zealand curriculum,
which she uses at home.
I happen to think we've got a
world class system, so for me it's
not about thinking school isn't
good enough, it's a personal choice
for our daughter.''
homeschooling seems the closest
to mainstream schooling -- same
curriculum, secular approach.
But the decision to go secular
has impacted on the family's
homeschool network. A lack of
shared faith has made penetrat-
ing some circles very difficult.
Most homeschooling families
are religious, and we just couldn't
get our heads around that in the
end. With Christian families, you
never get past level one because
their faith gets in the way, so
we've found a few families we do
like and we've stuck with them.''
Rozyczka has always been free
to go to school, but chooses to
remain at home. She is involved in
plenty of activities outside her
studies -- music, Girl Guides and
To find out more about home
schooling, check out minedu.
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