Lifestyle

Outside the regular classes

Bli Bli’s Kunam Mani has chosen to home school her son, Nimai Prasad, 5.
Bli Bli’s Kunam Mani has chosen to home school her son, Nimai Prasad, 5. Brett Wortman

THE belief home school and distance education children are weird, unsocialised and not able to go to uni is an old-school way of thinking and a stigma Coast parents are eager to quash.

Kunam Mani preferred distance education over home schooling for her son Nimai as the curriculum was set by the Brisbane School of Distance Education and marked by a distance education teacher.

"I do self-directed learning as well ... that's the beauty of it, I can adjust the curriculum to suit his needs while still meeting the school's requirements," she said.

"The one-on-one attention has been really marvellous and I know him well in terms of how his mind works.

"It's been really enjoyable watching him grow and it really surprised me at times with what he knows."

On the other hand, Merryn Cosgrove of Eudlo found home schooling to be more suitable for her 10-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.

"My son was already a fluent reader at four years old. He taught himself to read," she said.

"He did go to kindy and his teacher said you'll have trouble finding a school to keep him stimulated, he was already versed in reading."

Mrs Cosgrove enrolled her son in school for six months, but found it wasn't working.

"He wasn't stimulated enough and we felt we could do as good a job and we were catering to his own needs," she said.

"Same with our daughter, the more we started into home schooling, the more we realised it was a fantastic option."

Not only could Mrs Cosgrove choose the curriculum, she had the luxury of tailoring it to her children's needs and ability to move through the program at their own pace.

Ms Mani's son also went to a local kindy, but found he would be a bit lost in a classroom and not be attentive enough in a group situation.

She feared he would fly under the radar and not meet his full potential.

"Because of his nature I know he would have been somebody with difficulty in a normal classroom," she said.

"I didn't want that to happen, if he wasn't reaching his full potential, that's the worst feeling as a parent.

"I wanted him to get a running start and a positive educational experience."

Ms Mani said she found distance education to be more suitable as Nimai would absorb knowledge while he was fully alert.

"The other advantage is I get to spend a lot of time with him, which is really important," she said.

Mrs Cosgrove agreed, saying there were more benefits to home schooling than just the education.

"It's the lifestyle, it's all about family unity, the children feel safe and cared for and that's going to help them grow up to be confident adults," she said.

Ms Mani said while it was tempting to keep Nimai in distance education until he hit university, she decided to enrol him in Year 1 next year, knowing he now had the attention span, confidence and skills to do his best.

"I would hate to see him slip behind, so I will be keeping an eye on him and supplementing things at home as necessary," she said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Cosgrove's children will remain home schooled until the end of primary school.

"If they both want to go to high school and give it a try, we'll do that, otherwise we'll continue through to the end," she said.

"One of the big myths about home schooling is, 'what about uni?' But they can get into uni, there are different options."

Another misconception was the socialisation of home schooled and distance education children.

But Ms Mani said Nimai wasn't missing out on anything and interacted with kids on a weekly basis at music, gym and swim lessons and informal play dates with friends.

He also meets up with other distance education students through the Brisbane School of Distance Education's regular enrichment days and sports days.

Mrs Cosgrove said there was an increasing number of home schooling families on the Coast who met on a weekly basis to ensure the children had regular social interaction, they also organised frequent excursions.

"There are hundreds of home schooling families on the Sunshine Coast," she said.

"If only more people knew what it was like, they would think about doing it themselves."

Mrs Cosgrove is organising a home schooling seminar, dispelling myths including entry to university and socialisation.

To find out more, contact her at hotchilliwoman1@dodo.com.au.

Topics:  distance education, home schooling


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