Here is a snapshot of what homeschooling is like for NSW mum Myfanwy Dibben and her two children, Pi and e.
“In the wintertime, when it’s freezing cold, we’re at home, having a nice hot chocolate, reading Harry Potter, in front of a fire, drawing some pictures, listening to Harry Potter theme music from Spotify,” she tells Mamamia.
“It’s just delightful and lovely and everyone’s engaged.”
Dibben is a teacher. She began researching homeschooling when her daughter Pi was just one year old.
Dibben put Pi into kindergarten, but took her out after less than a year. In that short time, Pi was bullied. That hasn’t been a problem with homeschooling.
“It turns out you make really good humans if you take the bullying out,” Dibben says.
But bullying wasn’t the reason that Dibben decided to homeschool. She did it because she thought her daughter would get a better education.
“It enables the child to learn at their own pace,” she explains. “It enables the child to develop without peer pressure.
“You’re well fed, you’re well rested, you’re able to choose how you work each day and you don’t have any bells that stop the learning.”
Dibben says she bases her children’s education on history, covering ancient history in Grade 1, up to modern history in Grade 4, then returning to ancient history.
“That gives a framework for all of the knowledge of the world to be linked to,” she says. “Science comes from that, historical novels... Pi read 18 novels last year on ancient history.”
This year, Dibben decided to put her children into school for a year. Pi is currently in a Year Six class for academically gifted kids.
“It was for Pi to have an experience of school again, just to get it out of her system,” she explains. “She’s quite happy to be home educated. She appreciates the liberty that she has. She’s doing fine.”
Homeschooling is on the rise in Australia – and it’s a rapid rise. The number of children being homeschooled has jumped by more than 80 per cent in the past six years, according to figures published in The Australian.
Close to 20,000 children are currently registered for homeschooling. However, Dibben, who is on the committee of the Home Education Association, believes that the real number of kids being taught at home is probably at least twice as high as that.
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She says a “huge” reason for people choosing to homeschool is that their children have special needs.
“The kids are not actually getting what they need in the classroom,” she adds.
There are also families who homeschool for religious reasons, and those who take their children out of school because of relentless bullying. Then there are those, like Dibben, who just believe their children are better off being educated at home. Dibben feels certain that the number of parents turning to homeschooling will continue to rise, “simply because the classroom situation is not being fixed”.
As a casual teacher working in high schools, she’s seen the problems that a few disruptive students in a classroom can cause.
“They destroy the lesson,” she says. “The behaviours in class are so appalling now.”
Dibben says parents don’t need to be trained teachers to homeschool their kids.
“As far as teaching your own child is concerned, trust that the child can learn on their own, and they absolutely can. What you should be teaching your child is how to teach themselves.”
Next year, it’s back to homeschooling for Dibben, Pi and e.
“It’s such a lovely way to do it,” she says.