National Council of Home Educators New Zealand

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I thought I would share a great resource if you happen to be a home educator in New Zealand.  It is the National Council of Home Educators New Zealand.

If you click through on the logo to the left you will be taken to a wealth of information on all aspects of home education in New Zealand.

It’s really great stuff if you are in the contemplation stage as there are plenty of links to a large number of resources, both physical and online.  And if you are already under way there is still plenty there for you to brush up on, especially in the regulation and review areas.

Even better, it is being continually updated, and is totally free to join as an individual.  Simply fill out the form and you will be invited in to the community and will gain access to some excellent resources at NCHENZ prices.

So what are you waiting for?  Head over and sign up!  Join the community.

Disclaimer:  I’ve recently joined the NCHENZ committee, so I am slightly biased.  From now on when there are any significant issues or information of use to the home education community, I will probably be posting about it here under the Category NCHENZ.

Exemption III

85px-Document-passed.svgSo, on the 15th of July the local MoE office wrote us a letter.

We now have our exemption to homeschool Miss Oh Waily.

I will not tell you that it went smoothly, as it didn’t.  We were requested to provide more information, and frankly I think a little better training in public relations around the manner in which concepts are communicated would not go amiss.

While I thought that our original exemption was pretty thorough, and we received very positive feedback from exemption-writing veterans, we still had a gap or so to fill apparently.  So fill it we did.

However, I must say that the letter writer should perhaps re-take English and work on the tone of her communication.  Seriously, the phrase “There appears to be little academic learning occurring…” is not the most polite way in which to approach the issue of being unable to assess a regularity statement that does not involve a timetable.
Frankly both Mr Oh and I were more than a little miffed about that.  And even more so when we received back the email clarification of what was meant by “academic learning”.  Slightly gobsmacked actually.  Especially in light of the statements made throughout the application regarding the eclectic approach we are taking.  (i.e. we do “formal teaching” of some areas as well as integrated learning of ALL areas.)

Here is the definition as received:

“By this we mean structured lessons where there is formal teaching, particularly in the core curriculum areas of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences.”

To heck with the Arts then! (And don’t get me started on the Sciences!)
As I said to some friends following the receipt of this:
Poor old Mozart then, eh?  Don’t waste your time learning to tinkle on that harpischord boy!  It won’t get you a job in the real world!

Personally my kids aren’t overly musical (in a practical “playing it” way) but they love to listen, dance and sing.  And we do that regularly.  It’s called having fun and your Mum subjecting you to more than nursery music.  You get to hear new languages and sometimes use them, you get to integrate different cultures or historical eras (you know, those pesky social sciences we’re not teaching) into your knowledge bank.  Yeah, I knew my love of jazz, blues and pretty much all sorts of music would come in useful some time.

I have to be honest and say that I find that definition narrow-minded and outdated.   I can’t imagine my life without those whose talents are to be found in the Fine Arts.  What of musicians, artists, actors and their ilk.  Heaven forfend that children be exposed to the full idea of a liberal education from an early age.  What was I thinking?

Oh yes, that I must not teach my kids to read or do maths.  Come on.  Really?  We choose to follow the national curriculum of one of the top 5 countries in the world (for mathematics results) and you think we might be disinterested in teaching academic subjects?  Between us the Oh Waily parents have three degrees and two post-graduate diplomas.  We really couldn’t give a flying toss about academia then.  Or continual learning.  Or following your interests.

The mind boggles.

Really.  It does.

Still, with a bit of a nudge and a bit of standing our ground on the regularity statement (i.e. repeating ourselves with a smidgen more clarity – since clearly the reader didn’t quite pick up on the information first time around) we got there in the end.  Essentially without compromise, just a touch more clarity & with a tone of being offended.  Which we were.

So there we are.  Official homeschoolers from Miss Oh’s next birthday.  Yay!

Exemption

The countdown begins…

It is two and a half months until Miss Oh Waily turns six.  By which time I need to have written an application for, and received back, the Ministry of Education’s exemption certificate.

What does it exempt?  It exempts us from having to place Miss Oh Waily in school.

For any Kiwis thinking about going down this educational road, this is the current link to the documents you will need to read, fill out and understand in order to have the opportunity to teach your children at home.

This will be my first application, obviously, and I’m just a tad nervous about constructing it.  I expect to be asked to clarify, add information and generally fluff about until the assessing officer is happy with the result.  When I am done, and successful*, I will post a copy here.

If you’ve applied before feel free to leave a comment with advice or suggestions.  I’m always interested in learning how others do things.

Righto.  I’m off to start the process of formulating the ideas which will become the basis of my application.  Wish me luck.


* I will be successful, even if it means re-writing until the MoE are satisfied.

The MoE goes online

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Well, not The Ministry themselves of course.  They’ve had a website since forever.  But they have finally caught up with the rest of the world and have put the homeschool exemption application form and details up for “easy” access.

For those thinking about homeschooling in New Zealand, here’s where you should head to get the forms required to apply.  The link has also been added to my Resources page for future reference.

Only another six months and I’ll have to be seriously thinking about writing one of these.  Is it really that soon?  Wow, time flies.

Exemptions

Well I have finally started to think about what I’m going to be doing in about six months time.  My head is no longer buried in any sand of denial.  I have to give some serious thought to what I am going to tell the Ministry of Education.  They will want to know that I plan to teach my kids as well as and regularly as a school.

Somehow I don’t think they’ll take a vague answer and waffly ideas as enough proof of my competence to teach my own kid.  So I have to take a trip on my time machine and transport my brain back to the days where writing clearly understandable submissions, usually in the form of essays, was a regular part of life.

Thankfully a lovely lady I have met through the homeschool group here in Wellington offered to share one of her exemption letters with me.  So I have finally seen a document that the Ministry of Education thought a suitable explanation of what their family was going to be doing.  What a relief.

Now having read their document does not mean that my exemption letter will take a similar road, but it does give me some ideas of what could be acceptable.   So for me it is now a case of sitting down and nutting out each of the required sections.  What is enough to say, but not be hamstrung by?  How to explain that we will be following her needs rather than a set timetable?  How to deal with the dreaded “as regularly”?

Oh, and I believe there is going to be changes to the forms shortly.  That could add to the fun of working out just what to say, and how much to say.  I doubt that the MoE officer will want a 1500 word essay on the topic of my daughter’s education, but neither will a paltry 150 word statement of intent do.   Ah, so that’s how I should approach this – like an assignment for university – give them enough information and supporting argument and she’ll be right.

More on this topic as I work out what really matters, and where we are headed.

The Forms

Well, with a little less than a month to go before Miss Oh Waily turns five I couldn’t contain myself anymore.  I sent an email off to the local Ministry of Education office and requested the forms needed to apply for an exemption certificate.

Now, before you nice local homeschoolers jump into the comments section…
Yes, I know that I do not have to apply until shortly before her 6th birthday.  Quite why we cannot get it over and done with at the same time that other children are heading off for their first day in the school system I’m not quite sure.  Fine, the legislation is clear that they need to be in school from 6 years old, but since the “norm” is to head off there at 5 it seems a shame that the same transition cannot be given to homeschoolers too.

Anyway, my reason for getting the forms so ridiculously early (a whole year, more or less) is to understand what I will be needing to fill out.  Listening in on the conversations online about gaining exemptions I have been wondering if there was going to be a daunting and unwelcoming overtone to the paperwork, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The accompanying letter was extremely civil and welcoming.  The form itself is brief and will present no challenge.  Now I just need to sit down and spend the next year working out exactly what I shall be saying to the Ministry officials and how we will demonstrate our capability and intention to teach our children at least as well and as regularly as the school system.

I am grateful to have joined the local network support group and a couple of online, Facebook, groups as well.  I’m sure, when the time comes, that I will be able to count on the support and advice of many experienced homeschoolers.  In the meantime I think our first year of unofficial homeschooling will be spent with me working out just what we are going to do, and how we are going to do it.  Then the tricky part – get it down on paper in an easy to understand way that truly reflects our family.

Wish me luck, I can see that getting this bit sorted in my head and from there on to the paperwork is going to be something of a lengthy work in progress.

How easy (or hard) did you find it to file your exemption application?   What made the difference, do you think, to getting your vision across clearly?