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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Application Example for Home Education Registration in Queensland

Our application for home education has been deemed appropriate as is and has been sent to the minister with a recommendation for full registration. When I started the application process I had no idea how to write it up. I found some helpful assistance through Beverly Paine's Getting Started with Home Schooling and I consumed home school blogs to get an idea of what others were doing.

What I really wanted was a real life example of a home education application to Queensland Education. Unable to source anything, I provided what I thought I would need when assessing the quality of an home educational program. Feedback from the Home Education unit was that while my application package was thorough, it was more than they required.

Our home school application package follows. I hope that it is of some use to other beginning home schoolers.

(A cover letter and the completed Queensland Home Education proforma preceded the following information)

Items 1 – 5. Completed on green application form that is attached to this document.

Item 6. Details of the Child’s Program

Educational Philosophy.

  • Education is a life long process.

  • Education is holistic with areas of environmental and self-care being as important as classical learning.

  • Teachable moments present themselves throughout the day and when capitalized upon offer enjoyable and non focused educational learning.

  • Home education is learning a variety of skills in many settings and in many ways.

  • Education is multi faceted and accessible from a variety of support people with an array of different educational backgrounds, areas of expertise and different views on life.

  • Natural learning occurs when a student is relaxed, happy and in an environment of safety.

  • We are co-learners rather than teachers. We facilitate a learning process and encourage empowerment by enabling the student to accept that we do not know everything, that our way is not the only way and that there is learning available to all of us by accessing community, individuals and institutions.

  • We recognize that by making the student the instructor at times, a wealth of knowledge will be gained for the student and a measurable increase in the students self esteem will become visible.

  • Any situation is a possible teachable moment. To seize the teachable moment and deliver it in a way that will capture the interest of the student, is a role that we take on as co-learners.

  • Just as there are different types of intelligence, there are different types of education. Our goal as home educators is to offer balance across areas of intelligence and educational frameworks.

  • A progression from knowledge reception to higher learning evaluation occurs when:educational material is presented in a palatable way designed to a student’s specific learning needs; when the learning environment is charged with a air of enquiry across all learning partners; and when the traditional focus moves from fact retainment to fact appreciation.

    Short-term goals:
  • To set age and developmentally appropriate, monthly, rich task focused variables across each of the learning areas of English, Mathematics, SOSE, Science, HPE, Technology, Arts, and LOTE. For example: In four weeks time you will be able to talk, for five minutes, to a group of other people, on why rainforest trees have wide and thick leaves. Or, in four weeks time you will be able to write, spell check and publish your own 300 word blog about what you learnt by visiting the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah.

  • To develop an emotional toolbox for Boy to use at times when he is unsure of what is expected of him or his behaviour.

  • To reduce Boy’s anxiety and to increase his self esteem.

  • To reignite an interest in education as a worthwhile activity.

  • To increase Boy’s levels of educational attainment in reading, spelling and comprehension.

  • To put the fun and learning back into an educational process.

  • To develop a holistic educational program that covers personal and learning needs.

    Long term goals:
  • For Boy to be able to learn in a classroom environment.

  • For Boy to be able to cope with and survive change.

  • For Boy to match his peers at traditionally accepted educational levels.

  • For Boy to be able to go back to a traditional school without experiencing constant Aspergers melt downs.

  • For Boy to have an appreciation of strategy, empathy and other people’s needs.

  • For Boy to have developed as a person, to have developed in his educational achievements and to have developed an understanding of how he learns best.

What is the broad education program and or learning philosophy you think you might be following?

Given that Boy responds well to a natural environment where there is no stress or over stimulus, we intend to combine elements of Natural learning (Holt) and Steiner with Maths curricula input from the Qld Syllabus and thematic projects based on Social Stories (Carol Gray).

Individualize the plan:

Our educational plan for Boy is based upon recommendations contained in the report from Minds and Hearts (specialist Aspergers clinic in Brisbane). This report is attached as Appendix 1.

It has been apparent for years that Boy struggles in a classroom environment and that relationships and friendships are difficult for him. A critique of our choice to not home educate has been a lack of social interaction. While we appreciate the concern of others, Boy’s disorder means that he views social interactions differently. He is unable to form friendships the way we do. Therefore, we intend to capitalize upon social activities that he already enjoys (Robotics club, Kendo and Laser Tag) and build some new ones into the home education program. Boy is keen to learn about gems so we will join the local Lapidary club as an alternative form of education and social interaction.

Boy struggles (hates) with reading, spelling and comprehension. Attending a busy, noisy library is difficult for Boy. As an author, I have professional access to the children’s librarian. I aim to request a private tour of the closed library and a one on one hands-on tutorial of searching, finding and checking out books. In return, I will offer a chapter read that Boy can also attend and give him a helping task on the day. Similarly, my access to other famous Australian authors (Margaret Clarke and Louisa Dent) can provide Boy with author information and contact that other children would never have access to. Margaret Clarke has sent me one of her latest books to reviews. Although it is focused at girl readers and contains scenes about incest, I will request Boy to provide email feedback to Margaret from a boy’s perspective.

While Boy enjoys and is average in Math, the textbooks create an over stimulus and melt down process in him. Even though we will base Math learning on the year level appropriate Math book, my partner (an accountant) will redesign the activities to make them appear effortless and non school focused. My partner will be responsible for imparting Math learning and will capitalize upon Boy’s natural penchant for computer learning. Textbook activities will be redesigned to encompass spreadsheets and analysis.

Boy does not like to write but loves to play on the computer. Therefore, we have purchased him a laptop for Christmas and he can word process all of his assignments, place photographs, and manipulate the presentation of said assignments.

Do you need to modify your child’s program?

Boy’s educational program is designed to fit his unique needs due to having Aspergers. Reading, spelling and comprehension will be based upon his current level of achievement rather than his educational year level. We have sought out spelling lists and work sheets for the Year 3 level and will master these words (100% accuracy) prior to moving onto more age appropriate word lists.

Teaching and Learning

We have all agreed upon home education occurring every morning from 9 to 12. I will be the principal educator and will draw in the expertise of others as required. My partner will educate in Math one day per week. The time frame has been achieved to create a boundary for Boy. He detests school to the point that he will be clock watching. Therefore, by attacking any formalized work sheet or projects during this time structure, we are then left with the evening to incorporate natural learning tenets into our family life. For example, cooking with Boy or watching a documentary on the plight of the Panda, will be reported upon but he will have no idea that it is part of his school day.

We have turned our dining room into a home education area. In the afternoons, I will work from home and Boy will have free time to pursue his computer games.

Boy has been granted two hours per week Youth Worker hours through the Early Intervention Service. The Youth Worker will be addressing anger management, social skills and recreational activities. These two hours will become a home education session and will occur on a set morning, once a week.

The many excursions that we have planned will occur at the time-frames of our accommodating friends (e.g. the environmental scientist field trip mentioned earlier). These will not be framed as educational activities to Boy, but rather, as privileges that we are all lucky to have. These privileges will be solid learning but will be in addition to our nominated educational hours.

Excursions connected to the rich task learning will occur during our nominated school times. For example, if we are studying reef fish, a trip to the reef and a glass bottom boat trip would be considered as a home school activity. Therefore, the allocated learning time for that day would be taken up by the excursion.

Once a month, if the rich tasks have been met, Boy will be rewarded with a local trip of his choice. This may be a session at Go Carts or Cable Skiing (both of which offer valuable learning) and will be outside of nominated home education hours.

We are fortunate to have a number of friends who are educators and curriculum development specialists. Although we have not yet needed assistance from these people, they have offered objective advise or guidance should we require it.

Learning areas covered:

See The Home School Year Planner

Assessment and Reporting

Boy’s progression will be measured initially against his willingness to school. Once we have a variety of worksheets to use as a platform, progression will be measured against his own work achievements.

Checklists on a number of web sites have been used as a guide to establish where Boy’s peers would be learning at. While these checklists remain as a check only, they also provide us with a goal to work toward progression and higher learning.

We will be having monthly tests: a mixed bag of Boy reporting on what he has done and learned. Rewards for reaching 50, 60, 70 80, 90 and 100% will be metered out at the end of the test. One hundred percent correct answers will result in an overnight visit to a place of Boy’s choice (the first one of choice is a trip to Charters Towers to do some gold panning).

We started a home schooling blog (http://homeschoolingaspergers.blogspot.com/) when we first decided to home school Boy (Nov, 2006). The blog acts as both our home school diary and our reporting mechanism. The public nature of the blog ensures transparency and a call for help/participation with other home schoolers. Sample blog entries and articles done by Boy are attached as Appendix 2

During November and December of 2007, we home schooled Boy two days per week. During the school holidays, we encouraged a culture of enquiry by treating every outing as a teachable moment. These were all recorded on the blog. Since we formally began our process of home education on January 29, 2007, every school day and home education related activities have been recorded on the blog.

Copies of all worksheets completed are kept in our filing cabinet. Similarly, writing, book lists, spelling, and art work is photographed and, where possible, kept on file.

Social Skills and Extra Curricula activities

Boy already attends Robotics Club, Kendo and Laser Tag. These activities will continue throughout 2007. He also has an adult mentor through Cairns Youth Mentoring Service. He meets with this person fortnightly and they work on computer game strategies and other activities of interest (bowling, fishing).

Boy is currently attending a youth group through the Early Intervention Service. This group runs for seven weeks and concentrates on challenging behaviours, self esteem and anger management. Their flier is attached as appendix 3. Further, the youth worker plan from Early Intervention Service is also attached as Appendix 4.

Teaching Resources:

Internet and free worksheets are used to maximum degree. I have paid to join Teaching Treasures and buy worksheets that are suited to our thematic study units.

Human resources are heavily utilized to make learning fun and for specialist knowledge and material not readily available in stores.

Math follows “Go Math” level 6.

Our home schooling blog lists the resource sites that we use most regularly:
Sites we like and use frequently
A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling Web Site
Assessment Learning
Beverley Paine's Homeschool Australia.
Home Schooling Information
Homeschool Australia Blog
Ragamuffin Studies
Sculpey (clay)
Wrong Planet (The online resource and Community for those with Asperger's Syndrome)

Learning Environment:

Boy lives in a home where education is valued. Both my partner and I have tertiary degrees and I teach part time at University. Our social networks are highly motivated and intelligent people with a range of specialist expertise. My mother, a frequent home school support, is a retired social worker and my brother has several degrees (Education, Anthropology, Archeology and has just exited the S.A.S).

Boy has his own office space, laptop with broadband and network to a colour laser printer.

One wall of our lounge room is dedicated as a “grouse” wall: anything of value to any family member can be placed on this wall. This is the nominated place of display for Boy’s home education projects and learning hints.

Given the natural beauty of the area we reside in, we are concentrating heavily on natural learning tenets and visit places of educational worth regularly (Great Barrier Reef, rainforest, wind farms, etc).

Context and process:

Boy has Aspergers (Pediatric assessment attached as Appendix 5). Although he is very bright, he appears to be unable to learn the way other children do. Our intention is to deliver education in a way that best suits him. He shows a preference for retaining information delivered in a natural and non-educative way. Samples of his very recent work at home are attached as Appendix6.

Boy values one on one, adult relationships and will naturally gravitate toward a person who offers him respect and information. For example, at a recent dinner party, Boy gravitated toward a male guest who holds a PhD in geology. Boy is a keen rock collector and he shared his collection with our guest. Boy and the guest spent the evening discussing how the different types of rock, minerals and gems were formed, where they are found, and what conditions are present for them to develop. Boy has retained all of this information and is able to repeat it to us.

We are fortunate to have a host of intelligent and generous friends who are considered expert in their field. It is our intention to use our friendships to assist in educating Boy. This has been discussed with many of those friends and plans have begun to include Boy and his particular needs into field trips, farm visits and visiting workshops. For example, we have already arranged with a senior environmental scientist for Boy to attend their next field trip to assist them in counting and identifying bugs. Boy is excited by this and has not yet made the connection between it being a home education exercise.

Obsessions are typical for people with Aspergers. Boy becomes obsessional over things that he enjoys. We aim to create a flexible home education program that will allow us to naturally work through his obsessions. The monthly rich task focused criteria will guide the learning to ensure that Boy’s obsession stays focused and functional.

Boy has poor personal hygiene and a good deal of the first terms focus will be on ensuring the visual cues for teeth cleaning, hair washing, changing clothes, etc. The Aspergers clinic in Brisbane has supplied several ideas on how to achieve improved personal hygiene and we will build these into our school day.

Should you require any further evidence or material from us, please don not hesitate to contact.

We look forward to entering into a learning partnership with you.

Megan Bayliss (BSW, Dip SOC, MAASW)

6 comments:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Wow!

And all I had to do here in NM is put my name in a blank on a webpage, give the county and school district, affirm that I have at least a high school diploma or GED, give the age of my child, and promise that I would educate him at least 180 days a year and keep a copy of his immunizations record at home.

There are some advantages to living in the 'wild' west!

Megan Bayliss said...

There are many days I wish I was living in the Wild West!!!! However, it has been a good experience for me thinking through all my values around education and the process forced me to design a program that would suit boy and let me know where we are supposed to be at.
Today though, we are having meltdowns (me too - not just him). Australian history is not nearly as exciting as WoW and guess which one I gave into because I just cannot tolerate the conflict!!!!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Sigh.

We all have those days!

Sprittibee said...

Man. I enjoyed reading it, but I think I need a nap now. ;) I'm from Texas (the other Oz) and am sooooooooooo glad that they don't require ANYTHING at all of parents! Of course, I am an avid record keeper and we are very active homeschoolers (Unit Study Methods)... but I think I would have a meltdown if I had to provide all that to a school district. A good friend of mine in TX is homeschooling her Asperger son. They are coming to visit me soon here in Arkansas where we currently live. Have you read the book, "The Mislabeled Child"? I think you would enjoy it. It has great information about tips for kids with different learning styles and learning disabilities. I am reading it right now and am about to do a book review on my site about it.

Megan Bayliss said...

Hi SB
I have heard so much about "The Mislabeled Child" but I haven't yet found a copy. I think I'll have to order it from overseas.

You think you needed a nap after reading: writing up out learning plans I had to have several thinking naps!!! It was an effort but I was glad I had to go through the process as it made me really think through all the issues.

Take care and stay safe.

Kaber said...

Althought I am glad I do not LEGALLY need to fill out paperwork and questions like that... I think it is a GREAT THING for me (and others) to have thought and planned out this stuff anyway! I good, detailed plan is very importnat--- in my analytical mind... You did a GREAT JOB! and I need to start something like this soon ofr our upcoming school year!

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