According to Drabsch (2013) the three principle reasons home-based educating families do not register with the state are:
- Parents don’t want to follow the state curriculum;
- Parents don’t believe the state should dictate the curriculum; and
- Parents resent any intrusion by the state into their lives (Drabsch, 2013, p. 4).
On the other hand, the list of research-accumulated reasons provided by parents for choosing to educate from home is substantial:
- Parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children;
- The health needs of the child prevent him or her from attending school on a regular basis and so the flexibility afforded by home schooling is optimal in the circumstances;
- The child has special education needs, such as autism, which leads some parents to feel the child will cope better in their home environment with a familiar, regular caregiver as educator;
- Religious reasons;
- Philosophical/ideological objections to traditional schooling — for example, some parents believe that ‘schools have a forced curriculum, that desagreeable beliefs and values are placed on all the children, that peer pressure is prevalent, that schools are too competitive and that they cannot provide what children need’;
- Objections to the socialisation process that occurs through traditional schooling as well as a belief that the use of age-structured grades for school forces children into an artificial network of peers who are all the same age. Home schooled children mix with different ages rather than being artificially restricted to their peer group and there are some thoughts that their social skills are better as a result;
- The family travels regularly and thus requires flexible schooling options;
- There is a desire for closer family relationships and a strong family unit;
- To avoid negative peer pressure, unwanted influences, school bullying and violence, substance abuse, etc.;
- In some cases it is a response to perceived inadequacies in the school system and a lack of satisfaction with the education offered by traditional schools;
- The quality of teaching in schools may vary with some parents subsequently believing they could do a better job;
- The local school is too far from home;
- Schools cannot provide children with the same level of personal interest and attention that a family can. Parents have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their children;
- The child may have had a negative schooling experience and thus needs some time away from the school environment;
- The parents are not opposed to traditional schooling per se but cannot afford to send the child to a private school;
- Schools are not the only arena in which children learn and home schooling allows better use of multiple environments conducive to a richer learning experience. It is not subject to the limited choice of subjects, texts and approaches to learning;
- It avoids the homogenisation of children;
- A belief that schools generally provide for the average student, with inadequate support for shy, clever of slow children;
- According to Rochelle Sutherland, ‘Home school children have more common sense, a better developed social conscience, are more motivated and think more laterally’;
- There is a greater opportunity for one-on-one interaction — the child can ask questions, difficulties can be quickly followed up and resolved and there are extra opportunities for extension;
- Children can learn at their own pace — they can go over areas that require extra time for understanding whilst moving ahead in areas that are more quickly understood. Children are also not locked into particular year levels. For example, a student strong in mathematics could move ahead in that subject whilst completing English work at a lower level (Drabsch, 2013, pp. 8-9).
When I was interviewing families for the research component of my dissertation, most of them did not want their responses to be traceable back to them. Some of the families were not concerned. However, those families that were concerned expressed their distrust of bureaucrats.
Once again, the issue distils to one question: “Who owns the children?” For most of history the answer to the question was: “The Triune God is the owner of the children, and parents are appointed by God to be the trustees of their children’s welfare — accountable to Him on the Day of Judgment.” The idea that the state owns the children, and only tolerates parental involvement in out-of-school activities, is a relatively modern one.
There will be no progress on this matter, in the favour of parents, until the Sovereignty of God is re-established in the marketplace:
May He have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before Him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render Him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him! (Psalm 72:8-11).
Drabsch, T. (2013). Home Education in NSW. Sydney: N.S. W. Parliamentary Research Service. e-brief 15. Downloaded 25/09/2014, from: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/HomeEducationinNSW/$File/Home%20schooling%20GG%203.pdf