MORE and more parents in the Perth Hills and eastern suburbs are choosing to home school their children, according to data from the Department of Education.
In 2017 there was a total of 3464 children being home educated in Western Australia, compared with 4562 last year and while their reasons for doing so are varied, the general consensus is that it offers families a great way of life, flexibility and in some cases, a better education.
“I really love it,” mum-of-five Rhiannon Hurst from Mount Helena said.
“At first I was really scared about doing it and taking that leap but with a good team behind me, we’ve made it work and now we’ll never go back to regular school.”
Rhiannon’s husband Andrew Hurst is the Pastor at the Bible Baptist Church in Mount Helena where three of their five children attended the associated school.
When it shut down last year, the family were agonising over where to continue their children’s education.
As Christians their options were limited so they decided to give home schooling a try.
But with five children ranging in ages 18 months to 14 years, the possibility was daunting for stay-at-home mum Rhiannon.
“When we were starting there was heavy pressure to try and fit everything in from the curriculum and I just didn’t think I could do it,” she said.
“I’m not a teacher and I went to school in the United States so I had no understanding of the curriculum here whatsoever.”
Lack of confidence and understanding around what is involved is a common reason why many families are put off home schooling their children, even when they want to, says home school tutor Jessie Connor who has coordinated an information extravaganza being held in Mount Helena this week.
“The Extravaganza came about because of an awareness of the growing number of home school families both in the hills and in Western Australia,” she said.
“But it is felt by families that there is not much support and direction.”
Although this is the first home school extravaganza, more are planned, giving families access to specialist areas of education they might struggle to find.
For the Hurst family, despite the initial reluctance to dive into home schooling, they say it’s been the best decision they could have made.
“I’ve drawn up a plan where the children work Monday to Thursday and with the help of my mother-in-law, we make sure they will meet their curriculum targets for the year,” Rhiannon said.
“So we get Friday’s off, which is the day we go out and do things together as a family.
“It’s brought us closer together, given our lives more structure and we’ve all thrived because of it.”
By Rebecca Peppiatt