When we began our homeschooling journey, one of the most confronting experiences for me was the review process with the Education Department. I knew deep down that I was doing what was right for my daughter and our family, but in reality, presenting my reasons and preparations to an Ed Dept official seemed another matter altogether. So, having experienced several reviews and coming up for another, I thought I’d jot down a few of the things I’ve learned and share with those who may be starting out….

First of all trust yourself, you can do this. Remember why you decided to homeschool in the first place. You are able to provide a comprehensive education for your child(ren), you know them better than anyone else and if you follow your instincts, you will be able to give them all they need to thrive.

Be prepared... decide basically how you want to do things. I looked at the subject areas on the SACSA website athttp://www.sacsa.sa.edu.au/. There is a lot of information which may be overwhelming at first, but if you break it down, it basically lists age and subject areas and a general idea of what similar aged children may be learning. You don't have to memorise all the details, but I found it helpful just to familiarise myself a bit with the overall structure of things.

I tend to look at my children's interests and fit the SACSA areas around that (often after spontaneous learning's taken place). Most topics can be tackled using concrete learning, which tends to make things a bit more interesting (good homeschooling books and resources are invaluable here, and your local library, the homeschool library, garage sales, op-shops, and salvage places like That's Not Garbage, can keep costs to a minimum).

There also tends to be a lot of 'cross-curriculum learning' taking place as life is full of learning experiences, but knowing how to label different experiences into subject areas can be invaluable in preparing for a review.

For example, cooking can be classified as maths (measurement,counting), design and technology (planning, method and evaluation), science (change of state as the food is cooked, reactions between materials), LOTE (cooking foods from different cultures, origins of food), english (sharing culinary terms and language, poems, songs for younger learners), society and environment (recycling containers, not wasting food, composting scraps) and so on.

I find it helpful to get ideas for extending a topic by watching which area my children seem to grab onto after different experiences. It tends to vary according to their age and interests at the time.

I've also found that by making myself familiar with resources in the community, meeting requirements for socialising and learning via different mediums is not an issue. Homeschooling groups tend to cover a lot of hands-on learning experiences as well as being an invaluable social outlet. Utilising our local community resources, and some of those mentioned in the SA Home Based Learners Newsletter What's On, Displays and Activities, and Special Events sections of this newsletter, plus sport once a week tends to give my children enough interaction with others to keep them happy. I choose not to be out all the time with my children, while other families love getting out and about most days. Homeschooling is all about finding a balance that suits your family, and the reviewer will generally take this into account.

In South Australia exemptions are granted generally on a 12 monthly basis, but 6 and 18 month exemptions are sometimes given. Once your review is completed, you will receive a copy of your child's exemption in the post.

Just remember, the most important thing is that you and your family are happy with what you are doing, the rest can be worked through.

Author: Cynthia Marston