Education for tamariki with FASD has many obstacles which can often cause problems in the mainstream school environment.
Before beginning their educational journey, children with FASD may already be struggling with processing information, interpreting body language of others and following instructions. Many other skills are not developing in the same way as their peers, so fitting in at school can be a challenge and school refusal or challenging behaviour may be the result.
Home-schooling, or home education as it's most often now referred to as, can be a viable option for some families. While it does require commitment and has challenges, for those caring for a tamariki with FASD who is struggling in a mainstream school environment, it may be an opportunity to provide learning opportunities for your child in a quiet, calm, home environment, with a learning plan tailored to their specific needs. Some families find home education significantly reduces the anxiety and distress that can accompany school attendance and can lead to better outcomes.
There's an excellent page to consult about all aspects of home education here.
Benefits of home schooling
- close, warm family relationships
- fewer teenage problems
- flexibility which means a more spontaneous and exciting education for your child
- more opportunities to extend their learning and have them participate in the world around them.
Children learn best when they are interested in a subject and the flexibility of home education allows this to happen regularly.
One of the biggest advantages to home schooling is the flexibility. You can tailor learning programs to suit you, your child and your lifestyle. This also means everyone ends up doing things a little differently.
Drawbacks to home education
- reduced income as one parent is at home educating rather than earning an income
- giving up at least part of your house to children’s projects
- the need to make a greater effort to involve your children in activities with their peers outside of the home for socialisation reasons
- a lack of exposure to an assortment of ideas and opinions that the student is more likely to receive if he or she is schooled face-to-face in a school environment and
- the fact that you are ultimately responsible for the education and learning of your child/children. This may be daunting for some parents who choose to home school - but there are plenty of resources to help!
- less respite for FASD whānau – the hours when your tamariki are at school can definitely be a blessing!
Do I need permission to homeschool?
Yes, you do. In New Zealand children between 6 – 16 years of age must attend a registered school, or have an exemption from school attendance. This exemption is granted by your local office of the Ministry of Education.
You’ll need to convince the Ministry officer that you are able to educate your child 'as regularly and as well' as a registered school. However you are not obliged to follow the national curriculum or create a mini-school at home.
The Ministry of Education, in considering your application, will want to know:
- that you’ve considered your child’s needs and abilities; and
- that you’ve done some research, set goals and have a reasonable idea of what you are doing.
Contact your local Ministry of Education office for an exemption application form.
The Ministry of Education provides a small amount of assistance in the form of an annual ‘supervisory allowance'. This consists of $743 for the first child, $632 for the second, $521 for the third, and $372 for each one after that.
This is paid retrospectively, in two instalments each year, June and December.
There are a number of Homeschooling websites to consult in New Zealand – click here for a good place to start.
Many thanks to Kiwifamilies for some of the information on this page.