This is just a mish mash of things I’ve learned about the HEU, registration and reporting over the years. Some from personal experience and some from friends’ experiences.
– Go into the process with a positive frame of mind. I know you wish you didn’t have to do all of this paperwork. I know it’s not right that we have to get permission to educate our own children. I know it’s an inconvenience. We all know these things but the fact is that the law says we have to register, so if you are traveling this path isn’t it better to see it for the postives? I find sitting down and putting my plans on paper very beneficial. I also find that having to report back to a government agency motivates me in areas where I’m dropping the ball and need a nudge. You see, there is good in everything. You just have to set aside your pity party glasses and look for the benefits.
– If your yearly plan is only one page long then you’ll most probably be asked by the HEU for more details.
– The title of your chosen textbook isn’t enough to explain how you will teach a subject. The HEU advisor may never have heard of your chosen curriculum/textbook. Why not add an explanation of how the curriculum works, what strategies it uses and what content it covers. You could also add in other learning opportunities that won’t come from a textbook – extra reading, games, online activities, excursions, tv programs, community events, hands on activities etc.
– Be confident in defending your choices. When questioned about the value of one of your textbooks, teaching strategies or philosophies be knowledgeable enough to explain why you believe it is the best choice at present. If you aren’t sure of yourself you’ll be easily talked into things that you aren’t comfortable with. Know your beliefs and stick to them.
– Be willing to compromise a little. Homeschoolers and the HEU are two totally different species. They come from one world and we come from another but we both have to work together. Stand firm in your choices but hear what your advisor says that they need to see and try to find compromises.
– Be polite and respectful when dealing with the HEU. You gain more with honey than vinegar. The moment you step up with anger and confrontation, you have lost the battle and begun a war. View them as ‘assistants’ or ‘advisors’ or just ladies trying to help you maintain your legal status to homeschool. Seeing them as the enemy isn’t helpful.
– Understand that the HEU’s background is in schools. When you go to them for support they are going to offer their view of what’s best. If you are looking for information on how to homeschool, don’t ask the HEU. Their role is to keep you within the guidelines of the law and not so much to teach you how to homeschool.
– Give them your best samples. What you show them will be their whole view of your child’s progress for the year. Your samples are important.
– Planning your samples in advance can be helpful. Consider what type of samples would hold a lot of information and plan for these types of activities to occur during the year. I would plan more than is necessary to ensure I found the 6 pieces that I needed.
– Read through the parts of the Education(General Provisions) Act relating to homeschool. Know how the HEU functions, know what your responsibilities are and the HEU’s boundaries.
– Start your paperwork early. Don’t leave it for the last fortnight. Something is bound to creep up making it a mad dash to the due date. They are no extensions at the HEU. I’ve had friends who were very unwell for several weeks prior to their due date and they were not granted an extension. So plan ahead and give yourself plenty of leeway.
– If in doubt, ring them. On the phone I have found many of the staff to be very helpful. When things are written in text it can sound more onerous than it’s intended. Bureaucratic hoops can sound more frightening than they need be. But a lady on the other end of the phone line, if you treat her with kindness and respect, will probably be lovely and somewhat helpful. But we have to do our part too. Sometimes they can’t make the obstacle go away, sometimes we just have to figure out a way to climb over it or go through it. If we ring them I”m sure they’ll be happy to stand by and offer support to us as we struggle over the bureaucratic hurdle we’ve been dealt.
– Don’t panic. If you hear of a person having a terrible time with the HEU, don’t assume it’s because the HEU are bullies and ogres and the requirements are impossible. Keep a level head. Ordinarily the traumas appear worse than they are. I’ve had people, who I’ve helped through the paperwork, throw up their hands in despair at the first request for more information from the HEU. An email to ask for more detail is not the end of the world. Just add the detail so the registration process can continue. Also remember that there are people who just aren’t doing enough for their children. The HEU’s main task is to ensure children are receiving a high quality of education. If you hear of problems with the HEU it’s conceivable that the HEU’s concerns are valid.
– If you do your best to know your responsibilities to the HEU, put effort and time into your paperwork, take your role as a homeschool parent seriously and work amiably with the HEU, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about….
But always keep an eye on horizon…just in case.