Homeschooling a growing community in Wagga

"HOMEROOM": Laurelle Lewis homeschools her children, Christophers Forbes (left) and Noah Forbes, who are performing much better in the home environment than the school yard. Photo: Kieren L. Tilly.

"HOMEROOM": Laurelle Lewis homeschools her children, Christophers Forbes (left) and Noah Forbes, who are performing much better in the home environment than the school yard. Photo: Kieren L. Tilly.

Chris and Noah Forbes start their school day at 9am like any other young Wagga student, but that is where the similarities end. While their peers sit at desks in classrooms, the homeschooled Forbes boys are taught in the comfort of their own lounge room.

The boys are part of a growing community in Wagga that are turning their homes into classrooms, despite there being more than 20 primary schools and eight secondary schools in the city.

With 10-year-old Christopher diagnosed with ADHD and high functioning autism and Noah with aspergers, the option to pull her children out of school was almost a relief for their mother, Laurelle Lewis.

“I didn't feel like I was getting the support I needed from the boy’s schools and I just got fed up and thought I'd take it into my own hands ,” she said. "Noah would come home after school and have a meltdown and Christopher was always stressed and began to hate learning.”

After three months of homeschooling, Ms Lewis said she had noticed a huge improvement, with her boys now excited to start their classes each morning. 

Homeschooling is gaining support across the country, with 3327 NSW children registered with the Board of Studies in 2014. The Board also found homeschooled students received higher results in the NAPLAN compared to peers who went to school.

Each “school” day for the Forbes children begins at 9am and sees the boys undertake a range of activities, including book work, excursions, cooking or watching documentaries.

"Schools have a 'one size fits all mentality', but homeschooling allows you to teach in a way that suits your child,” Ms Lewis said. "I like to do a mixture of schoolwork and life experiences, because that creates a much richer educational experience then just sitting in front of a textbook.”

One of the stigmas Ms Lewis has had to contend with was the notion homeschooled children miss out on a “proper” education and lack sufficient social skills.

“People made jokes about it and I was always wondering if I was doing the right thing by going against the norm,” she said. “But after three months I've seen such good results, so I know I'm doing the right thing."

Would you homeschool your children?

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