Distance Education is a valid legal educational option available to all. However, Distance Education is definitely not the best option for everyone. For a start, Distance Education involves a big commitment from parents and challenges what have been accepted social norms. Due to the personal cost involved for some, it can be helpful to consider the educational advantages that can take place within the home learning environment.
Freedom to study the Bible, pray, and teach moral and spiritual truth…
As a Parent, you are able to start the day and include within the day prayer and praise. You may also give emphasis to discussion around the Biblical principles that are included within curriculum or add in points of interest that arise from study. When learning about issues that are secular in nature it is good to be able to address things within a Biblical framework. Current affairs, news and entertainment items often come from a secular viewpoints that are self-serving, vain or promoting disrespect or rebellious. While it is good for students to be aware of what is happening around them in the world, it is important for students to understand things from a Biblical and/or positive family based perspective.
At Faith CSDE we offer a rich diversity of study topics within a Christian Word View, and when a unit or topic may not be right for a student's parents, we will be able to choose an alternative book study or unit, or has a choice on the emphasis given to one aspect over another. Within many schools today, controversial topics such as witchcraft, sex before marriage, violence or related themes are introduced without any consultation with parents. As a DE parent, you will be able to see what your children are learning, and will have the ability to exercise discretion in the themes your children are introduced to within learning material.
In Science, evolution in schools is often presented unquestioningly as a scientifically proven fact. With the definition of True Science being observable, repeatable and testable, Christians are able to examine evolution as it really is, a theory. There is scope to discuss the theory's major flaws, and present alternative views of Intelligent Design and the many scientific findings that support alternative theories. A classic example of this is where many Schools teach that Fossil Fuels are from plant and animal matter, when Scientists for the last 8 years have known that, so called fossil fuels are actually the product of compressed Hydrocarbons deep within the Earth’s crust. I had this discussion with an award winning State Education Secondary Science Head just two years ago. I told him to check it out within the American Journal of Science.
As a parent, you might also consider how the personal views of a teacher that you entrust your child to, impact on classroom practices, discussions and influence topics of study. A teacher’s views may be at odds with your own. Many teachers would advocate the Bible as a myth, relativity (there is no wrong or right), situation ethics, abortion, the occult, etc., Do teacher’s views permeate classroom discussions or forming attitudes. Are a teacher’s influences amplified for children from families that teach their children to listen and respect the Teacher – as they should?
Most schools endeavour to be impartial but they seldom permit prayer or introduce the presentation of Biblical truth. If a School has Religious Education then it is usually limited to 30 minutes a week and there are clear guidelines and constraints on what the volunteers are allowed to teach.
In Distance Education, parents are free to add in extra lessons that give respect for the Bible and for God, with strong values. Within Faith Christian School DE, Biblical teachings can be freely discussed and integrated within any subject where relevant.
Positive Teacher Influence
Families who are enrolled with Faith School of Distance Education (as in many Christian schools that still employ teachers with a strong faith in God) can be confident that teachers have a strong faith in God and the Bible, be good role models and view their job as a ministry.
A Teacher's worldview may influence the way in which students are viewed and subsequently treated. If a teacher believes that God created each child special and has a good plan for their lives, this can only be positive. Sometimes families who do not consider themselves to be “Christian” seek out and desire teachers who do believe this Christian caring view point of their child, as opposed to a belief in evolution and “survival of the fittest”. Within challenging pressured classroom environments, a “survival of the fittest” belief leading the class may not ensure positive outcomes for each child.
Educational programs can be truly learner centred in Distance Education. This is because parents working with our teachers will be able and willing to take on new ideas, and use a range of teaching strategies – including taking extra time on a key concept before moving on. They are free from concerns about the extra work involved when changing set practice and having to cater in place and time for a large mass of students. Instead, with a focus on what’s best for the individual student, parents can greatly assist students to reach their full potential through lessons and more one-to-one attention.
DE situations give more freedom to explore a wider variety of options and strategies for students. This is in contrast to Day Schools' 'best practice' or 'ideal lessons' which is often determined by workloads and large class sizes, limitations of resources or behaviour management.
Effective Use of Time
Unfortunately within Day School arrangements, by their very nature, students have a lot of down time; waiting for; buses, travelling to and from school, moving from class to class, waiting in lines or for teachers to arrive, listening to negative interactions between teachers and behavioural problem students, waiting for help from a busy teacher or waiting for other students who may be too distracted to finish work - so that their group or class can move on to the next step or concept.
Sadly, within the high pressure school environment, a high proportion of teacher interactions within classrooms are centred around negative behaviour management communications rather than giving support to learning through instruction or encouragement and praise.
It is not surprising that many students learn more in 3-5 hours within the home, without the down time and distractions, than students who are away from home for 7 hours or more per day - only then to arrive home to assignments or set home work. It is perplexing when considering that most adults would not have to do the long hours that secondary students are expected to do? Could student time be used more productively?
Individualised teaching and personal attention
Instead of one teacher dealing with a class of 20-32 students, Distance Education parents are working directly with each child with the support of an experienced teacher just a phone or Skype call away. Within many classrooms, each student has little access to the teacher's time. Within Distance Education, students have more quality support from an adult. Problems can readily be perceived and dealt with. If the child has a question or needs attention, help is more easily available.
Because the incidence of adult input and support is much higher within the Distance Education situation, it is easier to meet individual needs. The pace can also be more easily adapted to the needs of the student. A learner having difficulty can be supported at their own pace. A student finding a section or topic easy can also be advanced or extended.
More flexible use of time
We believe our Distance Education families benefit from an individualised long-term program for each student that enables goals to be set and a daily planned schedule to support health routines. However, parents can still feel free to fit in special learning opportunities that fixed classroom hours may not allow. Students can take special field trips, attend local, national or even international learning events or gain specialist tutoring support at of peek rates. Families can also plan vacations during the off season, or in hot climates start their school day very early in the morning while things are cool.
Quality Learning Outcomes
Reports have abundantly documented the high incidence of students who are passing through our State Schooling system and leaving without the basic academic skills they require. In Faith CSDE, parents work directly with their children and this insures they do not fall through the cracks. Parents are supported by an experienced teacher and see immediately if the child is not learning well, so they can take action to resolve the problem early before distrust or anxiety around the topic of learning is formed.
Better discipline and behavioural standards
Unfortunately, School standards of behaviour and discipline seem to have diminished over the years. As a result some Schools are not always emotionally or physically safe environments. Peer pressure seems to be the strongest influence in many students’ lives, and even students from good homes may adopt poor behavioural standards and rude behaviours. Students can be mistreated by other students who have little regard for others.
Within a loving home environment parents are free to manage the behaviour of their children, setting high standards and exercising control over the influences of negative peer pressure. It is interesting to see how students who have solid foundations laid while they are young and impressionable are better able to withstand peer pressure later in life, demonstrating independence and confidence.
Some have argued that students need to be in the “real world” and that school bullying and emotional pressures are part of life. This is a strange contrast to discussions on a young adult documentary on school bullying that showed many adults carrying hurtful memories of school bullying. With years of experience within both education and industry, I would suggest that if employees had to suffer the negatives of some of the school bullying that is all too common, they would go off on stress leave and even sue their employer for failure to provide an emotionally safe working environment.
Very few working environments subject people to the treat of physical bullying or emotional abuse. In most workplaces perpetrators of the negative behaviours we see in schools would be asked to leave immediately or even face criminal charges. So is, or should bullying and emotional abuse be acceptable for our children?
While we want our children to learn resilience, I believe this level of resilience, that many adults do not have, should not be expected at age 5 or even 15. We want our students to be confident and outgoing and we see these traits emerge when children are able to grow in security and take on challenges physical and emotional without feeling alone, threatened, or made to feel useless or ugly...
Better self concept
Students at Day Schools can face rejection and mockery from other kids for:
· struggling to grasp skills,
· being a gifted learner,
· being too tall or short,
· having different religious views,
· or otherwise being an individual.
This encourages a celebration of individual differences and an acceptance of others. Above all, the faith your children have in God will have the chance to develop as they learn who they are, and not what the crowd wants them to be.
Better control of peer influences
One of the biggest problems in schools is the bad influence some students have on others. Sadly, many homes do not encourage healthy social behaviour and leave it up to schools to address this issue. Distance Education families usually want to play a greater role in their children’s lives and this often correlates strong family values. Home Education students associate with the children that their family chooses for them to associate with while involved in various electives and this weakens the harmful influence of "bad crowds."
Strong Family Relationship
When children are at school 6-7 hours a day (not counting extra-curricular activities and travel time), then they are onto homework and clubs and parents are busy running taxi service and work, family ties may be weakened, especially if family values are contradicted by other student influences. Spending time together, as a family, is special, and naturally strengthens family bonds. Often families never spend enough time together to have to sort things out and build relationships.Our families study, work, play, and pray together. Children learn to love and appreciate parents, brothers, and sisters. They enjoy and learn to relate to children of various ages and adults - not just their own age group. Families who join our school often share positive reports regarding the change in relationships and attitudes within just a few weeks or a term.
Through extra-curricular activities, youth groups, clubs and sports our students still enjoy developing relationship skills within constructive situations.
Parents often know and understand their children
Parents have lived with each of their children since birth, and therefore know their personalities, individual strengths and weaknesses well. A classroom teacher may take months to get to know each student well and sometimes a quiet student is never even noticed.
Better Preparation for Life
Studies have found that Christian home-based learning environments produce students with equal learning outcomes, generally higher behavioural standards and healthier self-concept in comparison to many day school students.In 2003 Education Queensland completed a large review of Home Schooling and families with Independent Distance Education schools. Their findings, similar to other studies have been very favourable towards home-based learning. As the media has publicised these findings, it is interesting to see public opinion changing and dispelling the myths and misconceptions. Children who are educated at home do not miss out on learning social behaviours. They do, however, often miss out on developing many of the anti-social behaviours that are generated within classrooms of “mono-age” cultures. These classrooms often contain students who are the product of very negative influences of dysfunctional home lives, violent computer games and inappropriate movies and sadly many of the students who are on the “wrong track” have a stronger influence within the class than other students and sometimes they even have greater power that the teacher to control what happens within any given situation.
For many of our parents, their most desired outcome for their children is to develop a "real life" faith in God, while gaining the academic skills and qualifications they require to ensure future opportunities. If this is your goal, you need to ask, “are my children most likely to develop a strong faith if they are placed within an environment consisting almost entirely of people who advocate principles contrary to our own family beliefs?
Children at an impressionable age need the opportunity to form strong foundations upon which they can build their future lives and fulfill their God given destiny.