Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Dignity therapy: Making the last words count

Guided conversations with the terminally ill are popular with patients, families and doctors who’ve experienced them. But are they truly beneficial? Researchers are looking beneath the anecdotal appeal.

By Lola Butcher - October 08, 2021

This article was originally published in Knowable Magazine

In the mid-1990s, psychiatrist Harvey Max Chochinov and his colleagues were researching depression and anxiety in patients approaching the end of their lives when they became curious about this question: Why do some dying people wish for death and contemplate suicide while others, burdened with similar symptoms, experience serenity and a will to live right up to their last days?

Over the next decade, Chochinov’s team at the University of Manitoba in Canada developed a therapy designed to reduce depression, desire for death and suicidal thoughts at the end of life. Dignity therapy, as it is called, involves a guided conversation with a trained therapist to allow dying people to speak about the things that matter most to them. “It is a conversation that we invite people into, to allow them to say the things they would want said before they are no longer in a position to be able to say it themselves,” Chochinov says.

Dignity therapy is little known to the general public but it has captivated end-of-life researchers around the world. Studies have yet to pin down exactly what benefits it confers, but research keeps confirming one thing: Patients, families and clinicians love it.

These end-of-life conversations are important, says Deborah Carr, a sociologist at Boston University who studies well-being in the last stages of life and explored the topic in the 2019 Annual Review of Sociology. A key need of people who know they are dying is tending to relationships with people who are important to them. This includes “being able to communicate their wishes to family and ensuring that their loved ones are able to say goodbye without regret,” she says.

And the closer we get to death, the more we need to understand what our lives have amounted to, says Kenneth J. Doka, senior vice president for grief programs for Hospice Foundation of America. “As people reach the end of life, they want to look back and say, ‘My life counted. My life mattered. My life had value, had some importance,’ in whatever way they define it,” Doka says. “I think dignity therapy speaks to that need to find meaning in life and does it in a very structured and very successful way.”

A dignified ending

Chochinov’s search to understand why some people feel despair at the end of life while others do not led him to countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where euthanasia and assisted suicide have long been legal. There he learned that the most common reason people gave for seeking assisted suicide was loss of dignity.

To learn more, Chochinov and his colleagues asked 213 terminal cancer patients to rate their sense of dignity on a seven-point scale. Nearly half reported a loss of dignity to some degree, and 7.5 percent identified loss of dignity as a significant concern. Patients in this latter group were much more likely to report pain, desire for death, anxiety and depression than those who reported little or no loss of dignity.

Dignity at the end of life means different things to different people, but in interviews with 50 terminally ill patients, Chochinov and his colleagues found that one of the most common answers related to a dying person’s perception of how they were seen by others. “Dignity is about being deserving of honor, respect or esteem,” Chochinov says. “Patients who felt a lost sense of dignity oftentimes perceived that others didn’t see them as somebody who had a continued sense of worth.”

Dignity therapy is tailored to enhance this sense of worth. In a session, a therapist — typically a clinician or social worker — carefully leads the patient through a series of nine questions (see graphic) that help a person express how their life has been worthwhile. “It’s not like a recipe, that you can just read out these nine questions and then call it dignity therapy,” Chochinov says. “We train therapists so that we can help them guide people through a very organic kind of conversation.”

The session typically lasts around an hour. About half is spent gathering biographical highlights, and the other half focuses on what Chochinov calls the “more wisdom-laden” thoughts that the patient wants to share. A few days later, the patient receives an edited draft for review. “There’s an ethos of immediacy — your words matter, you matter,” he says. “They can edit it and they can sign off on it to say, ‘That is what I want as part of my legacy.’”

Dignity therapy uses this standard set of nine questions as a starting point for discussion. The questions invite the dying person to evaluate their life and offer their wisdom to family and friends.

But does it work?

Miguel Julião, a physician in Lisbon, Portugal, specializes in helping patients who have difficult symptoms, which is why he was asked one day a few years ago to see a patient suffering with unbearable pain. “The minute I got into his room, he told me ‘I would like you to help me die soon,’” Julião says. “I told him, ‘I don’t agree with euthanasia and I don’t do it, but I would like to know about you as a person and what you are most proud of in your life.’”

In the next few minutes, Julião learned about the man’s pride in raising “two good human beings” and stories of their life as a family. And he received an invitation to return for more conversations, which continued until the man died a month later.

The encounter prompted Julião, who was pursuing his doctorate at the time, to pivot his research and focus squarely on dignity therapy. He has had lots of company. Chochinov estimates that nearly 100 peer-reviewed research papers, and at least four in-depth analyses — “systematic reviews” of the accumulated science — have been published so far, and more studies are ongoing. The largest study yet, of 560 patients treated at six sites across the country, is now being conducted by Diana Wilkie, a nursing professor at the University of Florida, and colleagues.

Wilkie also helped conduct the first systematic review, published in 2015, which came up with a conundrum. When all studies were viewed together, the evidence that dignity therapy reduced desire for death was lacking. “The findings have been mixed,” she says. “In the smaller studies, you see benefit sometimes and sometimes not; in the larger studies, not.”

The most definitive study — Chochinov’s original clinical trial, completed by 326 adults in Canada, the United States and Australia who were expected to live six months or less — found that the therapy did not mitigate “outright distress such as depression, desire for death or suicidality,” although it provided other benefits, including an improved quality of life and a change in how the patients’ family regarded and appreciated them. A few years later, however, Julião conducted a much smaller trial in Portugal in which dignity therapy did reduce demoralization, desire for death, depression and anxiety.

Julião thinks that the different outcomes reflect differences in the patient groups: His study focused on people experiencing high levels of distress, while Chochinov’s did not. But Julião also notes that his study was small, with only 80 participants. “We still need more evidence,” he says. “But, on the other hand, you see a high interest among clinicians, because they see it work in daily practice.”

Positive and negative results also may depend upon how studies measure “success.” Scott Irwin, a psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai Cancer in Los Angeles, worked at a San Diego hospice that introduced dignity therapy in 2009. “It was absolutely worthwhile — no question,” Irwin says. “Not only did the patients love it, but the nurses loved it and got to know their patients better. It was sort of a transformative experience for patients and the care team.”

Researchers reviewed the “legacy documents” — the tangible product of dignity therapy — of 27 patients at a hospice in San Diego to determine what they talked about with the therapist. These are the most common themes that emerged, shown with the percentage of patients who touched on that theme.

Indeed, Wilkie’s literature review reported “overwhelming acceptability, rare for any medical intervention.” Patients seem to get something out of it, even if that “something” isn’t captured by measures like reduced desire for death. In one study of 100 terminally ill patients who received dignity therapy, 91 percent reported feeling satisfied or highly satisfied; in another, 93 percent gave high ratings of satisfaction.

In Portugal, family members of dying individuals have prompted Julião to develop new uses for the therapy. He and Chochinov first adapted the interview to be appropriate for adolescents. More recently, two individuals told Julião they regretted that their loved ones had died without receiving dignity therapy, prompting the researchers to create a posthumous therapy for surviving friends and family members.

In a study of this interview protocol for survivors, “we have wonderful, wonderful comments from people saying, ‘It’s like I’m here with him or with her,’” Julião says. Doing dignity therapy posthumously could be useful in helping families deal with bereavement, he says — an idea he’d like to test.

Barriers to use

But for all its appeal, few patients actually receive dignity therapy. Though the tool is well-known among clinicians and social workers who specialize in caring for seriously ill patients, it is not routinely available in the US, Doka says.

A primary barrier is time. The therapy session is designed to last just one hour, but in Irwin’s experience at the hospice, patients were often too tired or pain-ridden to get through the entire interview in one session. On average, a therapist met with a patient four times. And the interview then had to be edited by someone trained to create a concise narrative that is true to the patient’s perspective and sensitive in dealing with any comments that might be painful for loved ones to read.

Julião says he transcribes each patient’s interview himself and also edits it into the legacy document. The entire process typically takes about eight days; he suspects this is why he is one of only two people who provide dignity therapy in Portugal. He says he has enthusiastic responses from clinicians and social workers attending the lectures and workshops he has conducted since 2011. “But they don’t do it clinically because it’s hard for clinicians to dedicate so much time to this.”

Dignity therapy is most widely available in Winnipeg, its birthplace, where all clinicians at Cancer Care Manitoba, the organization that provides cancer services in the province, have been trained in the protocol. If a patient expresses interest, or a clinician thinks a patient might be interested, a referral is made to one of the therapists, among them Chochinov.

“And then I see them, either in their hospital bed or more typically at their home,” he says.

A few months ago, he spent about an hour with a dying woman. She told him about her proudest accomplishments and shared some guidance for her loved ones. 

A few days after he delivered a transcript of the conversation, the woman thanked him by email for their discussion and for the document that “will give my family something to treasure.”

“Dignity therapy is part of the bridge from here to there, from living my life fully to what remains at the end,” she wrote. “Thank you for helping me to tell this story.”

What are microschools? 5 questions answered

Since COVID-19, some parents in search of educational alternatives for their children have turned to microschools. Here, Barnett Berry, a research professor in education at the University of South Carolina, explains what makes microschools distinct from other schools.

Photo by  Monstera from Pexels

By Barnett Berry - September 16, 2021

This article was originally published in  The Conversation

1. What are microschools?

As their name suggests, microschools, which serve K-12 students, are very small schools that typically serve 10 to 15 students, but sometimes as many as 150. They can have very different purposes but tend to share common characteristics, such as more personalized and project-based learning. They also tend to have closer adult-child relationships in which teachers serve as facilitators of student-led learning, not just deliverers of content.

Michael Horn, a fellow and co-founder at Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, aptly noted: “Think one-room schoolhouse meets blended learning and home schooling meets private schooling.”

Microschools can be found inside public schools, such as in North Phillips School of Innovation in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. But they can also be found in the private sector as well, such as the MYSA Micro School in Washington. They can operate almost anywhere – from living rooms and storefronts to churches, libraries and offices.

It is difficult to know just how many microschools there are throughout the U.S. State rules and regulations differ considerably, and there is no one national accreditation agency for microschools.

Horn reported that QuantumCamp, founded in 2009, was a microschool established “out of a dare that one couldn’t teach quantum physics in a simple way.” Acton Academy operates more than 180 microschools in the United States and abroad.

Microschools are often associated with ed-tech and efforts to privatize public education. For example, SchoolHouse – a New York-based ed tech startup – reportedly raised $8.1 million as of 2021 to take its model nationwide.

It is difficult to know just how many microschools there are throughout the U.S. State rules and regulations differ considerably, and there is no one national accreditation agency for microschools.

2. How are they funded?

The cost of attending a privately operated microschool varies widely. It can range from $4,000 to $25,000 per academic year.

These private microschools tend to serve families who can afford them – a 2019 survey found that the majority of microschools serve few low-income students.

Some models are funded through school voucher programs. In Florida, about 1 in 3 students at the BB International School draw on the state’s private choice programs to finance their microschool education.

Microschools can have much lower overhead than public schools, which can in turn reduce the typical per-pupil expenditure. But they also cannot provide the depth of extracurricular opportunities, such as sports, drama, band and more that parents seek in a more holistic education experience for their children.

3. Are they more effective than regular schools?

There is very little, if any, substantive evidence on the effectiveness of microschools compared to regular public schools. However, most research shows little difference in student outcomes between charter, private and public schools. This suggests there might be wide variation in the quality of microschools as well.

Students and parents wanted more personalized learning that connected to their life in the community.

4. Has the pandemic played a role in their popularity?

In the wake of the pandemic, some parents – frustrated with their child’s schools’ response to online learning – have turned microschools and learning pods. For example, The New York Times reported in 2020 that the Pandemic Pods Facebook page had more than 41,000 members, suggesting interest in the concept, although the number had shrunk to 38,000 as of September 2021. Yet it is worth noting that, historically, private schools have served only about 10% of the nation’s students.

The pandemic appears to have played a role in the uptick of interest in microschools, but a 2020 poll showed that 2 in 3 parents have given their local public school an A or B grade in response to the pandemic.

5. Do microschools and public schools work together?

Microschools do work inside the public school system and can be viewed as an extension of the small schools movement.

In 2017, the North Phillips School of Innovation, mentioned earlier in this article, was established to address poor academic performance, high student absenteeism and frequent discipline problems. Students and parents wanted more personalized learning that connected to their life in the community. During the pandemic, the district used their experience with microschooling to create learning pods and has been able to more effectively personalize learning for students and their families.

In addition, during pandemic-induced school closures, the New Hampshire Department of Education developed their version of learning pods to create small multi-age groupings of students – anywhere from five to 10 students – to help up to 500 students who had been struggling with academic and social and emotional setbacks.

Finally, the microschool concept aligns with Teacher Powered Schools — intentionally small schools inside of the public education system – where teachers have more autonomy to lead as well as teach.

Perhaps the pandemic can spur new public-private partnerships that lead to more equitable and personalized learning in which microschools play an important role.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
Read the original article.
The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact and research based journalism.
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Parenting Through the Pandemic

2020 was a difficult year for many parents as a result of COVID-19 limitations – but did being at home with children influence their levels of life satisfaction?

This article was first published on  Pursuit
Read the  original article.

Being a parent is never an easy gig, but during the pandemic lockdowns, parenting was made even more difficult.

Many parents were cut off from family and friends, unable to make or keep plans, had no one to share the load while trying to work-from-home, keeping toddlers entertained and generally learning to cope.

It made 2020 a challenging year for parents of children of all ages, but particularly first-time parents and those with young school-age children.

So, how did being a parent during lockdown affect their levels of life satisfaction?

My research, published in the Life Satisfaction during the 2020 Pandemic in Australia report, examines levels of satisfaction during the unprecedented COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.

The data was collected from one group of participants of the Life Patterns Program aged in their early 30s. Almost 500 participants completed the annual survey between April and May, during the national lockdown, and 40 participants were interviewed between October and November, when people in Melbourne were hoping to emerge from the harsher second lockdown.

Overall in 2020, parents were just as satisfied as non-parents.

This contrasts with results from 2019 when parents reported lower levels of life satisfaction than non-parents. So, it would seem that parents and non-parents were similarly affected during the initial stages of the pandemic.

Perhaps the extra work of caring for children while working from home was offset by the time saved by not commuting to work or dropping off and picking up children.

However, parents with toddlers and pre-schoolers were largely left to fend for themselves, juggling their work commitments while also trying to entertain and care for their children.

Lockdowns and parenting

During much of last year, the pandemic restrictions limited the ability of most parents to spend time with their extended families and friends. It also constrained their ability to develop social networks and to engage with other parents and health professionals.

Schools, childcare centres and creches were closed and children had to stay at home with their parents, many of whom were also trying to work-from-home.

My research shows that levels of life satisfaction varied according to age of the youngest child. Parents with a baby aged less than one year old reported the highest levels of life satisfaction, while those with a youngest child aged four years old reported the lowest levels of life satisfaction.

Interestingly, parents with a youngest child aged five years or older reported higher levels of life satisfaction than their peers with a youngest child aged four years. This may be because school-aged children were able, in most cases, to stay connected with their classmates and teachers through virtual classrooms.

However, parents with toddlers and pre-schoolers were largely left to fend for themselves, juggling their work commitments while also trying to entertain and care for their children.

“I set up activities in the backyard, but it was always raining so we were cooped up inside trying to think of activities for inside…The kids didn’t respond very well. Their behaviour wasn’t very good because they realised that they couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t break up the day” – mother with a four-year old boy and two-year old twins living in regional Victoria.

On a more positive note, some parents commented on being able to spend more time with their children and partners due to working-from-home, or not working at all.

New parents in a pandemic

Welcoming a first child is typically a period of immense joy and celebration for the parents, grandparents and other relatives. The excitement of sharing the joy with as many people as possible often sustains parents through the many months of sleepless nights and the stress associated with parenting.

But not always.

“No siblings were allowed and they considered his twin brother as a sibling so he wasn’t allowed to come into special care with us, so we’d have to leave him down on the ward with the midwives so that we could go and visit his brother in the special care nursery” – First-time mother of twin boys born in March 2020, with one in intensive care.

As the pandemic unfolded, new parents experienced isolation from family and friends, had restricted access to social supports such as parenting groups and were often trying to do their paid job at home during the chaotic first few months of parenthood.

During the interviews, parents talked about how the pandemic had changed their priorities:

“We are moving back to our family… being in lockdown for so long, being away from people… we just wanted to be closer to them from now on” – father with an 18-month-old boy living in regional Tasmania.

“I think one thing I know I’m going to do is not to say no to things…I haven’t seen anyone in four months now” – mother of baby girl born in August 2020 living in Melbourne.

“At the beginning with him, it was just us and the midwife, the only people who ever had even touched him, no physical contact with anyone else” – mother of baby boy born April 2020 living in Adelaide.

On a more positive note, some parents commented on being able to spend more time with their children and partners due to working-from-home, or not working at all.

“The upside is that I get to see the kids a lot more, that’s fantastic. I also get to see my wife a lot more, also fantastic” – father with a four-year old and two-year old living in Melbourne.

Now that Victoria is again in lockdown, little attention has been paid to how parents will cope. What services are now in place to support new parents? How flexible will employers be? How will those who survived on JobKeeper in 2020 fare without it in 2021?

And how will they rate their life satisfaction this time around?

This article is republished from Pursuit under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0 AU) license/Title and subtitle have been reworded.
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5 Tips From a Play Therapist to Help Kids Express Themselves and Unwind

Fantasy play, painting, playing made-up games and building with blocks are a few examples of free play.

Professor of Play Therapy, University of South Carolina - August 12, 2021

This article was originally published in The Conversation

As many children go back to school after 18 months of global pandemic, social isolation and on-and-off remote learning, they too are feeling the additional stress and uncertainty of these times.

Children need play to decompress and communicate in ways that are meaningful to them. Play is how they express themselves, process their day and solve problems. It’s essential for their social, emotional, creative and cognitive well-being. Play helps teach them self-regulation, boundary setting and decision-making.

As a licensed clinical mental health counselor and registered play therapist and supervisor, I spend a lot of my time helping people understand children. I show adults how to see the world through kids’ eyes and how to engage them on their level.

After so much isolation and increased demands on parents and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe now is an important time for parents and caregivers to increase their understanding of, communication with and connection to their children – through play.

Structured play helps children learn to manage their emotions, take turns, follow rules and deal with feelings of frustration as well as feelings of success.

Structured vs. Unstructured Play

There are two main types of play that provide cognitive and emotional benefits for kids – structured play and unstructured play, or free play.

Structured play – such as board games, puzzles and individual or team sports – involves instructions and follows a set of rules. An objective or purpose of the play is established. Structured play helps children learn to manage their emotions, take turns, follow rules and deal with feelings of frustration as well as feelings of success.

Unstructured play, also called free play, encourages children to do what interests them without adult direction. It doesn’t require an outcome or product. Unstructured play allows the child’s brain to recover from a highly structured school day and provides a sense of freedom. It fosters problem-solving, resilience and creativity, and gives kids time and space to make sense of their experiences. Examples of unstructured or free play include fantasy play, painting, playing made-up games with others and building with blocks.

This time is special because the parent is engaging with the child in a very different way than other interactions throughout the day.

Free Play Tips

Although free play is child-led, parents can engage with their child during this time. Here are five tips based on Sue Bratton and Garly Landreth’s child-parent relationship therapy, which uses play to build stronger and healthier parent-child attachment.

1. Get on their level

Create a space on the floor with some of their toys or join them in their play area. Sit on the ground with them. Let them know that this is their “special play time.” This time is special because the parent is engaging with the child in a very different way than other interactions throughout the day.

2. Allow the child to lead

Allow the child to direct the play. If asked what to play, try responding, “You get to decide what we play today.”

3. Show interest

Parents can do this by providing feedback. State what you see your child is doing without any notion of acceptance or approval: “You’re playing with the doll” or “You’re coloring that red.” Repeat back what your child says: “Cars go fast” or “Yellow is your sister’s favorite color.” Reflect the feelings that your child is expressing: “You feel happy when your car wins” or “You’re mad when you lose the race.” This type of responding illustrates the parent’s engagement without taking over the play.

4. Set limits and boundaries

Play that is child-led does not mean the child can break toys or hurt themselves or others. Sometimes the parent may need to step in and set a limit if the child’s behavior becomes destructive or harmful. Be sure to validate the feeling the child is exhibiting and provide another option for that behavior. For example: “You are mad right now, but people aren’t for hitting. You can hit the stuffed animal instead.”

5. Be consistent

Children thrive on stability and consistency. Try to implement the “special play time” each week for about 30 minutes and use a timer to ensure the amount of play time is consistent and your child is prepared for the ending. This special play time should take place regardless of behavior and should not be used as a punishment or reward.

This article was originally published by  The Conversation

The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact- and research-based journalism.The Conversation

The Conversation

Thinking of Switching to Homeschooling Permanently After Lockdown? Here Are 5 Things to Consider


This article was originally published by  The Conversation

Homeschooling registrations for children in Victoria in 2020 grew by almost four times the rate of the previous year, recent reports show.

Some families who had children learning from home during lockdown discovered they enjoyed spending more time together and some children found they learnt better at home. Parents may have recognised academic or social challenges for their child at school and decided to continue with homeschooling.

But even before COVID-19, homeschooling was on the rise. If you’re considering homeschooling because your child seems to do better at home, but are unsure if it’s the right thing to do, here are five things to take into account.

1. Homeschooling is different to remote learning

Homeschooling is different from remote learning. Remote learning is the experience of teachers delivering the school curriculum to children at home, as was done during the recent school closures. This is more like distance education, which some families do if they live remotely, for instance.

In homeschooling, parents have elected to meet their child’s educational needs themselves, rather than using government or other school options.

Homeschooling is legal in all states and territories in Australia but there are differing registration and monitoring requirements.

2. It takes a lot of time and effort

Some parents put together a school structure at home with lesson plans and routine break times. They may employ a tutor to help with their child’s education or do this themselves.

Others choose to use an unstructured or “unschooling” learning method. This is an informal way of learning that advocates student-chosen activities rather than teacher-directed lessons.

Even if parents decide to teach children in an informal way, they will need to put in significant time and effort.

The process of developing a homeschooling routine takes time, effort and patience. Parents may be required to submit a plan to their state education department, which, in most cases, should show an alignment between their child’s learning and the national curriculum.

Parents may have to develop or implement a full school curriculum at home without the resources available in schools.

Even if parents decide to teach children in an informal way, they will need to put in significant time and effort. For example, a parent may use a trip to the shops to cover geography (the child navigating), mathematics (the child calculating the cost of items), or economics (supply and demand factors), but this may add hours to a routine shop.

So, parents will need to consider their ability and desire to take on this leading role in their child’s education. For some parents it can also take an emotional toll and feel isolating if there isn’t a plan or enough support.

3. Consider social and other difficulties at school

Some families homeschool on religious or ideological grounds; others are motivated by practical limitations to school access — such as if the school is too far from home or their child has a disability.

Many individual children can face difficulties going to school, such as the separation of leaving their carer or parent. Other children may be bullied at school.

Some young people who have died by suicide were found to have done so after persistent bullying.

There is very little research into the effects on children who are experiencing difficulties at traditional schools and change to homeschooling.

But parents should know schools have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for children. They must address bullying behaviour and provide support for both the victim and the perpetrator. When there are difficult interactions parents, teachers, the school and children (where appropriate) should collaborate to improve the situation.

Children often need support from teachers and parents to navigate exposure to bullying. But if the behaviour is allowed to continue with options exhausted, students will be more likely to experience negative psychological health from ongoing bullying.

Data from 2016 show around 70% of children aged 12–13 experienced at least one bullying-like behaviour within a year. All forms of bullying have the potential to create long-term and disastrous psychological as well as physical effects. Some young people who have died by suicide were found to have done so after persistent bullying.

Evidence suggests bullying constitutes a traumatic experience for students who are bullied. How teachers and schools respond to bullying and the frequency of bullying can also result in mental distress for students.

Not all schools can and do adequately manage bullying and other unsafe situations children may be in. In these instances, parents may decide to remove their child from school and homeschool their child.

Parents can consider whether their child is showing ongoing signs of psychological distress such as changes in behaviour, withdrawal from others, irritability or problems concentrating.

Specialist support from a psychologist may help parents and students to understand the benefits and limitations of changing schools and homeschooling. If there are underlying social or separation anxieties involved, these issues should be addressed as they are likely to linger at home too.

4. Children can thrive academically

Children’s academic outcomes need to be considered in the context of the parents’ motivation for choosing homeschooling. For example, if a parent’s primary concern is religious education their focus may not be on their child gaining the highest year 12 results possible.

Research shows academic results of children who are home educated are mixed. This is partly because there are diverse parental motivations which may or may not prioritise academic pursuits.

In Australia, some studies have focused on NAPLAN results. These suggest home-educated students score higher than state averages across every measure. The effect continues even if the child returns to school.

Children who are homeschooled may be doing well because they receive one-on-one attention. Or it could be because the child’s learning is personalised and the child has agency over their learning.

5. Children can be socialised in both environments

Socialisation is again influenced by parental motivations and the education methods employed.

Homeschooled young people can have a diverse range of social interactions with people of different ages, including adults.

An Australian survey of homeschooling families showed nearly 50% of children participated in at least one club activity. This included 24 different sports — from AFL to aerial silks and yoga — and clubs including lego and chess. Around 40% attended at least one regular learning group. Classes included new languages, gardening, Shakespeare and archaeology.

The majority of research participants regularly had “play dates” with homeschooling and/or non-homeschooling families. Children actively participated in their community through the arts, including community theatre, bands, choirs, dance and visual arts classes.

Parents should consider the reasons behind their choice to homeschool and seek advice to ensure the best outcomes for their child socially, emotionally and academically.

This article was originally published by
  The Conversation
The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact- and research-based journalism.The Conversation

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