Home Schooling in New Zealand

Home Schooling in New Zealand

Home schooling is basically just that, educating children in their home rather than in a school environment. Home schooling in New Zealand is also referred to as Home Education.

Why do people choose to Homeschool?

People who educate their children at home tend to fall into two categories;

Those who actively choose home schooling as their preferred method of education for their children.

Some parents actively choose home schooling, as they believe it gives their children a better / different style of education. Other parents may have been involved in their children’s preschool education and find they have the confidence to carry on with educating their children themselves.  Some people who choose to homeschool may do so because they have a range of alternative values that they believe would be better supported through home education.

Those who find school doesn’t suit their child and want an alternative. These parents may have children:

  • with health issues or special needs
  • who have been bullied or very unhappy at school
  • with different learning styles
  • who have been expelled or suspended from school
  • with special talents or abilities that need extending
  • who need to put extra time into their chosen field such as sport, music, academic pursuits.

What are the benefits / drawbacks to home schooling?

Benefits of home schooling include:

  • 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.

Some of the drawbacks to home schooling may be:

  • 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 (read more about this aspect of home schooling under the heading “What about socialisation if I home school?”)
  • 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 task may be daunting for some parents who choose to home school.

To read further discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of home schooling visit  www.wikianswers.com.

One of the costs you will have to consider when you make the decision to homeschool is the loss of income a parent will have to endure. The commitment to homeschool means one of you will need to be at home to educate and supervise your child/children. It doesn’t have to be the case that this is all you do. Many parents have managed to work or study part-time and continue to homeschool.What will home schooling cost me?

This article gives some more useful advice on things to consider when deciding to homeschool.


Homeschooling in New Zealand
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.

Do I need permission to homeschool my child/children?

Yes. 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. This is why the term “home education” is preferred to “home schooling”.

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.

The Ministry of Education recognises this and, 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.

How do I get started and where do I find resources?

There are many ways you can go about homeschooling which range from purchasing a curriculum to self-directed learning. Pick a method that suits your child’s learning style and your lifestyle.

Resources to help you can be found:

  • on the internet. Resources online are unlimited and often cost nothing
  • through small businesses run by home educators. They import educational resources and will be happy to recommend materials. Click here for links to resource suppliers on the internet
  • at educational bookstores that will be happy to help you with requests, or try online bookstores

The Ministry of Education will also make a number of resources available to you, including:

Are there any government checks on home educated children?


The Ministry of Education will advise the Education Review Office that you are homeschooling. ERO will undertake occasional reviews for the purpose of ensuring the student is being given an education appropriate to their needs and that he/she is not being disadvantaged by being educated at home.

You’ll be required to renew your intention to homeschool every six months. The Ministry of Education will send you a form to do this. This form also allows you to apply for the small supervisory allowance you are entitled to as a home educator.

How do homeschooled students get qualifications?

There are several ways in which homeschooled students can attain qualifications.

  • One way is to sit the Cambridge exams.
  • Another option is to enrol in The Correspondence School.
  • Alternatively a student can return to school at any time. Some homeschooled students return in Year 11 or 12 (see Year Structure in the Glossary) in order to gain NCEA credits.

What about socialisation if I homeschool?

Firstly, what is socialisation?

Socialisation is all about the way a person learns to behave in their community and society in general. For the most part, socialisation is thought to happen in the first ten years of life but it is an ongoing, lifelong process.

There is no need for children to feel isolated if they are homeschooled. There are a number of support and activities groups throughout the country designed to ensure homeschooled students don’t miss out on contact with their peers. This allows them the chance to ‘mingle’ with others in the same situation as them.

And don’t forget about community sports clubs and other activities. Homeschooled students often take part in all the same activities that a student who attends school does.

It is important that parents who choose to home school their child make a concerted effort to involve their children with their peers.  Missing out on this interaction during school hours may mean their social development is affected, so it becomes all the more important that every effort is made to have them socialise with others outside of the home.  This will help home schooled children learn to cooperate, interact and communicate with varying personalities and people.

How do I get in touch with support groups?

There are a number of local home-ed support groups around the country. They often get together for support meetings, trips or tuition.

There are three regional networking groups:

  • Auckland Home Educators,
  • Wellington Homeschool Association, and
  • Christchurch Home Educators.

whose volunteer members will be happy to give you advice and information.

There are two national groups promoting homeschooling awareness throughout New Zealand:

  • The National Council of Home Educators, and
  • The Home Education Foundation.

In addition to these contact points there is an extensive homeschooling information website, www.home.school.nz, and a national network of Facebook groups that allow home educators to contact each other.  Please see the contacts below.

Useful Websites for Home schooling








Kylie Valentine

Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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