How To Start Homeschooling
There’s a range of reasons why you might choose to avoid the conventional school route for your children, but once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, it can be a little daunting to know how to get started. In our guide, we’ll run you through the initial steps to take before you make the switch, the basic supplies and give some other general hints and tips too.
How To Homeschool: Getting Started
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1. Check the legal requirements
It’s worth making sure you’re aware of the legal requirements around homeschooling, as they can vary in line with your country of residence. According to GOV.UK, parents in the UK are required by law to provide a full-time education for their children, from the age of 5 until the end of the academic year prior to their 16th birthday.
A representative from your local council can visit to make an ‘informal enquiry’, effectively checking your child is being educated properly at home. If they see fit, they can also serve a school attendance order.
2. Inform the school
If your children are currently attending school, you’ll need to inform the office that you’re planning to withdraw them for homeschooling. If you request that they continue to attend school part-time, the school can refuse this, if they think it would be too disruptive for their classes, or your children’s education.
3. Choose a homeschooling style
There are many different approaches to homeschooling – from structured styles like School-At-Home and Classical Homeschooling, to more informal paths like the Charlotte Mason method. Take a look at the different homeschooling styles, to work out which method is most suitable for your family.
4. Build your curriculum
Your children don’t have to learn the National Curriculum, so now’s the time to think about what they’d like to focus on (and what you’d like to teach). If you’re not sure where to start, you can always use the National Curriculum as a base line, adding in more of what they love or specific topics you’re keen for them to learn. For more guidance, see our ‘how to choose a homeschool curriculum’ guide.
5. Set up a makeshift classroom
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bedroom or reception room, this could be the ideal place to set up a classroom – but the kitchen table or a desk in the lounge can do just as well. Having a dedicated space to work in will encourage your children to focus during study time, especially if you set up learning materials around it, like displays of their work so far, or educational posters.
6. Join a local (or online) homeschool group
The homeschooling community is far larger than you might think – in fact, most counties in the UK have a homeschool community group, which you can join both in person and on social media. You can find a directory of local homeschooling groups here.
A group like this is a great resource, not only for you but for your children too. You can meet other parents who are teaching homeschool, get advice and share ideas, while your children can benefit from the company of other children their own age, and build a social circle.
7. Set small goals for your first term
It’s bound to take a while for you to find your feet as a homeschool teacher, so try not to worry if the first term (or year) is a bit hit and miss. Setting small, realistic goals is a great way to celebrate your children’ progress, like completing a module or finishing a piece of coursework.
Making these goals visible is even better. Why not write a list of milestones you’d like to reach on a whiteboard or flip chart, and tick them off each week?
Homeschool Supplies: What Equipment Do I Need?
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Getting all your supplies together before you begin homeschooling can make all the difference. It’ll motivate you to get started, and once you’ve got your hands on the key learning materials, help you to plan your days more clearly too. For a more detailed list of the equipment you need for homeschooling, take a look at the Oxford Home Schooling guide to homeschool supplies – but we’ll run through the essentials below.
Books and Textbooks
The books you need for homeschooling will vary in line with the curriculum you choose, but it’s likely your children will require text books, for subjects like maths, science and geography, as well as fiction books for English. If your child is looking to take SATs, GCSEs or A Levels, there’s a wide range of textbooks designed to cater to these exams, as well as all-inclusive courses, like those offered here at Oxford Home Schooling.
You can see what other children in that age group are reading in the National Curriculum, and pick something similar, or choose something else you think your child would prefer.
Homeschooling without technology can certainly be done, but it’s far less challenging if you have access to online resources via a computer, laptop or tablet. You might also want to consider investing in a small projector, a good set of headphones and a digital camera for documenting progress, or using in creative projects.
As well as these more sizeable bits of tech, there are the basics to cover, including a decent calculator for subjects like maths and physics, as well as a USB stick, and maybe a stopwatch for any timed exercises.
It’s easy to go overboard with stationery, and there’s such a huge choice, it can be difficult to work out exactly what you need. Here are a few key staples to get you started:
- Exercise books (lined, plain and graph paper)
- A3 coloured paper
- Writing pens and pencils
- Coloured pens and pencils
- Rulers and erasers
- Scissors and glue sticks
- Sticky notes
- Subject folders
Storage is perhaps the least obvious homeschooling essential, but as well as needing somewhere to keep all the supplies mentioned above, you’ll also need a place for your child to put their work.
Finding a space big enough for your teaching materials is a good idea, and separating these out by subject – whether in box files, caddies or drawers – is bound to save time in the long run. If you can, you could also allocate a personal space to your child, where they can store books, subject folders, stationery and any other bits and pieces.
Decided to start homeschooling, and keen to read a bit more about how it works? Take a look at our What Is Homeschooling guide, or head over to the Homeschooling Hub for more helpful articles about the world of education at home.
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What equipment do you need for homeschooling?
The most essential supplies for homeschooling include a table and chairs, basic stationery, the technology you’re planning to use (like an iPad or laptop), and whatever you need for your curriculum – such as textbooks and posters. Take a look at our guide to homeschool supplies for more information.
How many hours a day should I homeschool?
There’s no need to stick to a static schedule with homeschooling; as long as your children are receiving a ‘full-time education’, they can study and take breaks whenever works for you. Aim for an average of 3 to 4 hours of learning per day, and adjust this according to your children’s needs, and progress.
How do you set up a homeschool space?
Setting up a homeschool space will help to get your children into the zone when the time comes to study. It could be a corner of your kitchen or a dedicated classroom – regardless, a homeschool space should be an area where your children can learn with minimal interruptions.
What is the best age to start homeschooling?
The UK government requires that your child receives a full-time education from the age of 5, so unless you’re planning to send your children to school first, this is when you’ll need to begin homeschooling.
How much does it cost to homeschool in the UK?
In the UK, the government does not provide any financial support for those to choose to home school their children, but it can certainly be done on a budget. There are many free and low-cost resources available, from local libraries to YouTube classes, but some purchases – like basic stationery and WiFi – can’t be avoided.