What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling can seem like a bit of an unknown if you're not familiar with it. In this section, we'll try to demystify the subject and discuss some of the key points. We'll cover how to start homeschooling, what the law says about home education and finally, how to be confident when choosing a curriculum.
What is Home Schooling?
Within this category:
How to Start Homeschooling
Think About It
Before you even start homeschooling, think carefully about what homeschooling means for you. Ask yourself some of the following questions.
- Have you got the time to educate and mentor your child?
- What will your child’s study timetable look like, do they have any other sporting or vocational commitments?
- Do you have a good support network to help you?
- Are you being pressured into homeschooling?
Have a look online and see if there is a local home education group. They will be happy to speak to you about their experiences. Education Otherwise has a great directory of home education groups all over the UK.
Withdrawing From School
You have a legal right to homeschool in the UK. To withdraw from school all you need to do is write to the school stating that you are choosing to home educate and are withdrawing your child from school. You can explain your reasons for withdrawing if you wish, but you are under no obligation to do so. The exception to this is if your child is in a special needs school where you will need the agreement of the school.
Decide How You are Going to Homeschool
There is no one way of homeschooling and homeschooling doesn’t, for most people, attempt to replicate exactly what happens in school. Homeschooling covers a whole array of different philosophies from the “unschoolers” to those who replicate schooling as closely as possible.
I guarantee if you asked 100 different families about their method of homeschooling, you would get 100 different answers. My advice is to think about your child and how they learn best and try to play to those strengths.
Join Your Local Home Education Community
You don’t have to join your local home ed community but if you do you will find it an invaluable source of support and activity. All over the UK home educators get together for all sorts of activities, from gym classes, parkour and trampolining to science and maths clubs. As well as giving your child opportunities to socialise, attending this meetings gives you the opportunity to speak with other parents doing and going through the same experiences. The insights learnt at a meeting like this will feedback into your own homeschooling experience.
Take Your Time
Accept that neither you nor your child will be great at homeschooling from the first day. You may well decide how you are going to home educate and then two weeks later decide to try another tack. Every home educating parent will go through this process. If you are home educating because your child has had a hard time at school then it may well take longer for your child to rediscover their love of learning.
Finally be Kind to Yourself
Like most thing’s in life these days, take everything you read on social media with a pinch of salt. If you find someone blogging about how perfect their homeschooling experience is and the vast amounts their children are learning, then you are reading a highly edited version of real life. Don’t let others apparent successes get you down and celebrate the progress you make.
Homeschooling and the Law
This guidance is a summary of the information provided in the Elective Home Education Guidelines for Parents (April 2019) published by the UK’s Department for Education.
Is it Legal?
As parents, you – not the state – are responsible for ensuring that your child, if they’re compulsory school age, is properly educated. Despite the term ‘compulsory school age’, education does not have to be undertaken through attendance at school.
Home Schooling is covered very briefly by Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:
“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
Home Education is covered in this guidance by the word “otherwise”.
What is an Efficient Full-time Suitable Education?
An efficient education, within the meaning of section 7, is one which “achieves what it sets
out to achieve”.
There is currently no legal definition of “full time”. As we’ve already mentioned, homeschooling does not need to follow a school timetable. It is, however, useful as a guide. Typically, in a state school, children receive between 4 and 5 hours of education a day for approximately 190 days of the year.
The government also states that “education which manifestly is not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life (making due allowance for holiday periods) will probably not meet the section 7 requirement.”
Suitable means efficient, full-time, and suitable to the child’s age, ability, and aptitude, and to any special
educational needs they may have.
How Homeschooling is Beneficial for your Child
The great benefit of homeschooling is the complete flexibility it comes with. If you don’t like the academic timetable, you don’t have to follow it. Do you want to play tennis on Wednesdays? No problem. Work better later in the day? That’s fine too. Want to take a holiday outside of the traditional and typically more expensive school holidays? Go for it!
Students who homeschool have the advantage of working at their own pace without the distractions or peer pressures that can be associated with the classroom.
If your child suffers from anxiety or school-phobia, homeschooling may also suit their needs.
Some students choose to” flexi-school” in these instances too. Flexi-schooling is subject to the school being prepared to support a flexible approach.
Follow their Interests
Another plus for home education is that you are not necessarily limited to specific syllabuses and you do not have to follow a rigid lesson plan set by someone else. If you find your child particularly fascinated with a certain topic, you can research it to your heart’s content before having to move on. You can also bring other subjects into areas of interest. For example, if your child is fascinated by wildlife, you could incorporate subjects like geography, business and natural sciences.
Even if you do choose to follow a more fixed lesson plan, you may well find yourself with more time outside of typical studying to explore individual interests and passions.
Homeschooling also tends to be a great option for students with specific talents and vocations. Many tennis players, ballerinas, and actors choose to home educate as it can fit flexibly alongside their lifestyle.
Independent study is a valuable skill that home education can provide a great basis for. The ability to learn and research with reduced guidance can greatly benefit students, especially if they plan on continuing into higher education.