Thinking of Home Educating?
After two years of lockdowns, we talk to many families who report to us that children who had been suffering with anxiety, bullying and other issues in school, noticeably blossomed when lockdowns meant them not having to attend school. Perhaps this is the reason why more and more families are now considering Home Education to be the best option for their child emotionally, socially and academically. Parents across the world have been able to see what it wasn’t possible to see before, that some children are happier and healthier when they do not attend school.
Clearly all children are different and many children enjoy school and do well at school emotionally, academically and socially. But if your child isn’t one of those that thrives in school, there is an alternative path, which may well suit your child much better.
It is not our intention to try to persuade any family to do one thing or the other. We fully understand that every family and every child is unique. This blog is for those who are seriously considering Home Education in the UK. In subsequent blogs I will be outlining the legal obligations, how to de-register your child from school and giving some guidelines as to how to get started. We will also be blogging about ideas for keeping Home Education in the UK exciting and making it work for you as a family.
Why Home Educate?
If you are thinking of Home Education for your child or children, it is important to know that you do not need to make home like school. Home Education can be as varied and creative as the children and families that choose it! That is one of the wonderful things about being a Home Educating family, you can fit it around your child!
There are many reasons people choose to Home Educate. You may have ideological, philosophical, religious or cultural views which you feel would be better met through education at home. It maybe dissatisfaction with the school system or that your child’s educational or mental health needs are not being met in school or just as a short term intervention for a particular reason. All of these are valid reasons. Perhaps the most important thing is to follow your “gut instinct”. If it feels right to remove your child from school, it is time to start to explore how home education can work for your child.
As a parent you are legally responsible for your child’s education, whether at school or otherwise. This is what the law says:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive an efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendee at school or otherwise.
Your Bespoke Home Learning Experience
Notice in the above quote from the 1996 Education Act, Section 7, what the law tells you to provide: “an efficient full-time education suitable to …” AND what it doesn’t tell you to do – no set hours, subjects or styles of learning are mentioned.
If you choose to Home Educate you can choose the approach that fits your child best be it structured, formal, unstructured, child led, autonomous, unschooled or a combination of bits of all of these. There are no legal requirements for you as parents educating a child at home to do any of the following:
- You do not have to follow the National Curriculum. You can choose a specific curriculum or approach that you feel is suitable for your child then you are well within your rights to provide that. You and your child can choose where, what, how and with whom your child will learn!
- You do not have to observe school hours, days or term, have a timetable or have set hours during which education will take place. Home Education can take place anywhere, anytime and can be ongoing or stand alone!
- You do not have to formal lessons, make detailed lesson plans in advance, mark work done by the child, formally assess progress, or set development objectives. A more formal plan can be followed and reviewed if you wish, but learning can also be more experiential, child led, practical and organic. There are also lots of other Home Education service and providers out there that can support you and your child in their learning journey!
- You do not have to match school-based, age-specific standard, sit tests or take GCSEs. This is still an option if you choose to do and I will discuss the practicalities of this in a future blog.
Starting your Home Education Journey
Once you have realised all the things that you do not have to do, you can start to get excited about making Home Education work for your child and for your family. This is where the fun begins!
My best advice is to try things – try it and see if it works. Remember it is very important that it doesn’t just work for your child, but it also works for you as a family as Home Education is a commitment and way of life. We tried lots of different things as a family and have also changed our way of working and learning along the way too when needed. Flexibility, Creativity, Spontaneity and Experimentation have been the key to our Home Educating Journey.
You can decide what and when to prioritise for you individual child:
- Does your child need time to heal emotionally, if they have had high levels of anxiety or stress in school?. Could you focus on subjects that they finds less stressful for a few months before slowly adding these subjects through play? Or they might just need some time out before refocusing on their learning.
- Does your child thrive when learning alongside other children or enjoy having someone other than you being the “teacher” (in which case you can always check out our Learn Laugh Play courses!)
- Does your child have special interests or budding talents they would like to pursue? Are there skills, hobbies or interests that are not taught in school that you think your child would be interested in developing further?
Don’t overwhelm your child or yourself at first. Work out what your top priorities are to get started on, i.e. finding friends or getting stuck into something your child loves. Then book a few classes or activities, try something new or plan a topic to explore. See what works and don’t be afraid to stop doing something that doesn’t work and try something else. Include lots of fun child-led activities as so much learning happens when children are playing and having fun!
Your Home Education Experiences
What home education offers that schools cannot do for every single individual child is a bespoke learning experience, with your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing at the forefront of every decision that you make. Learning should be fun and exciting and allow your child the opportunity to thrive!
Please comment below to share your experiences in the early days as a home educating family – we want to know and to be able to inspire other families!