The Autumn term is commonly a time when parents think about home education, or home schooling as it’s also known, especially if the children don’t settle back into school easily.
With the growth of social media and educational technology it’s become far easier to find both resources and community to support that choice which can be made at any point.
Home education is the legal option to independently facilitate your child’s learning without sending them to school.
At first glance, the prospect of learning at home may appear isolating. But this is a common misconception, radically changed by the huge expansion of the home schooling community and consequently the opportunity to learn alongside other children also out of school, the numbers amounting to thousands.
Groups and get-togethers, both social and educational, are spread all over the country and the opportunity to link up with others has snowballed through online forums and platforms. So no one need homeschool in isolation.
This has also fuelled the spread and sharing of resources around the community, from the large familiar learning sites like the BBC Learning or Channel 4 Learning for example, through a range of less well known sites providing curriculum, creative ideas, worksheets, tips and facilities aimed at home educators in particular. Access to the National Curriculum can be found on the government website. Home educating families also discover and use many resources local to them to enhance their child’s learning experiences, like galleries, art centres, nature reserves, sports halls and parks, swimming facilities or museums. Some of these are beginning to tap into the home education market and provide workshops and activities aimed specifically at them.
So it is the case for most families that learning takes place out of the home, with others, in a group setting, much of the time. Parents soon discover how others approach home education and how other ways to learn than those we’re familiar with through schooling, where children have an education delivered to them rather than participate in it more actively, work just as effectively.
Making the decision to home educate is perhaps the hardest step, especially if you already use mainstream school and find it hard to envisage how these different learning approaches work. There are as many of those as there are parenting styles, but they all work in their own way, allowing a very individualised and tailor made learning style that suits the individual.
A good place to find out how is to visit the many home educators’ blogs. These not only give a regular insight into the home learning life, but many share tips and resources which they’ve found useful.
The reasons parents turn to home schooling are many and varied. Some do so after they found their child didn’t thrive or achieve in school, were unhappy or unwell, or their needs weren’t met. Others feel unhappy with the practices (like continual testing for example), or the relationships there, (bullying is often cited as a reason). In contrast to the expectation that school is a good grounding for the social world, others claim it is far from it and are unhappy with the interaction, disrespect and unnatural clustering. Some parents have strong educational philosophies from the outset and the children never attend school.
However they start out, and whatever their reasons for home educating, most of these home schooled youngsters go on to achieve what their school contemporaries do, go on to further or higher education, or into work.
There is much dissatisfaction and distrust among parents of the school system, of the pressure and the politics and it’s affect on their children and how it’s spoiling what should be an inspirational learning life. And growing numbers of families are finding that home educating provides a workable and successful alternative.