The number of parents choosing to home educate their children in the UK continues to grow, with latest estimates putting the number of children of compulsory education age (5-16) at around 60,000.
Sian Goodspeed, Founder of Flying Start Tuition, who home educates her two daughters, answers your questions about home education.
What is home education?
It simply means parents take responsibility for their children’s education rather than delegating it to a school. Children who are home educated receive all their education from their parents or carers, sometimes with the help of outside tutors. The parents do not have to follow the National Curriculum, stick to school hours or be qualified as teachers.
Why do parents choose to home educate?
Some parents choose this route long before the child starts school because of religious, philosophical or cultural reasons. Others, who enjoyed teaching their own children during the early years, are keen to continue this journey when the child turns five. There are also the children who didn’t fit in, were bullied, suffer from an illness or have special needs. Others may simply have been switched off from learning or struggling to keep up in a “one-size-fits-all” mainstream school environment. A huge appeal of home education, especially with the ever-increasing pressure on school places, is that parents have the flexibility to create a ‘tailor-made’ education for their child.
What are the different approaches to home education?
Some parents follow a structured or ‘school at home’ type of approach, focusing on traditional school subjects, perhaps using the National Curriculum.
Others choose a more autonomous approach, often more child-led and based around the child’s natural interests. Some parents opt for a mixture between the two.
What are the advantages of home educating your child?
• Home-educated children often develop into very resourceful adults because they’ve learned (with support from adults) to think for themselves and make their own mistakes. There is less of a ‘conveyor belt’ approach and more focus on the individual.
• Parents have the flexibility to create a ‘tailor-made’ education that suits the child’s own pace and style of learning without concerns about fitting in, being held back by others or moving too quickly.
• There is no continuous testing or exams and children can take a break from schoolwork when they feel they’ve had enough. – Less stress!
• Non-schooled children are often very confident, possibly because the children aren’t constantly measured against others and set standards, but are simply encouraged to follow their own interests at their own pace.
• Peer pressure and bullying is reduced as the children socialise with adults and children of their own choice.
What are the challenges of home education?
• It takes a lot of time, effort and energy on the part of the parents.
• There is no set outcome, which may be a worry for some parents.
• Many parents fear they’re not qualified to teach their children. This need not be a problem, though, as parents can combine their own knowledge with workbooks, tutors, online information, practical activities, visits to museums etc to offer a very rich and varied form of learning.
• Funding – parents have to pay for their child’s materials and exams, plus home educating your child means less time to earn an income.
• Some parents worry about socialisation but there are many opportunities for children to mix with other children through organised trips, regular groups, camps or meet-ups at the park! In fact, this is one of the great advantages of home education: children mix with and therefore learn to relate to a range of age groups, in a range of situations rather than being largely confined to the same group of children all of a similar age.
Where can home educating parents get support?
Flying Start Tuition has recently launched a range of courses to support home educated children. The courses focus on English and maths up to GCSE level, as well as Eleven Plus preparation for those children planning to enter the school system at secondary level. Sessions are planned and designed around the children in each group, taking into consideration their individual learning styles and providing them with opportunities to work collaboratively as well as independently.
Other sources of information on home education:
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