It’s an anxious time for parents when their child is not offered a place at the school of their choice. So some consider home schooling instead as, with increasing support and resources online, it grows in popularity.
If you do a search you’ll find several articles around this site about the subject, but here are some quick answers to the most common questions:
How does it work?
Parents use a variety of approaches to learning and can choose which suits. They often start with the familiar school style approach using pre-determined curriculum, workbooks, exercises and programmes, many online. But as parents grow in confidence, meet others and see the way they do it, it becomes apparent that there are a variety of ways to learn, most effectively through first hand experiences. Children can learn from whatever they are doing, at any time, through varied activities, through being engaged, stimulated and motivated. Home educating families learn out of the home as much as in it, from practical and physical activities, field trips, workshops, visits, meeting others and learning together.
How do you meet others?
Through online forums, groups and social media, access to other home schoolers is easy. You can find others locally, create groups and meet ups, maybe for sports or similar activities, social or learning purposes. Many venues (e.g. zoos or special exhibitions) are aware of home educators and offer groups rates as they would to schools. The numbers grow daily as more parents become aware of the success of home education and dissatisfied with schooling. So children have growing opportunity to meet and mix with others; peers, parents and professionals, where they can increase their friendships, social skills and confidence.
How much does it cost?
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Little more in fact than if your children were in school and you were providing extras like materials, books or uniform. There are many free resources online. If you are thrifty and money-wise as a family you can extend that to home education. The trips you’d normally make as a family are as educational as fun, you can share and swap resources with others. It’s not necessary to buy curriculum or whole courses. Parents have found that doing this too soon often ends up being a waste of money. However as children get older and clearer in their preferences parents sometimes do buy exam courses. Some use tutors too. Exams do have to be paid for. Families sometimes use schools and colleges at this time to avoid that cost. And there is an ongoing campaign to get funding for home schooled youngsters to take exams.
How do I do tests, SATs and Exams?
There is no legal requirement to do any of these at home. Tests do not enhance children’s learning and most home school families opt not to. SATs are for school purposes only. However, later on, when families may want to consider qualifications you can follow courses from examining bodies and then take exams at independent centres. Some children do not do GCSEs but go onto Further Education colleges and do alternatives, Access to Uni courses among them.
How are we monitored?
Most Local Authorities ask you to provide evidence that your child is receiving a suitable education usually through home visits, meetings with you at neutral venues, or a written report.
Where can I find out more?
You’ll find other FAQs and articles around the Superprof site about home education/schooling. There’s more info here, plus a list of helpful websites and other home educators’ blogs which give a good picture of how home education works for real.
It’s also where one parent commented that it was when her child didn’t get into the school of their choice that they turned to home educating for a short while. But it worked so well for them they never did return to school.