Many parents find that their child doesn’t settle in school. So, with increasing opportunities to learn independently, especially online, they are turning to home education as a solution.

In fact many now dispute whether children need school at all. And whether it’s the best place to learn about and cope with the challenges in life as is sometimes maintained. Instead they believe that school is nothing like life and is not replicated anywhere beyond it.

Many parents also dispute that there’s something ‘wrong’ with their child if they don’t settle. They take the opposite view; that it is the school system that is wrong rather than the child.

We had many reservations about sending our children to school – but accepted we might be wrong and they went for a while. However, they soon became unhappy, unwell and lost their love of learning, so we decided to home educate.

We continued home educating, as did many others we met, until they were ready for college and university, which proves the point; children don’t necessarily need to be in school to become educated or equipped with the life skills they need.

And they certainly don’t need to suffer any of the difficulties many families encounter, like:

Bullying – nothing makes a child more miserable. If they’re miserable they can’t achieve as they should. And if it is the staff doing the bullying both children and parents can feel powerless to overcome it. During our years of home schooling we never experienced or witnessed bullying in any group, or of any kind, at any time.

Unhappiness in the school climate – the school climate does not suit every child. Every child is different as we adults are all different. Some of us thrive in a situation others find debilitating. Many children suffer in a learning environment where there is too much noise, stress, distraction or crowding. Educating out of school gives parents the opportunity to provide the learning climate their child needs to thrive and achieve.

Stress from too much testing – children are continually tested in schools. Some parents believe that testing is an essential part of their child’s learning. But testing does not enhance or progress learning, it just measures what has been learned and as such is not relevant to the child. It is only relevant for charts or league tables which are not valuable to an individual’s education. Many home schooled children go through the whole of their education without the stress of tests yet still function and achieve when it comes to later exams.

Learning needs not being met – as I said earlier all children are different and they all have different needs. Some pick things up quickly and easily, others need more time. Some learn well from academic approaches, others need more experiential approaches and greater hands-on opportunities. Some thrive in stillness and quiet, others need to be more physical, moving about, learn best to music or noise. Most learn best by doing, rather than by listening, but schools do not have the opportunity to cater for all the differing needs and approaches required. Many home educators find that once out of the classroom the ‘learning difficulties’ their child had in school fades away and their particular needs can be accommodated.

An inhibiting curriculum – the system of schooling and examining requires that children be tested and measured. To do so schools need to adhere to a fairly rigid curriculum and timetable. But because of this much of what children learn about in schools is irrelevant and of no interest. Therefore youngsters become less motivated and disengaged. There is also the danger of making those who don’t achieve within a given time frame into ‘failures’. This exam orientated curriculum also overlooks the need for learning life skills. It is these life skills, like initiative, thinking skills, confidence, assertiveness, which employers say our youngsters lack, even though they may have qualifications. Children gain life skills from leading their lives. But they seldom have the chance to lead anything whilst they’re busy getting grades. It is this life-skill side of education that flourishes so well when children are educated out of school and have more power over their education, and their life, and their learning is taken out of a time frame.

The unhealthy social climate – the social climate in schools has long been considered acceptable and a place where children learn to be socialised. But as schools grow larger, and the competitive pressure is greater, many parents now dispute this as they watch their children adopt undesirable behaviours simply to survive. Children cannot learn acceptable social behaviour from other kids who are also socially unskilled. Children learn social skills by being with adults who already have them. And they learn to interact in social settings by being in a wide variety of social settings with people of all ages. Home education gives opportunity to provide this within a safe and happy environment.

With the advent of learning on the web and the opportunity to network with many others also home educating it is possible for families whose children don’t settle in school to educate without it.

Ross Mountney

Author of ‘Learning Without School. Home Education’ and ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’


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