Many parents feel that traditional schooling is simply not the right fit for their children or for their family as a whole. Whether rigid timetables, standardised curricula or social issues (such as bullying) are the cause of this dissatisfaction, parents sometimes keep their kids at school due to a lack of awareness of the myriad of available options.
If you are interested in making a positive change to your child’s education, and you wish to opt for a more flexible style of schooling, these are a few options you might consider:
- Flexible Schooling: Under this system, your child remains registered at school and attends part-time, and you are responsible for the rest of their education. This programme requires approval from the school’s Head Teacher, and perhaps from the Local Authority as well.
- Montessori: Children work in mixed-aged groups and are free to choose if they prefer to work in groups or alone.
- Summerhill: Children have the right to choose whether or not to attend class and they decide aspects of their education at democratic meetings where everyone, irrespective of age, has an equal vote.
- Steiner-Waldorf Schools: The Steiner-Waldorf philosophy embraces creativity and uses storytelling, visual arts, nature and playtime to nurture emotional and cognitive intelligence. Children immerse themselves in particular subjects for long periods of time and importance is given to practical as well as theoretical learning (children are taught to knit and sew, for instance).
- Homeschooling: Some parents opt to take full responsibility for their child’s education and in the UK, as in many countries, they are legally entitled to do so; they merely have to inform the school’s Head Teacher and de-register their child (in Scotland, consent is required from the Local Authority as well).
How to Get Started with Homeschooling
Once your child has been de-registered, you are not legally obliged to follow a specific curriculum or educated your child for set hours; all you are required to do is provide a ‘full-time education’. Some parents let their children lead the classes, while others prefer to purchase structured curricula that are similar to those followed in standard schools. Most homeschooling parents will be pleased to share information on the wealth of free online resources available, since ‘package curricula’ can be costly. Moreover, avoiding official curriculum affords parents and children the freedom they have been seeking in the first place.
Homeschooling parents place importance on practical and creative learning, frequently taking their children on field trips and group activities with other home-schooled children, so that social interaction remains an important part of education. Parents often incorporate elements from different methods (including the Steiner-Waldorf, Susan Wise Bauer and Charlotte Mason philosophies) into their daily classes. These methods differ in structure and content but all extol the virtues of a bespoke education and the value of making learning a unique, fun and practical (as well as theoretical) experience.