Another increasingly popular alternative to mainstream schooling is home education or home schooling. This is when parents exercise their legal right to educate their children at home.
The term ‘home’ educating tends to give an inaccurate impression because most parents include a wide variety of opportunities outside the home in their educational provision, visiting sites of specific interest, museums, galleries and workshops, and interacting with others doing the same. Far from being isolated at home without any friends children are regularly integrated into society through all the usual children’s activities (clubs and classes, for example), opportunities to learn with other professionals and crafts people as home educating becomes more popular, and expanding home educating networks.
Families follow a huge diversity of approaches to their children’s education out of school, some like to use a school-like day others have a more relaxed approach that evolves from their individual circumstances. There is no legal requirement to follow the National Curriculum or the school style structure of time tabling, subject division, age restrictions or testing, although some do choose to do so. More usually parents follow a child orientated approach that starts from individual needs and interests and progresses out from there.
For example, if a child is reading easily then they can choose what to read rather than stick to a reading scheme. If a child needs more time to adapt to reading then parents can encourage their child through other activities, play, or reading to them.
The same applies to all subjects. Parents can take a very individual and child orientated approach, rather than a tightly pre-determined one which means the child can receive an education suited to their needs and not suited to the needs of others – or a school.
At first glance this personal approach might seem too unstructured to work. But most families find it successful because it helps maintain that natural desire to learn that all kids have by learning through activities that the child’s interested in. The children achieve well and are inspired to continue.
This does not mean the children are never challenged. They set their own challenges through being self-motivated, stimulated, encouraged and having confidence built up through achievement rather than failure. (I’m going to explain a little more about autonomous learning in a future article).
Some parents may feel that if they are not teachers themselves they wouldn’t have the necessary skills to home educate. But this is not the case. It requires a similar involvement as when they taught their children pre-school to walk and talk – the beginnings of language, development other skills, like use of utensils for example. Most parents can continue developing their children’s skills with this natural approach through encouragement and demonstration.
Since there are so many parents choosing this option now there are a variety of home education blogs and websites which give a real-life view of what it’s like in a home educating family and what kind of activities they do. These are helping to dispel inaccurate assumptions about home schooled children being weird, or unsocial, unproductive, intensely groomed or isolated. The home schooled children now grown up and moving onto Uni, or into work, some without ever having been to school, are proof of the workable and successful option this can be.
You’ll find more information and support along with a collection of these blogs on my website.