In life there is never a one size fits all solution, which will successfully benefit the entire population equally. But as parents and guardians, have become busier with their careers, trying to make ends meet. Public and private schools have excelled and become the popular choice for children to receive the core of their education. While homeschooling has become the popular alternative to mainstream education.
While there are many benefits to private and public school education such as interpersonal skills, diversity, inter-peer problem solving and the ability to learn about routine. There are some definite downsides to traditional education such as overfilled classrooms, impersonal curriculums, overworked teachers, irrelevant subjects and cookie-cutter thinking.
But what do you do if your child isn’t enjoying school, finds it hard to engage or is falling behind despite their obvious intelligence? Perhaps your child has a unique talent that makes it difficult for them to attend school or maybe they have had a negative learning experience such as bullying or peer pressure.
If you think mainstream education is not suitable for your child. You might want to consider a different type of education. Homeschooling or unschooling is education which separates itself from the mainstream school system, and is located outside of ‘real’ schools. Homeschoolers may be taught in the personal home of the parent or guardian. But as home schooling is more of a concept and not a location in the same way that a public or private school is, the home school education can actually take place anywhere.
Homeschooling is a beautiful way to teach your child academically, especially if you have the time, dedication and creativity to create a robust homeschooling curriculum that suits your child and supports their talents.
The legal status of home education in the UK is that it is completely legal for parents to decide to homeschool their child. Section 7 of the 1996 education act states that “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive an efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
It is the ‘or otherwise’ part of this law that makes homeschooling legal. The requirements for homeschooling is not strict either, which is goods news. Should you decide to homeschool a child who has never been to school you need do nothing more than just start to homeschool them from age 5 or before should you prefer. If the child is already in mainstream education, then you must write a formal letter to the headteacher of the school to let them know your intentions.
It is your parental right to take your child out of the school system, and the school is legally obliged to accept your wishes as long as you are removing your child from the school entirely. Should you which to split homeschool your children between mainstream school and home then again you must write a formal letter to the head teacher but to this, they may refuse should they so wish. Therefore you have more power in your hands when deciding to either homeschool your child or enroll them in mainstream public or private education.
No other guidelines or homeschooling laws exist, you do not need to be a certified teacher, degree educated or follow the national curriculum.
Home education does not exclusively take place within the home. Photo Source: Unsplash
When I was a child, I wasn’t homeschooled although I wish I had been. My parents instead created a blended approach with mainstream education, private tutors and a summer school program. I would spend the summer holidays studying in the library, Drawing in museums, taking photos in the park, or keeping fit in the children’s playground.
My parents also introduced a structured world program, as I was always interested in culture and the world in general. This meant that during the week I would have to study all about a particular country, their diverse history, their customs, their language etc. each day was dedicated to a new topic. At the end of the week, we would go to a restaurant to try the food from that country.
This alternative education summer program integrated with my fascination for travel and was very relevant to my interests. It also gave me great encouragement to continue to engage in the lesson plans that my parents created as the reward at the end of the week was the best field trips imaginable. The benefits of homeschooling are numerous.
If you have decided on homeschooling your child or are just interested in how to get started. You will be pleasantly surprised by the ease and flexibility of setting up a homeschool for your child. One major tip before you get started is to realise that however, you decide to set up your homeschool that it will be personal to you and your child. There is no set standard for how to create a homeschool program nor for how it works.
Home schools have no central board to govern how things are done nor do they prescribe rules for how education should be administered within the alternative learning environment. This is the significant benefit for your child as the school will be created around them and their skill, interests, strengths and requirements.
You don’t have to follow the national curriculum. Photo Source: Unsplash
Once you have a clearer idea about teaching your child in a homeschool environment. It would be wise, to next think about what it is that you would like your child to achieve from the education that you the educator are going to provide. What outcomes would you want to see at the end of the school year? If your child has already developed some interests or shows exceptional skills in any area, then this could be a strong anchor point for how to achieve these outcomes.
Once you are clear about the outcomes that you would like to see. Next break each outcome into 12 organized bite-sized chunks or between the number of months that you plan to run your home school year. Working backwards, calculate how each step will feed into the next. Once you have broken the outcome into manageable pieces, you can then start to think about how to achieve each of these outcome points.
Once you are educating your child using your curriculum make sure that you refer back to your target outcomes and evaluate how much you have achieved. Creating a way to identify if you have reached your target at the end of each period. So then you can adjust the next term as you go along, in line with your child’s ability and success.
You can do this with formal or informal standardized testing, observing or allowing your child to demonstrate their knowledge. Be careful in your assessment to make sure that you understand what a successful outcome looks like.
Find out more about the difference between homeschooling and online homeschooling.
|Make your own||Personalised to your child's interests, strengths and skills; very flexible||Needs planning and time|
|Curriculum kits||You can buy a program for an entire year||Often expensive; not personal to your child|
|Tutors – Live or online||Allows your child to interact with different people with different expertise||May take time to find the right tutor willing to commit to a school term/year; multiple tutors may get hard to manage and expensive|
|Online Courses||Give you access to learn anything you can think of||You need access to equipment such as an internet compatible device, and an Internet connection|
If you are able to capitalise on the interests that your child already has you are going to make it easy for your child to become engaged in the curriculum that you have created for them. You can also allow them to earn access to their interests as rewards which can be given in line with an achievement or success from the learning activities.
If you are able to take a flexible approach to creating your curriculum you will have better success. You can try and test many things such as learning styles, different resources, learning mediums, locations and times of study. However, you decide to create your classroom, be aware that the goal is to support your child to excel to his or her maximum potential. So if you need to change something to maximise their potential then be committed to doing that ASAP.
Join up with homeschool support groups and communities, you can find these on and offline. Be prepared to share and learn to network with other parents who have been or are doing the same thing that you are doing. These chosen local support groups will be an invaluable resource for you, and they will also provide the opportunity to have group sessions, perhaps a homeschooler field trip and regular socialising for you and your child.
Break each outcome into bite-sized chunks. Photo Source: Unsplash
All parents and guardians want the best for their children, but the best is not always the most obvious or convenient choice. In a world where the global economy is more volatile than ever. It is sensible to assume that the children who can achieve their maximum potential will have the most opportunities available to them in the future.
With education being a critical factor in nurturing the potential and future opportunities for your child. How will you assure their success? Will you manage their education or hand the control of your children to a qualified stranger? Homeschooling, online tutoring, mainstream education or perhaps a blended approach. Whatever you decide, the decision on how to educate your child, for their maximum happiness and success rests in your hands.
What will you choose?