Here in the UK, parents have the legal responsibility for ensuring that their children receive an effective education. For many this means their child enters the school system, but an ever increasing number of parents are choosing not to delegate their child’s education in this way and going down the home-education path instead.
An education is compulsory – school is not.
It has long been established that a variety of different ways and methods of home-education can satisfy the legal requirement for a suitable and efficient full-time education. You do not need to recreate ‘school at home’. You do not need to follow a curriculum unless you wish to do so. Some families find following a curriculum can be a helpful guideline, but many parents choose to go with the flow and follow their child’s interests. You do not need to have a timetable of study, or any sort of set routine or plan, unless you want to. Learning occurs all the time, anywhere, in so many different ways. Such an autonomous freedom and adaptability can create a wonderful educational experience that can develop a real love of learning and increase a child’s self-motivation.
Can any family home-educate?
You do not need to be a teacher, or have any formal qualifications in order to be able to home-educate. You do not need to have a knowledge of every topic or subject, but knowing how to seek out information and a willingness to learn yourself is useful. As a home-educating parent, you learn so many new things as you work alongside and facilitate your child’s education.
You do not need to be financially wealthy. There are many low-income families successfully home-educating. With access to the internet, we have so much information readily available at the touch of a button, and learning resources and experiences are available at little or no cost. You really can adapt and spend as little or as much as you choose.
But what about socialisation?
This is a question that arises time and time again when discussing home-education. Many people believe that home-educated children are denied social opportunities in some way, and some think that friendships may be a struggle to come by and develop.
As a home-educating parent myself I can definitely say that friendships can be found and socialisation doesn’t have to be an issue. However, it would be dishonest of me to suggest that it doesn’t take more effort on the parents part (and sometimes the child!) than perhaps it may do within the school environment.
Home-education groups are all over the country – and ever growing in numbers! It would be a rare occurrence for there not to be a group to attend in a particular area. Some groups are set up purely to allow social interaction between families, whilst others offer tuition and workshop opportunities. A bonus of home-educating is that children can mix with many age groups instead of being confined to a classroom of same-aged peers. It isn’t unusual to attend a HE group and see teenagers chatting with both like aged attendees and much younger – there isn’t the same sort of age barrier that a school set up prevails.
Another benefit of home-education is the freedom of time. A child can attend a variety of clubs and associations, special interest societies etc which can prove to be very enriching. Of course, home-educated children can attend groups such as Brownies, Guides, Scouts, Dance Classes, Drama clubs etc, where socialisation can also take place.
Is it possible to take exams?
YES! A home-educated child can still work for their desired qualifications and take examinations as an outside candidate – although this is often at the cost to the family. There are various avenues open for study, and lots of advice and information available to parents of children wishing to go down the exam route.
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