Should you home educate your child?
Making the decision to home educate can be very overwhelming as a parent. You may fear that you will be limiting your child in some way but it is often the best choice for them and your family. There are a number of questions to consider when making the decision and I discuss them below.
Do you have access to a good school?
There are lots of really great schools in our country, if you are lucky enough to be near one, this might be the best option for your child. Unfortunately there are also lots of not-so-good schools and you may find it is your only option. Many people home educate because they cannot access a good school. You should consider their academic grading, the number of children being excluded from the school, and whether they offer good support for students with additional needs.
Will home education be better for your child due to the learning challenge they face?
Many children with learning challenges do not get the support that they need in a mainstream school. This can lead to behaviour consequences and possible exclusions. Sometimes a school is not a conducive environment for them to learn and working at home or with small groups helps them more. If your feel your child is not getting the support they need you can chose to home educate permanently or temporarily while you look at alternative schools.
Will home education suit your child who has a medical illness?
It depends on the condition that they suffer with. If it is a mild condition that has a low impact on their daily life, they might be completely fine in school. If they require a lot of personal care then it is often a better choice as some schools cannot cope with the requirements. Sometimes a chronic condition can mean that they have lots of time off school, either in hospital or convalescing at home. This puts large gaps in their education and makes it hard for them to feel caught up with their peers. If you home educate, you can take it at their pace, doing more when they are well enough, and you can be sure they are not missing classwork.
Is there a local home education group that you can join?
Each area usually has a local group for the families who are home educating. They spend time together to allow their children to develop friendships and social skills. They attend education centres and are usually eligible for a HE group discount. They also share the cost of tutors for specialist subjects. Often the different parents will cover a particular topic so that the children learn from a number of different people. If there is no such group in your area, you might feel more isolated or have to travel further than you are comfortable with, so it is worth looking around.
The other option is to join an online HE group which will offer advice and arrange day trips for people who live further away. This is also a way of finding out about educational centres to visit and good tutors.
Do you enjoy spending all day with your child?
Most parents will say they love their children and love to spend time with them, but often they enjoy the break when they are away at school. When you are home educating, your child spends most of their time with you, they will be involved in all aspects of your life. So think about how you will manage your daily routine, work, housework, grocery shopping, medical appointments etc with your child. It needs to fit in with your life unless you are able to make drastic changes.
Do you have the confidence to teach your child?
As a home educating parent, you are completely responsible for your child’s education. This can be very daunting to some people, especially if you feel your own level of education will not meet the needs of your child. There are a range of online courses which you can take to educate yourself so that you can help your child in the best way possible. Remember that you do not have to teach the same subjects as they would be learning in school, you can cover a wider variety or have a narrow focus depending on what suits your family. You may have a particular interest which you could teach your child, and possibly the other local HE children, and in return one of the other parents may teach your child something that you are not as confident about or interested in. You do not have to be the only educator in their life.
Do you have to report to anyone?
This question comes up frequently and it differs depending on your location in the UK and your local council. By law, you have the right to provide alternate education for your child. The education officer for the local council is the person who you will write a report to about your child’s progress each year. Many of them will tell you that they must come to your house for an inspection, but this is untrue, you can deal with them over the phone, by email, or go to their office. You do not have to let them into your house. The exception is Scotland where they are less open to home education and interfere more.
Do you have to follow the school curriculum?
No. Once you deregister your child from the school roll, their education becomes your responsibility and you do not have to match what the school covers. Some people choose to mimic a school curriculum because they are considering their child going back to school for formal examinations. If you would like your child to take formal exams, such as GCSE’s you can purchase a specific course and you will need to ensure they cover all of the content so that they are properly prepared for the examinations. I would recommend somewhere like Oxford Home Schooling to find courses. They provide all the materials needed and you have access to advisors if you are having trouble with something.
Do you need to employ a tutor for every subject you want your child to study?
No. Some people chose to hire a tutor for particular subjects, but it is not necessary. It depends on many things. I would recommend a tutor for any subject that you know nothing about, to give your child the best chance of understanding it. Alternatively, take an online course yourself first or learn along with your child. New Skills Academy offers a great range of courses. Tutors vary in the subjects they teach, the level they go up to and their prices so it is worth looking around. Make sure you and your child get along with them, and that they have a valid Enhanced Disclosure certificate to work with children. It is also worth asking for references but be aware they may not have a reference for every age of child.
What age does your child need to be to be eligible for home education?
You can home educate for your child’s entire education, from birth to degree level. There are many online courses for all levels of students. You can also choose to send them to school for some of that time and home educate for some of it. Some families will send their children to secondary school after home educating through the primary years or vice versa.
Can you send one child to school and home educate your other child?
Yes. The decision is individual for each child you have. One may thrive in a home environment while the other thrives in school. You can always change your mind if you need to.