So how do you home educate?
This young home educated gent is pictured here collecting and test driving his garden tractor. Mum says: “He now has a project to do it up. He bought it himself, counted out his pennies etc... So we now know he can count in 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's! He is now spending time planning what colour paint and what type of vintage looking tractor that he's going to turn it in to, then next year he will take it to steam fairs!"
You might not realise this but it's parents' responsibility to provide their child with an education suitable to their age, aptitudes and needs - not the state's. We have to fulfil that duty by sending them to school OR by educating them at home OR by flexischooling (a combination of both). More and more of us are choosing the latter two options.
Some of us decide never to send our children to school from when they are just tiny. Some of us take our children out of school to home educate for a variety of reasons:- bullying; a school's failure to address our children's needs; unhappiness with the curriculum; rigidity of the school system or just because our children are downright miserable there. Others want or need the flexibility of part-time school with home learning. This page is focused on home education or the 'learning at home' bit of the flexischool arrangement. (Watch out for a flexischool guide coming soon, meanwhile see the Contact page to access more info).
Every child is different and the beauty of home education is that you can provide an education entirely tailored to their needs and interests.
If you are thinking of home educating the best thing to do is talk to and meet lots of different families beforehand and read lots of blogs to get inspiration and a sense of what is possible. (Scroll down for some links to great blogs by local home educators.)Think about how you've parented your children to date and what you think learning and education should really be about. Talk to your children about the things they like to do, their aspirations and what makes them happy. If possible let them meet other home educated kids before you start. We hold socials in school holidays to allow you to do just that.
Another thing you need to think about if you are the sole earner or one of you will need to stop working or reduce your hours is how you will cope financially. If you think "ah these home educators must all be well-off but I couldn't manage it" just know that there are many of us who manage on very limited incomes. We have lots of strategies to make it work: becoming self-employed or working part-time, getting grandparents/friends/other family to help out or just learning to live more frugally. You can spend as little or as much as you like on home education - there are many free or cheap resources and we often share, swap or donate books, toys and kits (and remember no more spending on uniforms).
You don't need any qualifications to home ed all you need is to enjoy spending time with your kids and learning new things together.
If your child has never been to school you do not have to inform any authority about your decision to home educate, just get on with it! If your child is in a mainstream school you simply send the Head a standard letter (copies on our Facebook Group) and don’t send your child in any more. The school must take their name off the roll and let the local authority know. (For special schools paid for by the LEA you need to make a request to the LEA but they cannot unreasonably refuse).
Some of us take a semi-structured approach with set times to do Maths, English and whatever subjects our children are interested in and then lots of free time for them to play or do sports or visit places. Some of us give our children complete autonomy to decide how they spend their time and simply facilitate their interests and arrange whatever resources they need and everyone else is somewhere in between! There’s not really such a thing as an ‘average day’ but one thing’s for sure you may not spend much time at home!
The internet provides a vast array of learning opportunities and courses to suit every interest. Lots of us use free sites like Khan Academy, Future Learn and DuoLingo. Then there are subscription sites like Twinkl (which covers everything!), Reading Eggs and Conquer Maths for literacy and numeracy respectively. Locally there are amazing woodlands, nature reserves, historic buildings, animal parks, beaches, plus lots of activities at the Library, Theatre and Museum of Somerset with free films at the Odeon in November.
In our society learning is often seen as something you really need to be sat at a desk following a curriculum to do. We think differently! Yes sometimes our children might choose to sit and work on something or study or join classes and workshops to gain new skills but they spend a lot of time just learning through living their lives: playing, exploring new places, creating things, growing things, looking after animals, watching documentaries, making videos and experimenting.
If you child wants to sit exams you can get advice from parents who’ve supported kids through IGCSEs or from parents whose kids have got qualifications at local colleges.
On the 'Home Education and the law' page you can find out more about your rights as a home educator and how local authorities are supposed to work with us. But let's just emphasise here there are certain things you are absolutely not expected to do including: follow the National Curriculum; provide a broad and balanced education (i.e. if your child just wants to play their cello, make Minecraft videos and turn your kitchen into a science lab that's fine!); provide formal lessons; test your children; mark their work; formally assess their progress; keep school hours; make plans in advance or match school-based, age-specific standards.
Great home education blogs by local home educators: