There is no one “right way” to do it. Home education allows families to adopt a learning style that provides an education or learning environment that best reflects the individual child’s needs and family’s lifestyle.
Some families adopt a very structured approach to their learning, planning whole topics of study and following a time table of learning. Families buy or download entire courses and may (although rarely) even follow the National Curriculum
Other families take a fully autonomous approach, whereby the child takes responsibility for their own learning. The child directs and self-manages their own learning and the parent becomes the facilitator in that process providing interesting and stimulating opportunities, help and support.
Many families fall in between these two ends of the spectrum. For instance, they may follow a reading scheme or math programme and then simply respond to the child’s interests with regards to other areas of learning.
Home education allows meaningful socialisation of the child’s choosing. Whilst at school children are amongst other children for a large part of the day, but how much meaningful socialisation actually goes on? Does quantity actually equal quality? On the whole, the day is spent with other children all from the same year group/class, meaning a child has to spend every day with children they happen to share a similar birth date to. During classroom sessions nearly all interactions are controlled and guided by the teacher, they are not free-flowing interactions. The playground unfortunately is usually a place ruled by fear and prejudice; bullying is one of the most common reasons people give for deciding to home educate. The child has to spend the whole day in others company, with little chance to be alone or in a quiet space for a while should they want to.
What home education allows is socialising on the child’s own terms; choosing friends that may or may not be of the same age, race or religion, without fear of ridicule or criticism. Social pressures at school all too often put a high level of unnecessary stress on a child. Allowing children to freely choose friends from a variety of social contexts means they can choose friends who share similar interests, regardless of age or social background. Home educated children can also choose to spend time quietly by themselves when they need to.
Nowhere else in society except for at school, do you spend a large part of your day in a room full of people the same age as yourself, instructed and controlled by a person in authority.
Home education provides more ‘real’ socialisation; one that better prepares children for the wider community.
With regards to learning opportunities and resources, it doesn’t have to be. Although you can buy workbooks, textbooks, even entire courses, with today’s information rich society and the internet there are many, quality free resources at the home educators disposal. In fact schools themselves are relying more and more on internet resources for their teaching. One mustn’t forget the library which can also become a friendly and useful learning space. Science can be done at home using household items, there are many sport and music groups available to join and just by including your child in your daily routines of shopping, cooking, gardening and so on, there are many learning experiences to be had. Schools have to rely a lot on role play scenarios for learning about daily tasks and understanding the community we live in, home education gives your child the opportunity to experience it all for real
Any financial burden families experience is often as a result of the fact that a parent has to spend time with their child on a full time basis. Therefore, many families have to rely on one income or in the case of lone parent families, little or no income.
If your child wants to sit GCSEs, the local authority will not usually pay for this. However, there are many other routes into college, university or the workplace that do not rely on GCSEs.
Home education is simply an extension to the parenting you are already doing. It is about being there for your child when they need you, listening to your child, facilitating their learning, helping them to understand the world around them, responding to their needs and naturally curious nature, nurturing their growth and development. You won’t have all the answers, but then neither do teachers in schools. Many home educating families see learning as a kind of journey that the whole family experiences together. Education is not just answering your child’s questions, but learning how to learn, where and who to find information from and that is something we all continue to learn throughout our lives.