Home education, typically called homeschooling, is on the rise worldwide, and the UK is no exception. In three years, the number of children being homeschooled in the UK has risen by almost 40%. Numbers show that in 2014 there were around 34,000 home educated kids, and 2016 brought 48,000. These numbers are expected to continue to increase.
Why are More UK Parents Homeschooling?
Each family chooses to homeschool for different reasons, but many parents say mental health issues and exclusion from the classroom are two top reasons. An increase in bullying problems has also been stated as a factor many parents cite in their decision to home educate.
School policies also cause parents to make the switch. Parents dislike the lack of school choice and the issues that arise if their child has poor attendance. Poor attendance has become a wide-spread issue, and parents are frustrated with the problem. Other parents simply want to provide a better education for their child, and they believe they’re able to do this at home.
How to Start Homeschooling
If you decide home education is the right choice for your family, here are a few steps to follow.
- Write to the head teacher to let them know your plans to take your child out of school. Children must receive a full-time education from the age of 5, but it’s not a requirement to follow the national curriculum.
- Decide on the materials you want to use. No rules require you to teach exactly like the schools. You don’t have to teach the same subjects. Parents love the freedom! The district, at some point, will want to see proof that you are, in fact, educating your child to your child’s age, ability, and aptitude. Most likely, the local education authorities will ask to visit you, but you can opt to refuse a visit and send in a report instead.
- Try deschooling first. If your child had problems in school, such as bullying, a period of deschooling may be important. During this time, you can relax as a family, talk about goals and ambitions, and decide what education means and looks like for each member of your family.
The Ins and Outs of Homeschooling
As the trend continues to grow, more parents are starting to ask questions and wonder if it’s the right decision for their family. Here are some ins and outs of homeschooling in the UK.
- Parents don’t need a minimum level of education to home educate nor do they need any teaching qualifications.
- There is no set number of hours that you must educate. The law tells parents that a child needs a “full-time education,” but that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
- Many children sit their GCSEs around the age of 16, but that’s not a legal requirement. Your child can take them at any age.
- Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. Like anything in else, it’s what you make of it. The general costs include the GSCEs, books, fees for any groups you decide to join, computers, and other supplies. Some parents opt to bring in tutors, but that is, once again, a personal decision.
- Kids are still socialised! A common misconception of homeschooling is that the kids miss out on interaction, but any homeschooling family can tell you that their kids aren’t lacking. Between organised sports, lessons, and homeschooling groups, most kids create strong, lifelong friendships and socialise just as well as kids who are not homeschooled.
- Homeschooling takes place at home, but you can outsource as well. Many areas offer services and you can pay tutors to help your children with subjects you aren’t comfortable teaching.
- Home educated young adults are able to get a job after school just as easily as their school educated peers, especially if they take their GCSEs earlier. Homeschooling is rarely a reason why a young adult is unable to pick their choice of employment.
Pros and Cons of Home Education
If you are contemplating making the switch, taking a look at the pros and cons of home education may help you make a decision.
PROS of Home Educating
Control Over Your Child’s Education
You are able to decide what they study and you can adapt their education to suit their particular learning style.
More Time Spent with Your Child
When your child spends a large portion of their week in school, you miss a lot of time with them, especially if you or your spouse work different schedules. Homeschooling allows your family to maximise the amount of time you have together!
Homeschooling brings freedom to the family. You are able to take sick days, study what interests your child, and take interesting field trips that they will enjoy.
Create a Supportive Learning Environment
When your child is one of almost 30 kids, it’s hard for a teacher to give each child the individual attention necessary. Home education allows parents to create a supportive learning environment. Kids often get the most out of having one-on-one tutelage, even if there are multiple siblings! They still receive more direct learning.
CONS of Home Educating
It Requires Time
Teaching your child takes time. You will spend a few hours each day on education, plus you have to plan. However, most homeschooling parents find the planning part enjoyable! You have to be prepared to invest that time into your child.
Parents Must Juggle Both Roles
It can be hard for your child, if they attended school before, to learn how to distinguish your roles as an educator and parent. Both the parent and child will find the balance, but it does take time!
Homeschooling May Be Right for You
If you feel as if homeschooling is right for your family, take some time to talk to families in your area who do. Check to see if there are local support groups. The process is easy once you get started, and your children might benefit from home education! It is rising in the UK for good reasons, and families are thriving.