Saturday, 11 July 2020

So you're thinking about home educating?

(This post includes affiliate links)

Hi friends.
As we approach the summer holidays I am getting word that many parents who have been doing lockdown schooling/distance learning at home with their children are considering taking the leap and opting out of the school system and home educating for real.  How exciting!  I thought I'd put together a little blog post to help parents with the decision making process of whether to choose full time home education or not as there is a good deal to consider before making the change.

The last three months have been a very strange time, parents have been plunged into a home schooling situation with no previous experience, time to read and research or organise resources.  I hugely admire the hard work you have all done with your children, it must have been a huge and unexpected challenge and one that I do not envy.  I spent many years reading and researching before embarking on home education but you have all done superbly with only a few days notice, it really is remarkable, even more so those parents who have been tying to work from home at the same time, phew!  I don't now how you have done it, home educating your children is a full time job!

Of course actual home education is a little different from what you all have been doing, so here are a couple of things to ponder:

Do you like spending time with your children?

When you opt to home educate you are opting to spend a large amount of your time with your children.  Home educating usually calls for some sort of personal sacrifice.  It is not possible to do an out-of-the-home Monday to Friday 9-5 job if you are home educating your children, (so it is likely you will have a drop in income as well) You will not have your children's teachers popping onto your laptop screen for hours of teaching each day, you will be their main teacher.  You may decide to send your children to some groups and private part time schools for part of the week, and do some online learning, but you will still be spending the bulk of your time with them so it is important that you enjoy their company most of the time.  There will of course be times when your children drive you insane, it's not going to be perfect all the time, but if you really find spending time with your children tedious then home education probably isn't for you.  It's a big commitment and not something you can always undo very easily, they may lose their place in their school and be behind on the school curriculum if you decide they should go back, remember that they will likely be with you when you need to pop to the shops, visit friends, and even to the Doctors!  These can all be learning experiences, but having your children with you does change the way you run errands and do your chores.
Educating your children though school makes life easier in so many ways, they are exposed to many different learning and social experiences through school and it is important that we fulfill these essential experiences through our home education.  Unlike lockdown schooling/distance learning, where we have been stuck in our homes not seeing anyone, you will have to take responsibility for providing opportunities for your children to interact socially. Of course there will be everyday interactions with other adults, at the library, the shops, church and the leisure centre for example and family get togethers, and you may continue sending your children to after school activities such as Scouts, sports groups and holiday clubs.  But you will also probably want to seek out other home educators and groups where your child can get to know other home educated children.

What will it be like to home educate when school aren't sending you all the lessons and resources?

Once you fully opt out of the school system you are on your own.  This is both wonderfully freeing and terrifying in equal measure!  The local authority do not offer much in the way of advice on where to go for resources (nothing you can't get from a Facebook group or knowledgeable home-ed parent anyway) or how to begin planning your own curriculum and schemes of work, there is no set curriculum you must follow, no targets set, no deadlines to meet. The world is your oyster, but when the options are endless we can become paralysed by choice. How will you approach home education now you are not constrained by the national curriculum? There are many theories of education that you can opt or buy into which range from buying a big box curriculum to un-schooling with no plans or curriculum at all. There are free curriculum, expensive curriculum, ones with testing, ones without, online plans, free websites and those with subscriptions.  It is worth having a good old think about how you will approach home education now that you are free. Here are a few popular approaches that you might consider:

Unschooling -
Charlotte Mason -
Semi-structured -
Classical -
Montessori -
Waldorf/Steiner -
Eclectic -

This is not an exhaustive list but will give you an idea of some of the ways other home educators approach their children's education.  I have tried to direct you to resources that do not require you to invest huge amounts of money on educating your children, as this simply isn't necessary.  A big box curriculum may make you feel secure and take away decision making but it is not essential to successful home schooling.

So there are a couple of aspects to consider in the next few weeks if you think home ed might be for you.  If you decide it is (and your child is registered with a school) then all you need to do is send your school a letter declaring your intention to home educate and requesting them to remove your child's name from the school roll.  That's it! Then you are free!  Over the next few weeks I will do some more posts on home education to help new home educators with the decision making and options.  In the mean time you might like to take a look at some of these books that could help you on your journey.  These include my affiliate links.

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