Home schooling is growing in popularity. Numerous parents got used to teaching their children during the Coronavirus pandemic – and many found it a beneficial experience. So much so that the number of home-schooled pupils jumped by 34 per cent in 2021.
Yet, parents usually have many questions when they think about home schooling. How should they start? Are there any downsides? What about exams? We look at those questions and more in our guide to home schooling.
What Is Elective Home Education?
The official name for home schooling is ‘elective home education’ (EHE). The word ‘elective’ summarises everything: home schooling is a choice. Although there are legal hoops to jump through, every parent has the right to teach their child at home.
That’s because, ultimately, parents and carers take responsibility for their child’s education. UK law says that children must be in full-time education from age 5. Most children then finish mandatory education in the school year that they turn 16 once they’re past compulsory school age. These rules apply to both home schooling and traditional schools.
There are no government rules on the content of home education –they just say it must be efficient and suitable. This means that a child’s education must reach an appropriate level for their abilities. Unlike mainstream schools, home school teaching does not have to follow the national curriculum.
How Do I Start Home Schooling?
If you feel that home schooling is the right choice for you, there are a few ways to begin:
If your child isn’t yet five years old, you can start home schooling when they are old enough.
If your child is currently enrolled in a traditional school, you should write to the headteacher telling them that you plan to home school. They should confirm the choice and take the child off their register.
If your child has special educational needs, further permissions may apply – especially if they usually attend a special school.
There are other exceptions in certain circumstances – for example, if your child has a school attendance order, you might not be able to home school.
Once you begin home teaching, your local authority may make informal enquiries. These are home visits that make sure your child is getting a suitable education and that any special needs have been catered for.
Part-Time Home Education
Some children attend school part-time. This is called flexi-schooling and is an option for parents who may want their child to receive traditional teaching in some subjects. To get started, your child’s school must agree to flexi-teaching between both traditional and home education.
What Are the Benefits of Home Schooling?
There are various benefits to home schooling.
Home schooling lets you teach your children on your own terms. This might mean flexibility in the time of day you teach, or in the location. If students study best at a certain time, parents can plan around it.
One of the disadvantages of traditional classrooms is that the curriculum is very rigid. When home schooling, children have the chance to learn about things that really engage them – or that might be more useful to them personally, such as an additional language.
Home-schooled children don’t have to share learning resources. They’ll get personal attention from their teacher while also accessing high-quality online learning resources. As they get close teacher attention, students can often complete home school lessons quicker than traditional classes.
In some cases, children may respond better to learning at home. This can be for several reasons, such as social anxiety, nerves, or bullying. If that’s the case, home schooling can offer a safer and more protective environment for them to learn in.
Many home-schooled children take more trips than traditional students. They can supplement their learning by visiting museums, churches, or historical sites. In this way, home schooling can often give children more practical learning experiences.
Are There Disadvantages to Home Schooling?
As with most things, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
Home schooling is a significant time sacrifice for parents. In many cases, parents get additional help from tutors or online learning providers.
Many parents don’t have the formal qualifications of professional teachers. This is often overcome by parents carefully planning lessons or getting help.
Some people feel that home schooled children suffer from a lack of socialisation. In many cases, children should take other chances to meet friends like clubs and sports teams.
Home schooling involves extra costs, such as exam entry fees and books.
Overall, parents can reduce many of the possible disadvantages of home schooling with effort and careful planning.
What Curriculum Should I Use When Home Schooling?
The national school curriculum is inflexible. That can be a good and a bad thing. While it teaches children a broad range of subjects, it may also offer some less engaging topics. When home schooling, you are free to design your own curriculum.
You might choose to follow traditional school lessons and curriculum closely. This can be a good idea if you like structure or plan on your child taking standard exams. However, as long as your child receives a suitable education, the home school curriculum is yours to design.
How Do Home School Students Sit Exams?
When home schooling, you should arrange exams in advance. Your child doesn’t have to take standardised exams, but it’s usually a good idea for their future to get some formal qualifications. Children may be able to take exams at local schools and colleges with prior arrangement.
Many home schoolers also choose to take formal exams, such as GCSEs and A-Levels, through online learning partners. This saves both the stress of finding an exam centre and arranging course teaching materials.
Learning From Home
More parents than ever are choosing to home school. There are several benefits, but parents should take care to follow a quality curriculum and book exams early. In many cases, it’s beneficial to work with an online teaching provider. At Oxbridge, we offer internationally recognised qualifications with comprehensive course materials. Check our courses or contact us for more information.