Home educating is completely legal in the UK – education is compulsory, but sending your child to school is not.
If your child is already at school but you’ve made the decision to home educate the first thing you need to do is write to the head teacher to let them know of your decision. Some schools are requiring you to fill in forms but others just ask for a letter. If your child isn’t at school you don’t need to do a thing. The best thing to do is find other home educators in your local area – generally FB is the best place to find them though many groups also have a presence on telegram now.
The brilliant thing about home educating is that you can explore what suits you, your family and your child best. It’s wise to remember that you do not have to recreate school at home. Educating comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re baking, for example, you have an opportunity to combine science, maths, life skills and bonding time.
For those coming out of school you may find it helpful to de-school both their child and themselves. Many children coming away from the education system need time to unwind and decompress. Some feel that for every year of school your child attended they’ll need a month of de-schooling. If you were also educated at school it will take time for you to adjust to – the best way to do this is by letting go of all beliefs or expectations you may have had and getting to know your child’s interests in a way the school system never can.
At school we’re often told our children are ‘behind’ – socially and/or academically. When they are learning at their own pace they can never ‘be behind’.
Remember that you’re trying to do it differently to school and bringing the classroom structure into the home can lead to challenges all round. Be kind to yourself – it’s not easy home educating but it’s incredibly rewarding. Read books with your child you haven’t read before – learning together is incredibly enjoyable. Remind yourself that there are many flaws with our current education system which is why you are doing this. Connect with others in your area. Help each other with lessons and childcare but most importantly have some fun with your children. That really is the best way they learn.
Here are some tips from our home educating members:
Don’t feel like you have to copy any style at all, children have a natural instinct to want to learn and if you follow their lead you will be surprised. Reading, writing and maths can be learnt in other ways then with pen and paper. Get baking and explain the science, add maths with the measurements. A game of darts can be a great way to learn adding and subtracting, cutting up a cake into fractions or learning to budget in a shop. Kids see the learning as relevant as it is applied to everyday life, therefore they enjoy it and tend to create less bad associations with learning. Read read read and read some more with your small ones! Road signs, street names, menus at restaurants, birthday cards, write letters to friends etc – all great opportunities to read and write together, make it apart of your life rather than forcing them to read mundane repetitive books, go at their own pace and don’t overwhelm them, this is a sure way to create book worms.
Remember this approach may see the child start to learn to read later than their mainstream peers, however lots of studies show the brain is better able to learn how to read after several biological functions have occurred which cannot be rushed by a well-meaning teacher. Focus on gross and fine motor skills well before advancing the child into reading, around age 7-9. You will be rewarded with a child that has a true love of reading.
Doodle learning is very good for learning Maths and English for the under 12s.
John Holt wrote many books on education and is well worth researching. Born in 1925, he was a critic of the American formal school system and a prominent homeschooling advocate in the late 1970s. He became disillusioned with formal schooling.
He argued that the traditional school system’s focus on rote learning—memorizing information through repetition—wasn’t beneficial and robbed children of critical thinking skills. He believed children, even at a young age, should learn to gain knowledge rather than regurgitating information to pass exams.
One of his books How Children Learn (1967) he emphasizes the benefits of homeschooling as opposed to formal schooling.
Another book that is very highly regarded is the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, an American writer, who spent two and a half years in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians. The experience demolished her Western preconceptions of how we should live and led her to a radically different view of what human nature really is. She offers a new understanding of how we have lost much of our natural well-being and shows us practical ways to regain it for our children and for ourselves
For those home educating in Suffolk
We are lucky enough to have an incredible resource based in rural Suffolk not too far from the coastal town of Aldeburgh.
This is a place which prepares children for a changing world by cultivating life skills, building resilence and connecting to nature.
They cater for all ages. Click onto their website for more information on this wonderful place for children to learn in. www.renaturing.co.uk
Resource links and Letter Templates
With so many people already home educating you never have to feel unsupported. Below are some great links you can use. Along with templates for deregistering and how to deal with unsupportive family members, Education Otherwise is a great website which has everything you need to know and more!
Children are born full of curiosity, eager to participate in the world. They learn as they live, with enthusiasm and joy.
Introducing the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings – especially babies – require the kind of instinctive nurturing as practiced by our ancient relatives.
Advice from a former home educator, interspersed with stories from her own family’s journey into alternative education.
John Holt is credited with launching today’s huge and still growing homeschooling movement. This book is his most direct and radical challenge to the educational status quo and a clarion to call parents to save their children from schools of all kinds.
In 2019, there were more than two million children being homeschooled. That number doubled during the pandemic and is now likely to continue increasing as more parents worry that school might not be the best place for their children to learn and grow.
John Holt died in 1985. He had written ten books, many of them destined to become acknowledged classic works in education. His work was translated into many languages.