Memories of those first few months of the coronavirus pandemic will have you believe that home schooling is a parenting nightmare, not to be repeated.
But in truth, the number of parents who have decided to do it for the long-term are on the rise and some are seeing a huge improvement in their children’s learning. In November 2021 the Guardian reported that home schooling has increased by 34%, with almost half of elective home schoolers making the shift between the academic year of 2020 and 2021.
This week I spoke to a number of home schooling parents about their reasons for this choice. The practicalities and their day to day routines.
Michelle home schools her 13 year old daughter and 16 year old son. Michelle told me she’d always wanted to home school, but the true push came from the pandemic.
I spoke to other parents whose children tried school but didn’t take to the ridged routine and some whose children had never been and were never intending to go to school. The parents I spoke to all enjoyed the pace and rhythm of a life without school. Agreeing that removing the idea that children need to learn or achieve certain things by certain ages, removes a lot of pressure from them.
Children want to learn, especially about topics they’re interested and invested in. Providing them with the time to explore their passions and creativity in childhood, can lead them to gravitate to work or employment that has real meaning for them.
Michelle says that for her, one of the biggest advantages of elective home schooling has been being able to “personalise their learning experience and focus in more on their individual passions and potential. This is an aspect that can be lost in schools struggling with the rigidity of targets.”
She added: “We’ve found their recall to be much improved now they have a sense of autonomy within their learning environment. We’ve carefully explored their learning styles and adapted accordingly.”
Michelle notes that the stressors of consistent assessment is diluted now. And her children actually crave feedback and want to progress. “Providing critical feedback has been one of of the most valuable lessons for us and it starts with cultivating a sense of trust.”
Michelle explained that there have been time and financial implications to consider. “Home schooling requires a lot of preparation and adaptation, especially if your children are working towards exams. I have secured a job role around home schooling hours and I am interweaving their business studies with practical lessons, including of how to set up a business from the ground. They in turn, teach me about social networking and visual learning. It’s been really wonderful to have that sense of collaboration.”
“We have invested in official CGP resources, but Internet access has proven vital for us when it comes to exploring learning styles. YouTube, Oak National Academy, Senneca and BBC bitesize have all really helped along the way.”
Before researching this article I wasn’t aware that you don’t ever have to enrol your child in school. Or that you can unenroll them at any time, simply by writing to the school to inform them of your intention to home educate. They will notify your local authority and you do not need permission.
But there are some practical tips to note before making the decision to home school. Be prepared for the responsibility of your new role. Being in sole charge of your child’s education is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Connect to a network of people who also home school and can offer a lot of support, both practical and emotional. If your children are to sit exams, there is a set curriculum to follow depending on the exam board. Routine and planning are essential.
It’s not uncommon for home schooled children to exceed their peers come exam time. In 2011, the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science published data that showed structured home schooled children achieved higher standardized scores compared with children attending school. Suggesting that home school is not simply for the unacademic.
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