Should I Home School My Kids? – Everything You Need To Know About Homeschooling in the UK
If you’re thinking about homeschooling but wondering if you should, we’ve put together a complete guide to homeschooling in the UK. We’ll answer questions like: should I home school my kids? How to home school? And look at the pros and cons of doing so.
What Is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is when a child or children are educated outside of the country’s mainstream school system. It can either be by a parent, relative, or tutor but it must provide a full-time education for all children over 5 years old.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, 60,544 children were homeschooled according to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. Counties in the South of England had more homeschooled children than in the North, with the most popular county for homeschooling being Kent. But is the right decision for your children? Should you home school your kids?
Can I Homeschool My Children In The UK?
You don’t need to be a qualified teacher to homeschool. The only legal requirement to homeschool in the UK is that you must provide your children with full-time education. You can set your own timetable, curriculum, and you can even choose to avoid exams.
Occasionally you may get a request from your council for evidence that your child is receiving proper full-time education at home. But these are informal requests that you can answer by supplying evidence of your child’s work.
Ofsted has said that “Home education is a legitimate parental choice and can be a positive decision when parents are well equipped to provide a good education.” So how do you make sure that you are providing a good education for your children at home?
Should I Home School My Kids?
Providing the right environment for a good education is a challenge for schools as much as it is for parents who decide to home school. You need to consider if you are, as Ofsted say, “well equipped to provide [it]”.
You need to take into account not only the added time, cost, and responsibility it gives to you as the parent, but you also need to consider if homeschooling is right for your child. If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN) you will need to take this into account in the curriculum you set. If your child is happiest and learns best in groups of children their own age, you also need to consider if homeschooling will help them reach their potential.
So the choice of homeschooling your children or not is entirely personal to both yours and your children’s situations. There are pros and cons of doing so, which depends on your family circumstances.
What Are The Pros of Homeschooling?
There are many benefits to homeschooling, which can help your lifestyle and your relationship with your children.
You can set your own hours, days, and terms if you’re homeschooling. That means you can take term-time holidays, and timetable on a schedule that works for you.
2. More time together
If you’re homeschooling and teaching your child full time you will naturally spend more time together. This can help to strengthen relationships but can also drive people apart. This can be useful if you or your child struggle with separation anxiety.
3. Curriculum Control
You are responsible for setting the curriculum for your children and so this gives you control over what your children are taught. Although you should aim to give your kids a holistic, well-balanced education covering all topics and subjects.
What Are The Cons of Homeschooling?
There are also disadvantages to homeschooling, which may mean that it isn’t the right option for you or your children.
There’s no funding available for homeschooling, which means all costs must be
covered by you. This may be a challenge as the homeschooling parent will struggle to have time to work as well.
2. Lack of socialisation
Usually homeschooled children spend less time around kids of their own age and
more time among adults. Some educational studies emphasise the importance of
social learning in child development.
Homeschooling your children involves a lot of work from you as a parent. You have to plan the curriculum, their lessons, their timetable, as well as provide the right resources and facilities for their learning.
How To Home School
If you are considering home schooling, and believe it is right for you and your children, there are a few things you need to consider before deciding to homeschool your kids.
1. Decide whether to home school full time or part-time
Your children still need a full-time education, but you can homeschool part-time,
meaning your child will be staying in school part-time too.
2. Write to their headteacher requesting to take them out of school
You need to write a request, which can be refused. Especially if it’s part time.
3. Decide on whether to follow the national curriculum
It isn’t a legal requirement in the UK for homeschooling parents to follow the national curriculum, but you must still provide full-time education for your children
4. Decide whether to give your children exams
Again, it isn’t a legal requirement in the UK for homeschooled children to sit exams, like SATs, GCSEs, and A levels. But consider the impact this will have if your children want to go on to university, where they will need to have exam grades.
5. Put A Timetable Together
Consider the aims of your lessons, factor in your child’s learning style, and plan your days together to make the most of the time that you have to learn. A routine can help you to stay organised but also add structure to your child’s education and learning.
4 Steps To Start Homeschooling
If you have decided that you want to homeschool your kids, then there are 4 things you should do to start to homeschool your children
1. Set a timetable
It may need constantly tweaking as your child develops and you learn about their
styles and behaviours
2. Get the right resources
Make sure you have all the resources you need, from paper and pencils to books and maths equipment and more. Also find educational resources on line that will help support your teaching
3. Be Flexible
As your child develops and learns, their needs and learning styles may change with them. Bear this in mind and adapt your plan to them as they grow.
4. Join A Support Group
There are online groups and meets ups of homeschooling parents, which will offer
you support, companionship, and advice. Homeschooling can feel lonely from time to time for both you and your children, so joining a support group will help.
The Best Free Home Schooling Resources, UK
Online resources and forums can help you to homeschool your kids, providing information, lesson, activities, and support. Here are our top 3 free homeschooling resources:
1. BBC Bitesize
We previously wrote about BBC Bitesize daily lessons during COVID lockdown, but
the educational website has a lot of resources for children of all ages
This is a resource used by schools all over the UK. There is a subscription plan, but Twinkl also have lots of free resources and printables.
3. Oxford Owl
With free ebooks and activities and games, Oxford Owl is perfect for quiet reading
and supplementing your lessons.