Norfolk Home Learning

        From small beginnings to great success

Home Education Q & A

Should I call it Home Education, Home Schooling - or what?

'Home Education' ('Home Ed' for short) sounds more British to me! Also, 'Homeschool' and 'Home Schooling' (with or without the gap between words) imply a more formal, schoolish approach, with timetabled lessons and that sort of thing. The term 'Home Education' is more inclusive.

A group photograph showing the range of home educating families
An infant taking his first steps in literacy

I say 'home' but my partner says 'school' ...

This can be a ticklish business!

Remind your partner that home education works wonders in the earliest years. It's fair to ask why school should ever intervene!

You and your partner may like to visit  No More School!, and see why other parents choose home ed. You could even talk to some of them and get their ideas at first hand. Joining Facebook home education groups could be a good start.

Is home ed expensive?

While you're helping your children to learn you can't earn money, and that can be a major problem!

Of course, you won't face the cost of the school commute and the ruinous cost of uniform. You'll also save by feeding yourself and your child(ren) together, rather than eating separately.

You'll want some outings so you'll still have to spend some money on travel, and you'll also need things like books and craft materials. At least you'll have your expenses under your own control.

A boy doing maths on a blackboard
A happy graduand on her big day

            Surely they need to take exams?

There's no compulsion to take exams but in this day and age it's probably wise.

With their wider horizons, home educating families tend to keep exams in proportion, so they often go in for fewer exams than schooled pupils do. (The Exam Trail explain how home schooling families make arrangements for their chosen exams.)

Many universities also keep exams in proportion and recognise home education as a qualification in itself. They may be as keen to take a home educated candidate with two A level passes as a schooled candidate with three.

The prestigious University of Leeds is one which reaches out to home educated candidates. 

Do I need to have a regular timetable?

No, don't set out to imitate the routines of school. That said, you may quickly find that your week takes shape with various regular outings and activities.

My resident grandson (now at college) had weekly music, French and Latin 'spots' at home, besides regular outside activities, so we do have a timetable pinned to the wall. Importantly, though, it grew as his home education grew. We didn't plan a timetable when we started out.

Do I need to set up a classroom?

A dedicated learning room could be useful, but the photo shows how easily a Shakespeare scene can be played out in a living room! In any case, the concept of a dedicated learning room runs counter to the ideal of learning through living.

Can my son go back to school at any time?

Yes, he can. Home education is the best option for many youngsters but just the same can be said about school. Children, families and schools all change!

Swapping between the two modes of education is not at all unusual and most home educated children do have a taste of school - perhaps in infancy before starting home ed or at sixth form level after home education up to that point. To leave school, have a year or two of home education and then go back to school again is perfectly possible.

Flexi-schooling is also a possibility - a bit of school and some home education running in tandem. Schools don't have to agree to this but quite a few do.

Are there any formalities to go through?

No, there aren't. Just be sure that your child comes off the roll of any existing school. Tell them in writing that you mean to home educate and keep a copy. Once you start home educating you answer to no one.

I'm no Einstein. How can I possibly teach my children?

Schooling often damages children's learning skills; maybe your own were damaged too. Set out on the learning adventure together! But don't be modest - you probably have at least one speciality that you can share. A tutor could fill any gaps that remain.

What about mixing with other home ed families?

There's a growing home ed community and most home educating families meet with one or two others on a friendly basis and possibly for lessons too.

Home education Facebook groups bring families together and share the news of what's going on.

They might club together to pay a tutor for a weekly lesson in something they're keen on or one of the parents might have a skill or knowledge to share. 

Some home ed families observe school holidays so their children can mix with friends from school.

Do we have to follow the National Curriculum?

Won't we get bored and run out of ideas?

No way! Like a private school, you're free of the National Curriculum and can follow your youngster's enthusiasms (with one or two of your own thrown in). Before you know it, this topic-based learning will be spreading its eager tentacles in all directions!

We can't all take a road trip round Britain (as one home educating family did) but we can all enjoy a day on the beach or exploring the woods, followed by some time at home to sort what we've found - unless we're trapped in a stuffy classroom!

Mother and children examining shells from the beach

The following pages may help you too ...

If you still have questions please get in touch and I'll try to give you a personal answer.

My postbag peaks at this time of year as the autumn term looms ever larger. I always reply but prioritise families in East Anglia.

Tony D Trigg​s

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