When we meet new home educating parents that have just started the process of teaching their children at home there are a few questions that regularly get asked. These include things like what about the social side of home education, how much does it cost and how many hours should we be home educating.
I thought I would address some of these questions here and hopefully help any parent who is either thinking about homeschooling or who has just started to home educate their children.
Do You Need Qualifications to Home Educate Your Child?
There is no requirement for the parent to have any qualifications to be able to home educate their child in the UK.
Is there any funding for Home Education in England?
There is no funding for home education in England which means parents are responsible for all costs relating to educating their child at home.
What is meant by Home Education?
In the England home education is officially called Elective Home Education (EHE). Home Education means that you as the parent take on full responsibility for the education of your child.
What is the Compulsory School Age in England?
In England the compulsory school age is the term after a child turns five years old and this also applies if you wish to home educate.
Socialisation Worries about Homeschooling
This question I always find rather amusing as it is usually asked by parents who have just started home educating when we meet at a social event put on for homeschoolers.
I know that social skills is an area of deep concern when it comes to homeschooling as people tend to think of an environment where social interaction is limited because of being at home with limited people and hence detrimental to the growth and development of the children. But this is not normally the case with homeschooling and there are many opportunities for socialisation.
Children who are in a school environment quite often show little genuine interest in topics of conversation and in many cases don’t know how to interact with people of various age groups. In contrast home educated children because of spending time with adults at home and then with various different age groups when at homeschool meet ups, classes or field trips are more aware and able to communicate with people of various age groups.
Also there are the normal opportunities available for socialisation that all children, whether at school or home, have such as Scouting or Guides, different sports clubs such as football or tennis and visits to parks and attractions all involve socialisation.
Home educated children are thus equipped with the necessary tools to face the world and be able to hold a conversation with their elders. The positive environment of homeschooling, whether at home or out with a group of homeschoolers, strengthens their self-esteem. Home educated children do turn out to be balanced and well rounded as they grow into adulthood because they have had the opportunities to interact with many different people of various ages.
The thing to remember though with regards to socialisation is that it does take more effort by the parent to provide the opportunities for our home educated children to socialise.
How Much Does it Cost to Home Educate?
This is always a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables when it comes to home education. One of the most important factors to take into consideration when home educating is the need for one parent to be at home, fully dedicated to providing an education to the children. This deprives the family of the potential of a second full time earning member.
There are a lot of free resources on the internet available but remember this still means that you will have to have internet access, a computer and a printer. The cost of textbooks and course material such as science equipment can also be surprisingly high.
The main thing to remember with regards to homeschooling is that the cost will depend on what you have available to home educate your children. Pick and choose which social events you attend, which textbooks and equipment are really needed. Think about checking out local and national Facebook groups where people sell books and equipment that they have finished with.
How Many Hours Should We Home Educate?
This question comes up a lot and not just by new homeschooler but seasoned home educators who are worried that they are not doing enough. Flexibility is of course the underlying principle of homeschooling. This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum choices but also to the number of hours.
In a lot of cases new homeschoolers feel that their children should be at their books the same number of hours that school do. In reality this is not the case.
If you think about the school system there is a lot of wasted time in a full day. At home your children are getting high quality one to one time which means that the time is more focused.
Early on in your homeschool work out a schedule that works for your family. A routine makes it easier for your children to learn and gives structure to the learning experience. If you have a routine or a schedule it tells your children that you are focused on their needs and allows them to know that a particular time is set aside for learning. This will allow your children to concentrate on their studies.
Home education does not just consist of time sitting in front of books and learning from printed material. Watching documentaries, field trips and visiting libraries also add an important part to the homeschooling process. You may want to concentrate on the book learning in a morning and dedicate the afternoons to these types of activities. Alternatively you can intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun.
Homeschool and Staying Connected with our Children
Wherever you turn today there is a barrage of information that we can pass on to our children. In the midst of all this knowledge we sometimes forget to just talk and relax with our children. A parent who doubles as a teacher we need to leave the teacher behind and simply be mum or dad for a few hours every day.
Remember to listen to your children. When you talk with your children, ask for their opinions. This will build their self- confidence. We want our children to be able to express their views in a rational manner and your children should have the confidence to be able to confide in you, the parent, regardless of the subject matter.
Be a parent first, and then a teacher.