There are increasing numbers of families now choosing to home educate. I’m not surprised; schooling is becoming so deeply sullied by politics it’s losing sight of the children. Home educating is a great way of rectifying that.
I notice from the home education forums that the same concerns pop up again and again. So I rummaged around in my archives to help answer them.
Here are five common threads:
1) You’re afraid you wouldn’t know what to do learning wise.
2) You think you couldn’t teach them because kids need qualified teachers to learn anything.
3) You worry your kids will have no friends and be isolated.
4) You don’t know how you’d cope with the kids at home all the time.
5) You worry about the future.
Looking at those individually, here are some answers that may put your mind at rest.
1) Learning wise you easily find out what to do. Information and support is readily available.There are home school networks to tap into, both through forums and groups meets.You can find answers to just about anything online. Walk into any bookshop and there are masses of workbooks which support the National Curriculum, but children learn all the time from daily life activities. There are also distance learning organisations which have complete, tutor supported courses which can take a learner right through to an exam if you wish. Where once it was just the domain of schools, the internet makes learning available to all.
2) Very few people know this but qualified teachers don’t know all there is to know. They look it up too. Some of them are also poor at teaching what they know even though they’re qualified. Children don’t necessarily need qualified people to learn with. They need caring, supportive, encouraging people. And as many of us have experienced, not every teacher could be described as that. So you may do better at helping your child learn than their teacher does. And in our information rich society, your role is more to encourage your child to learn, enable their learning, than it is to ‘teach’ facts. Anyone can find out facts. Not everyone can inspire. Not even many ‘qualified’ teachers! And as schools are increasingly turning to ‘independent learning’ where children are using tablets and laptops in class there is less and less teacher interaction anyway.
3) The friends issue? We met many home educating families. There wasn’t an isolated or friendless child among them. Forums, websites, social networking, have expanded the home educating community. Schools do not have monopoly on friendships; they’re not necessarily the best place to form them either. Or build social skills. Children learn social skills from a high proportion of adults in an un-threatening climate. And no one need home school in isolation. We had so much interaction with others, both social and educational, that we sometimes had to stay at home just to get some work done!
4) Just because the kids are at home full time doesn’t mean you never get a minute without them. You manage it so you respect each others’ space. You time swap with others. You build in separate working times. You get out the house loads. (More education goes on out the house than in it, despite the myth you’re tied to the house!) And when you take away the conflict school sometimes causes you’ll grow a different relationship with your children. Despite myths surrounding home education, it tends to make them more independent and more able to occupy themselves without attention.
5) And finally; the future. Don’t you worry about their future in school? Everything always changes so rapidly. Nothing is guaranteed even when the children are in school. Opting to home educate doesn’t mean you do it for life. The best way to take care of the future is to make each day a good day with the children and all those days pieced together will make a good learning life. A good learning life will enable the children to enjoy education and make it part of their lives forever. As it should be. Education is for life, not just for schools. Home educating makes it even more so.