These pages have basic information for those considering, or just starting home education. They answer frequently asked questions such as:
- Why home educate?
- How can parents teach all that a teacher can?
- What resources are available for home educating?
- How can we get in touch with other home educators?
The second home education information page has an overview of some of the various different styles which can be found in many families around the UK.
If you want to know how to get started from the legal point of view, see the page Getting started, and if you’re interested in articles from newspapers and magazines, see the home education in the media page.
Why home educate?
If your child likes going to school, and you are happy about all they are learning, then there is probably no reason to consider any alternative.
Unfortunately, many children are bored or frustrated in school, particularly with the number of tests that British children seem to have to take these days. Other children struggle – often in vain – to understand what they are taught. Still others simply don’t seem suited to a classroom environment. Not all children can – or should – sit still for lengthy periods, and some do not learn in structured, classroom environments.
No group of thirty or more children are going to learn in the same way at the same rate. This is why good schools have ability groups, and extra assistants within each classroom. But no matter how good the school, a teacher’s job is a difficult one. It is more so nowadays, with increased regulations and paperwork, and little time for individual attention to all the pupils.
Moreover, some sensitive children may be badly hurt by teasing or feeling incompetent in some way. Some, wanting to fit in with their peers, resort to drugs or rebellion in their teens. Truancy is a serious problem in the secondary years, with students having no interest in school taking days off, frequently dragged into trouble by others.
Considering home education
If you or your children are in any way dissatisfied with their schools, or if (as we did) you move away and are not impressed with what is available in your new district, consider the alternative – to educate them out of school.
If you have younger children who are not yet at school, ask yourself what school could offer that you couldn’t. Some parents decide that they will educate their children at home for the first few years (after all, many countries do not start any formal education until a child is seven or eight) and re-consider later on. You may want to visit local schools in your area, and ask as many questions as possible about their facilities and philosophies.
It is also a good idea to speak to parents with children at the schools, and – if possible – to some of the children who attend the schools. Take your child with you when you visit the schools, and see what his reaction is. Does the prospect of school seem exciting to him – perhaps because he has friends there already, and the classrooms look enjoyable – or daunting and scary?
A shy child will not be made braver by being forced into a group environment before he is ready. It is a strange (and untrue) myth that children can only learn to socialise well when they are in school. See my pages on socialising if you have any doubts about this aspect of home education.
Can parents teach all that a teacher can?
In their first five years you taught your children an entire language, introduced them to the world, to dozens of people, and probably read them several books. They have developed from helpless dependent babies into small people with minds of their own, who continually ask questions and have a great hunger for learning.
You may feel that you cannot answer all their questions, but nowadays schools have very little time for extra questions unrelated to the National Curriculum. As a parent, you may not have all the specialist knowledge of a trained teacher, but you have far more time to research, to go to the library, to ask friends, or to browse the Internet together. If your child wants to know about a particular country, or subject, then you can follow the interest together rather than being limited to a specific curriculum at a specific time.
There are many books about home education published in the USA, and an increasing number in the UK; for details of some of my favourites, see the home education books page.