Tips provided by Greg Smith, Head of Operations at home education provider Oxford Home Schooling
When Covid-19 closed schools in the UK, millions of parents were suddenly faced with the unfamiliar world of homeschooling. While the new routine has certainly had its challenges, a new study has revealed that nearly a quarter of Brits (24%) are considering home-educating their children even after the pandemic is over. Here are five tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Notify your child’s school
You do not need to ask permission to home educate from either your child’s school or your local authority, but you must let the school know in writing about your decision. If you are removing your child from a special school, then you are also required to inform the local authority.
Some councils will provide guidance and free course materials. Occasionally they will also make informal enquiries to make sure your child is getting a sufficient education, so be ready to provide evidence such as work samples or reports.
2. Consider how long you’re planning on homeschooling
Some parents may want to trial homeschooling for a few months, or even a few years, before returning their child to mainstream education. If this is the case, you should definitely choose a provider or system that closely follows the national curriculum.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that parents have flexibility with the content they teach, but if there is any chance that the children will go back to school in the future, you should not deviate too much from the standard syllabus. This will make it easier for your child to readjust should they eventually decide to return to school.
3. Identify the best teaching style for your child
If your child is over five years old, you are legally obliged to provide a full-time education, but you can decide what that involves. Every child learns at their own pace and in their own way and the beauty of homeschooling is that you can cater your teaching to complement this.
Some homeschool students respond best to structured learning, with timetables and routines, while others will thrive in a less rigid environment. If you think the latter may be most suitable, allow your child to explore their interests and shape their learning around these. You may find that active or practical exercises are more productive than traditional textbook tasks.
4. Think about the logistics
It is important to consider who will be doing the majority of the homeschooling and whether they can realistically devote enough time to make it effective. The flexibility of home education means it is possible to do it while working full-time, but this is naturally a bit more challenging.
Consider sharing teaching responsibilities with your partner, a family member or someone else from the homeschooling community. Alternatively, you could homeschool on an evening or a weekend, or think about changing your work shifts.
5. Remember you won’t be alone
The latest research found that homeschooling in the UK has more than doubled in recent years. Virtually every local authority has seen large increases and there are now homeschooling communities all over the country that frequently meet up. These communities are always willing to welcome new members and answer questions, so before you commit to home education, check out your local group’s Facebook page.
People sometimes doubt whether homeschooled children develop social skills at the same rate as those in traditional education. However, in reality, they can often surpass their peers in this regard, as by attending local homeschooling events, students socialise with a wider age-range of children and this massively helps with confidence.