It may be a controversial subject for some, but following some groundwork on the subject I was pleasantly surprised to see the positive outcomes and why people choose to homeschool. However while there are some very good and valid reasons for homeschooling, it’s essential to ensure you are fully able and prepared to take on the task of homeschooling your child.
Recently my sister-in-law Jess, announced that she would be homeschooling her son, and on initally hearing this I didn’t fully understand why, and perhaps thought it even bonkers (mainly because I believe I would be incapable of doing it myself!) but the more I read about it, the more I realised why it can be a really positive move.
Her son turned 4 at the end of August so one of her main issues was that he would be so young within his school year. Having an end of August child myself I can understand her concerns, as I believe his age played a huge part in impacting my sons development and self confidence.
Following my sister-in-law’s research she put an argument to her husband as to why she believed she should homeschool their son.
- She said that less is more – early starters are more prone to stress or depression later in childhood years.
- 5yr old vs 7yr old starters. Early starters show no advantage over late starters, all equal within a few years and by 11yrs early starters show negative attitude to reading and poorer text comprehension.
- Especially true of late summer babies – almost a year (25% younger) behind their classmates. Can lead to children feeling pressured to perform to classmates standards, and disappointment when not achievable = low self-esteem.
- Playfulness strongly related to cognitive ability and emotional well-being.
- Children suffering from severe play deprivation suffer abnormalities in neurological development (Alex will have a year less playtime than others in his class). Also, a mature 5 is still considered too young for formal, structured learning according to many experts, as opposed to ministers who have no expertise in the field of education and yet impose school entry laws based purely on age and not individual situations.
“Late summer babies have odds stacked against them at school, which can continue into adulthood.” Says Jess. “So, the main reason I decided on home-schooling was the imposition of the school age (5) and that Alex, by law, must start formal schooling a few days after his 5th birthday. In addition to the evidence put forward from experts, I personally feel I can do a better job than the current education system (as it stands). I worry they will get lost in the class sizes and will be unable to identify their passions if they are not what is covered by the mainstream curriculum.
I’m prepared to hire tutors for subjects I’m not 100% confident with. From a selfish point of view, I’m looking forward to spending all the extra time with them, guiding them, watching them blossom and (hopefully) see their eyes light up when they discover a subject they love! Some work will be carried out sat at the table, pen to paper, but much of it will be learning whilst out and about, exploring environments conducive to learning. Example, we go to the aquarium and focus on their favourite fish, learn to spell it, where it came from (geography), its place in the food chain and its environment (biology etc).
Personally, I’d like to speak to more people who have made a success of it, because I naturally have reservations that it’s the right thing to do……”
As a parent I often wonder whether I make the right decisions for my children – quite normallly – especially my eldest son who has just been diagnosed with dyspraxia. He needs more attention and support at school. Will he get it? I doubt he will get what he really needs. It’s often a losing battle when it comes to requesting something that means additional funding. Which brings me back to homeschooling. Would he thrive better at home? A question that’s rattling around in my head at the moment…
There are many reasons why parents and carers make the decision to homeschool:
Being a victim of bullying
Learning difficulties – needs and requirements aren’t being met at school
Dissatisfied with the quality of current education / the curriculum
Disagreeing with the school system
Child career (i.e. athletics, acting etc) requiring a need to homeschool
To strengthen family bond and increase time together
Unable to get into a decent school near to home
To focus on strengths not weaknesses
To specialise in a certain area or to further their potential
Moved abroad and choose to home-school
Disruptive school environment situation
Unhappy at school
Whatever the reason might be, homeschooling is on the up and more families are turning to this option than ever before.
Recently I read about parents with two girls, one of which became bored and disinterested with school. She was almost seven and just a few weeks into the academic term. This was quite concerning for her parents as she was usually ‘brimming with excitement’ and ‘buzzing with curiosity’. To cut a long story short they decided to home-school, however they felt they got it wrong to start with (by following the curriculum) until they found their way, a way that worked for their children – which is the whole point isn’t it? Do what works for your child.
Having opened my eyes to the world of home-schooling I would like to think it could be an option if school isn’t going to be enough for my son to regain his confidence and learn in the way he needs. But right now for me and for many others home-schooling isn’t just about dropping it all and going for it, it’s about the practicalities of it being possible – both financially and physically. If there’s more than one child in the family then perhaps it’s worth considering how you would entertain any pre-school children while teaching the other. Alternatively how you think you would find teaching two, three or four children of different ages and stages at the same time.
There are many other considerations to bear in mind from motivation to sibling co-operation, from required knowledge to creative teaching, from what you think they should learn to what they want to learn, from child tantrums to the effect on family life. Plus, getting them to listen! All of these things and more are challenges that you may well come across and will need to find solutions to overcome them. But some may not take on home-schooling because the hurdles are too high or too many, depending on your situation and your child/children – all are unique.
There are lots of great resources and advice out there for parents and carers who are either considering the home-schooling method and for those already immersed into it and need extra support. Whether you’re following the curriculum or not, maths is a basic requirement in life, and Stuck on Homework offer online bite-size video lessons in Maths from Key Stage 3 up to and including A-level, which is a great resource for anyone in school or otherwise who wants to learn or improve their maths. To subscribe to SoH join here. I will be using this myself with my own son very soon!
If you’re really serious about your child learning computing, Stuck for Schools have just released a Computing CPD CD-ROM for Primary taught by Miles Berry with 60 instructional videos explaining the skills you’re teaching. This is specifically designed for teachers and schools so it depends on what you’re after if you’re home schooling. However the videos will be available on Stuck on Homework next year, which may be easier for you to digest, and more affordable if you’re a home-schooler.
If you’d like to read more about home-schooling netmums have some useful information and guidance together with links.
A Home Education is perfect for advice and covers most questions you might have about home education. An accurate and trustworthy reference. Educating Otherwise Education Otherwise is also a very useful information source.
Many parents choose to home-school so that it works better for their children, to enable them to flourish, to feel excited and motivated about learning perhaps in a way they were not able to at school – to regain or establish a love of learning. So what’s it to be? Home-schooling or conventional? Good luck with whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be the right choice.