Home schooling is not just for the excluded and the brainiacs, more parents are choosing to home school their children for a variety of reasons. Recent research indicates that around 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17. The BBC survey shows that was an increase of about 40% over a three-year period.
Why do parents choose home schooling?
Boredom: that doesn’t mean that the child is inattentive or even that the teachers aren’t good at their job. The most common reason for a child to be bored is that they are learning faster than the others in their class.
Few schools are able to offer the resources to meet the needs of particularly bright children and they often under-perform as a result. Home schooling allows the child to learn at their own pace.
Experiencing bullying: when a child doesn’t want to go to school because of being victimised by other students, one solution can be home schooling. Clearly it’s important to talk to the school and address the bullying issue, but sometimes it is better for the child to be home-schooled, to build their confidence and allow them to learn while feeling safe.
Health issues: if a child has health problems and is frequently absent from school, a home-schooling programme could offer a solution to filling the gaps in learning. This may be a temporary or permanent solution, but, providing the child is well enough to sit in front of a computer or at the table with books, it reduces the likelihood of falling behind with school work.
Mental health challenges: if your child suffers from depression, self-harming or other challenges associated with mental health, they may respond well to being home-schooled. It takes the pressure off, provides a safe environment and can boost the child’s confidence in their abilities.
Exclusion: children who are excluded from school are cut-off from the formal learning environment and, while the child may be singing ‘no more school’ with enthusiasm, it doesn’t bode well for their future if their education comes to a halt.
While there is no law that says a child must attend school, there is a legal requirement that they will receive an education.
In fact, some parents choose to take their children out of school and home-school them where they think there is a danger that their child may be excluded for poor attendance, or as a result of disruptive behaviour. These behaviours don’t necessarily indicate that a child doesn’t wish to learn, only that they don’t find the school environment a place where they want to learn. A different environment can make a big difference.
How can an unqualified teacher succeed?
Most parents who undertake home-schooling are not qualified teachers. Instead they enlist online learning programmes, internet tutors, local tutors, the local library as well as good old common sense.
Many home-schooled children learn from activity-based projects for science, natural history and biology. Some parents have gone so far as to take their children on extended travel to experience geography live. There are as many approaches as there are children.
The secret is having clear objectives and a plan with which the children are engaged.
It’s also good practice to advise your local education authority, to ensure your child doesn’t completely disappear off the educational radar.
Home schooling doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s not beyond most parents’ capabilities with a little creativity and a commitment to helping your child achieve at their best.