Homeschooling has steadily been growing in popularity for parents in the United Kingdom.
This non-traditional approach to learning provides families with a flexible and positive experience that may otherwise not be available in traditional school settings.
Parents who homeschool their children have the unique opportunity to instil a particular perspective in their child or explore different activities that allow their children to engage in things they are passionate about.
With the coronavirus pandemic rampaging across the world, more families are considering the idea of homeschooling to keep their children safe from the virus. In this article, we covered everything you need to know to start homeschooling your child in the UK.
Homeschooling Laws in the UK
The UK government provides a certain level of freedom for parents who wish to homeschool their children. However, there are specific laws that they are required to follow. In Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, it is stated that parents who wish to homeschool their child must give education to “children of compulsory age.”
In UK law, all children at the age of five must start schooling, either in an educational establishment or at home. A child who is currently enrolled in a formal school must be pulled out before beginning homeschooling. The school does not have authority in denying a parent who wishes to homeschool their child full-time.
However, the law is different for families seeking “flexi-schooling” educational program. They must get approval from the school’s management, who can choose to deny the request.
Generally, parents are not required to contact their local authority when they begin homeschooling their children, but experts highly recommend it. Social workers may conduct home visits or schedule meetings with parents if they fail to notify officials about the child’s education status. They could also ask for evidence of homeschooling, such as homework or—in the case of an independent tutor—a formal verification.
Choosing what subjects to teach your children during homeschool is primarily dependent on where you live. There are several exam boards in the UK, each requiring slightly different GCSE or A-Level subjects. However, parents should remember that children who get their education at home are not required to take SATS.
Parents who have children with special educational needs enrolled in a special school have more things to consider. Before homeschooling, it is required to inform the local authority before the school can take the child’s name off their register. Additionally, the council must be contacted if the child has an education, health and care plan (ECHP).
Advantages of Homeschooling in the UK
- Freedom of Control
One of the benefits of homeschooling your child is having complete control over what you teach them. While the National Curriculum provides a systematic process of teaching, it is not effective for all children.
Focusing your children’s education around their interests helps them become more motivated about learning. Additionally, homeschooling allows parents to incorporate unique teaching techniques to stimulate a child’s mind and personality.
- Lack of Bullies and Peer Pressure
Bullying and peer pressure are two of the factors that negatively impact a child’s growth during their school days. The social aspect of in-person schooling is a double-edged sword. Bullies run rampant, and peer pressure forces children into activities they do not want to participate in.
These factors may lead kids to become individuals who have low self-esteem. It can also cause children to have difficulties interacting with other people or face a hard time learning lessons due to their negative thoughts and emotions.
With homeschooling, parents can protect their children from bad influences. Families can also introduce plenty of home education communities and groups filled with positive and friendly individuals. Signing your children up for these groups helps them socialise with people who understand and embrace that everyone is different.
- Focused Teaching
In a school setting, the number of students is frequently a hurdle teachers are forced to overcome. Having so many minds and personalities mingling in one classroom makes it difficult to find common ground.
When teaching children at home, parents can easily foster a learning environment that’s focused on their child’s interests. Parents or private tutors have more energy and time to help a child with their education if dozens of others do not constantly barrage them.
Homeschooling also allows educators to take into account each child’s learning ability. Some learn faster while others take their time. Being able to freely change the flow of the learning sessions can prevent children from being overwhelmed with information.
Additionally, children have much less distractions at home than in a school setting. You can even set a learning corner where you can place all of your children’s educational materials. This allows them to focus on developing their minds.
- More Family Time
Many parents who have children enrolled in schools have had little time to bond with their little ones. With homeschooling, families can have more time to connect with each other through activities.
Children who get their education at home are encouraged to enrol in camps or visit different institutions where they can learn more about the things they are interested in. Families with children interested in history can schedule a day to visit the local museum. This allows families to both enjoy and learn with their children.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling in the UK
- Time Constraints
Homeschooling your child will become a full-time job. Families who decide to follow a traditional schooling approach should expect to commit plenty of hours on making lesson plans and finding resources.
A traditional approach to schooling typically follows a schedule that begins as early as 8 AM and ends at 3 PM. Generally, the timetable would allow an hour’s break for lunch and 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon.
Parents who work full-time jobs outside their home may need to choose to have one staying at home to provide their child with a full-time education. Families that need two sources of income may explore the idea of working from home.
Families planning to homeschool their children full-time are more likely to struggle in keeping a regular eight-hour job. Typically, one parent has to step down from work and focus on becoming a full-time educator. This means families would have lesser available funds for their use, and lesser savings in the long run. Knowing whether your family’s lifestyle can function on mostly one parent’s income is paramount to homeschooling.
Additionally, teaching your child from home doesn’t come cheap. The local government also does not provide any financial assistance to homeschooled children. While some officials have proposed the idea, it is unclear whether they plan to implement it.
Having your child learn from home means you have the responsibility to provide them with their learning materials. From books to art supplies, the style of teaching also plays a factor. Later on, examinations may also become an issue. The costs of taking an exam can vary depending on where you live and when your child takes them.
- Parents’ Dual Personality
Having the opportunity to teach your children hands-on comes at a price: you are now expected to treat them as your student, which means you have to be prepared to put your foot down when your child becomes unruly.
Parents are responsible for ensuring their kids are always motivated to learn. Some students pulled out of a traditional school setting may have a hard time seeing their parents as teachers.
Children can also have very different personalities at school and home. This is also true for parents who homeschool their children. Taking on the role of their teacher is a big responsibility. It would be much better to research and prepare how to interact with your child before deciding to teach them at home.
- Knowing Teaching Content
Homeschooling forces parents to learn as they go, especially when teaching a subject they are not familiar with. This is often one of the hurdles parents must overcome to provide quality education. As you and your child progress further into the educational ladder, the subjects also become more complicated.
Parents must also take into account a child’s ability to understand a subject. For example, adults can tell the time with a simple glance at the clock. However, a kid who has difficulties with numbers could find it very challenging.
Language is another difficult point of education. Learning how to speak well is acquired through the many interactions a child makes with other people. Children who are not often given opportunities to socialise may have difficulties absorbing new words.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing to Homeschool
- Academic Flexibility
For most children enrolled in schools, following a traditional curriculum-based learning environment can be difficult. Each child has their own unique development pace. Knowing whether or not your kids are being given the right level of education is crucial.
Homeschooling is a unique style of teaching that enables parents to customise their child’s learning experience. Parents may expect to explore different teaching strategies before finding one that fits a child’s capacity to grasp varying concepts.
- Special Education
Children with disabilities or special needs may have a more challenging time adapting to a non-traditional approach to learning. Parents who find it difficult to homeschool their child may consider “flexi-schooling” or turning to establishments that provide sufficient support for children with sensory impairments or learning disabilities.
- Social Pressure
While homeschooling is done worldwide, it is still considered “out of the norm” for many. Children experiencing social anxiety may have difficulty learning in class due to constant interactions with other people.
However, social pressure can also affect children learning at home. Kids who enjoy having constant social interaction with other children may have trouble adjusting to at-home learning.
- Subject Expertise
Homeschooling is much more difficult when a parent has to teach something they know nothing about. Researching what resources are available to you is crucial in effective homeschooling.
While there are many resources and programs available online, parents must also consider whether they can grasp a subject enough to give their child quality education.
Homeschool in the UK for free
Unlike traditional school settings, homeschooling your child does not have to cost you anything. Giving your child education at home would remove plenty of bills you’d generally pay at school, including supplies, field trips, uniforms, and “miscellaneous” fees.
Here are some homeschooling ideas that you can do for free:
- Become a library member
Parents can visit their local library and get a card for free. The card would allow families to check out books about a wide variety of subjects without any charge. Some libraries also offer special programs, including arts and crafts activities and book reading events, to its community members.
- Use free home education resources.
There are many homeschooling and parenting sites online that offer free resources for all types of learning. Some institutions have also made smartphone applications where top educators from around the world teach subjects for free.
Some of the apps include:
1. Khan Academy
4. PBS Education
5. Google Earth
7. Art for Kids Hub
- Schedule field trips at local businesses
Some local businesses and establishments, such as the fire or police station, allow field trips. Taking children to real-life locations can pique their interests and provide them with first-hand education.
In police stations, officers may teach children how to perform emergency first aid. Firefighters can also teach kids what to do during a fire and react to natural calamities, like earthquakes and thunderstorms.
- Get audiobooks
Some online stores, such as Kindle, offer free books and audiobooks for children and educators. These online libraries carry a wide range of titles and subjects and ensure that there’s something for every child.
- Watch on YouTube
YouTube has loads of free videos made by educators or people who specialise in specific fields. Parents who have difficulties with math may turn to the streaming platform to help them cover the lessons their children need.
If you’re looking for reliable resources for your family’s homeschooling needs, we can provide you instant access to hundreds of materials to aid in your child’s schooling. Our resources encourage parents to take a holistic approach to education, which allows their children to thrive in their own environment and prepare for the big world.