A little while ago I posted some Instastories asking for your opinions, assumptions or questions on home education to answer or debunk the myths (like home ed kids not having friends, which apparently a lot of you think is true?!). I was quite surprised by some of the responses, mainly the assumptions because some of them were brutal and did get my back up a bit because they were from people who have had literally no experience with home education or home educated children and yeh, bothered me, not gunna lie. But fear not, here I am to answer all your burning questions and debunk assumptions about home ed kids!
“Do you have people come to check up on you?“
Yes and no. I say that because yes, there are people within the local education authority who are assigned to check in on families who home educate, these people are from the elective home education department who come round to have a look at your child’s work and to just have a chat about what you’ve been up to and your plans for your child’s education. This normally happens on an annual basis and our first visit was not until a good year into our home education journey. They sound a lot scarier than they are and the lady who came to see us was so helpful and lovely although she did admit she started out with quite a negative view of home education so I would imagine some of the families in her first visits didn’t think she was quite as lovely at first but she said the more families she’s met the more her views had changed and she is all for home educating when it’s for the right reasons. I say no too because you do have the power to refuse these visits if you wish to so whether you accept them or not is totally your call although we have and will remain to accept the visits.
“How do you deal with time management?“
Time management is something that you don’t really need to worry about that much if you’re lucky enough to be a stay at home parent. I work for myself and the work I do is mostly from home so although it sometimes feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day the time restraints of education at home are much looser than that of a child at school. Home ed doesn’t have to be 9 am – 3 pm, Monday to Friday, by all means, if that’s your jam then go for it, but generally, your time is there to do as you wish. Eloise doesn’t have set times where she must be working, and things are picked up as and when throughout the day so she may start her work at 9 am but then maybe we are going shopping or something so it’ll be picked back up a few hours later. We don’t have set “school holidays” either, I find everything just sort of blends and quite often we find we work through the official school holidays and she’s still busy soaking up whatever we are learning about right up until bedtime. In general they want your child to be learning for the 190 days a year and 18 hours a week like they advise schools to meet but generally, home ed kids are learning for more than that naturally. These are just recommendations, there is no law to say how many hours your child must be actively learning each week but it quickly adds up and I can confidently say we rack up a heck of a lot more hours than that. Children are constantly absorbing the world around them and it’s not just workbooks and maths equations at a desk that constitute as learning, food shopping, playing in the garden, a visit to the park, to family, anywhere, they all have an abundance of learning opportunities and it’s about grasping those natural sparks of interest your child has and nurturing them with everything you’ve got.
“How do you keep it fun for them?“
This one’s probably the easiest thing because you can do anything. You can tailor absolutely every aspect of learning to your child’s interests or needs. For example, Eloise is really into the Harry Potter series at the moment, I tailored a whole month worth of work to this theme. English I set her reading tasks as well as a project to create her very own issue of The Daily Prophet. In here she includes graphs of Quidditch results, articles about various goings-on in Hogwarts which ticks off both maths and English. Some potion-making concentrating on reactions like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and boom, you’ve got science. It’s so easy to inject fun into learning when you have no restraints.
“If someone wanted to start for themselves with their children, what would be your advice?”
If you want to home educate your kids then go for it. I would encourage anyone who wanted to give it a shot if their kids are happy to. I’m a firm believer in giving children a choice in it, while I will home educate Lily from the get-go for example, if she ever expressed to me that she wanted to give school a go then we would make that happen, same with Eloise; if she ever decided she wanted to go back then we would fully support her. So long as you are both happy to go down the route of home education then I would absolutely say go for it. It’s such a rewarding process, watching your child blossom at their own pace, watching them become surrounded by the passion to learn things that they want to learn about. It’s amazing, terrifying but wonderful all at the same time. My advice would be doing your own thing, don’t listen to criticisms because there probably will be some as most people don’t understand home education and so naturally shun it and it’s hard when people fill your head with doubts but you got this. Join Facebook groups, there are normally area focused ones as well as a nation or worldwide so definitely do some searching.
“Do you worry about not teaching them enough?”
Absolutely yes, but this is mainly because of other people and my anxiety. Realistically, as long as your child is progressing at the own pace in some way then you’re doing fab! I think a lot of people who are in the early weeks of home educating really do worry about how much they should be teaching them but there really isn’t any right answer. You don’t need to teach anything close to the topics schools teach and you definitely don’t need to follow the national curriculum if you don’t want to. There is no set amount every child should be learning because what is enough for one child may be too much or not enough for another, just go with the flow and follow your child’s lead and you won’t go far wrong.
“Is it time-consuming?”
100% yes. It is knackering and takes up a whole lot of headspace. Everything we do I’m scanning for learning opportunities as well as creating resources, planning topics, outings, clubs, etc. I sometimes have wobbles and find myself wondering why I don’t just send them to school because it’d be a whole lot easier for me but then I remember why we started this journey and how happy my kids are and that’s enough to drive me through!
“Do you plan on sending your kids to secondary school?”
The initial plan was to home educate Eloise until year 6 although she’s still reluctant to go back into the school system so this isn’t looking likely now which is fine! I was home educated during most of my high school years and it’s definitely doable. I went to college at 16 and for those wondering, because I know there will be people worrying about the impact of not having doing GCSEs or whatever (even though you can, you just have to pay for the exams if you don’t want to wait until college) but I left with a B and the rest A*’s. I was also able to do a GCSE course at 14 too which I also got all A*’s for and an A-Level course after I finished at ages 14-16 and got all A*’s then too.
“How do you tackle days when you cba?”
Pretty much how everyone else handles those days with kids and just get on with it, I mean we all have them whether we home educate or not, haha. Home education can happen anywhere at any time so we can have days where we sack off any written work and go and explore outside because children do not need a pencil in their hand to be learning something.
“I assume that the kids have no friends from not being at school with other children their age”
I got a few variations but this was the most brutal and also a bit of a steep assumption this and it did make me feel a bit annoyed reading it because people do tend to make these sort quite harsh assumptions on things they’ve never experienced. I feel kind of protective of the reputation of home educators and of the kids because we really do get some shit! To completely debunk this, most home ed kids definitely have friends! What people don’t realise though is that a lot of children who are home educated have had very damaging experiences in mainstream school. I was taken out of school midway through high school and didn’t have friends for a while because I was just so damaged from my time in school that I needed to be away from everyone and heal. I can’t say I had many friends at school near the end of my time there anyway because I just totally shut off from the world to cope.
There are so, so many opportunities for home educated children to mix with children of all ages from friends around the home to clubs, play dates, meets ups, home education groups, etc. Eloise attends freestyle dance at the moment and is soon to trial an acro club as well as piano lessons, they are both starting a forest school home education group soon and we are looking into sports groups for Lily. They have previously attended things like swimming clubs, ballet, rock climbing, crafts etc. We also go to home education meetups as well as meeting up with friends and family around our home. I will say that if you’re going to be relying on clubs and things to socialise then the cost could end up an issue as we all know activities for kids often come with a hefty price tag.
So there we have it, the first lot of questions answered and assumptions debunked! I hope you’ve found in interesting and if you’re one of the people who assumed home educated kids are isolated and friendless than I hope I’ve opened your eyes a bit! If you’re interested in learning a bit more about our home education style or have a look at some of our past home education timetables then I have a bunch of blog posts about that too as well as some topics plans and play ideas for younger children if you fancy a read of those!
Other helpful links if you’re thinking of home educating –
Home Education (GOV info)