There are many reasons why a family may consider choosing to educate their children at home. In this guide, we explain what homeschooling is, discover why families might choose this education model, how to homeschool, and examine some of the main benefits and challenges. We also have a Q&A section at the bottom to cover some of the questions we regularly get asked on this topic.
The global education system had to quickly play catch-up on homeschool and what it entails, when the pandemic caused long term school closures. This opened the gates to alternative learning models, including online learning, hybrid learning and home education.
The Association of Directors of Chilren’s services suggests the number of home-schooled children in England rose by 38% in 2020. As many as 75,668 children were home education on 1st October, up from 54,656 a year earlier 
What is Homeschooling
Homeschooling is a learning model, in which parents and/or private tutors educate children at home instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school.
In the UK, Homeschooling experienced a mass movement in the 1970’s by an educational reformist, known as John Holt, whom resurfaced this educational program because he felt the ‘traditional’ education system was a form of oppression, and prepared pupils for compliant employee jobs. However, there are British texts dating back to the 1890’s, based on home education. The Royal Family have all in the past been educated at home, including Queen Elizabeth II, though more recently royalty have attended various public schools, including Wetherby School and Eton College.
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The different models of Homeschool Programmes
Homeschooling is often considered to be an educational programme delivered in the student’s home, by the student’s parents. However, the term is now commonly used to include any form of primary/secondary education that takes place outside of traditional schools. There are a number of different homeschooling programmes available which largely fall into one of two categories: distance learning, and personalised learning. Both of these programmes allow students to study from their homes, but there are differences in the way that each programme is delivered.
Distance learning – many parents will now be familiar with this style of homeschooling as it is currently being offered by schools across the globe, whilst lessons cannot take place on site. The school provides students with learning resources which include notes, reading lists, and recorded content. Contact time is usually low in these courses, and the students are expected to learn the majority of the content independently. Distance learning has been around long before schools started rolling out their programmes in March/April, and there are a number of well established programmes offered by various schools and universities worldwide.
Personalised learning - This is a programme delivered by an experienced team of educators, tailored to a student’s specific learning style, interests, and academic goals. Expert tutors deliver a bespoke curriculum which caters to the student’s strengths and weaknesses. These programmes have an established curriculum at their core (e.g. British – KS3, GCSE, A-Levels) and are adapted to the student’s interests to encourage curiosity and ensure the student is engaged. This is an evolution of the more traditional parent led homeschooling, which provides families and students with flexibility, and one-to-one attention, whilst ensuring lessons are delivered by subject experts.
Why do families choose to homeschool their children?
We have worked with many families who have chosen their education route and each one has a different reason for doing so. Whilst there is no typical profile of a homeschool pupil, listed below are a few of the common reasons that students choose personalised programmes:
- Flexible learning - not committed to term dates and school hours;
- Pursue a passion - becoming a professional sports play or performer;
- Health Reasons – when the school environment is a health challenge
- Cost – in some countries, school fees can be quite prohibitive
- Look beyond the curriculum
- Pupils might need additional support
More and more we are seeing families with young children wanting to reclaim some of their childhood with a more individualised approach and a fun and interactive way of learning in their own surroundings - No school runs, no time spent in lessons that are not relevant for them later on, and an opportunity to spark their curiosity in different ways.
Special Needs Education
It can be difficult for a child with additional needs within the school system. The school system is a catch-all for children, and it’s not designed for children with special educational needs (SEN).
While some are certainly better than others at accommodating SEN, most are not. Homeschooling may have a negative stigma attached, but this article by porch.com explains how this form of education can be an incredibly beneficial solution - Click here to read the article.
How to Homeschool
Firstly, parents need to decide how they want to teach, and who will be responsible for teaching their children (parent or tutor). It’s vitally important that someone is able to track their progress and academic abilities.
If you are located in the UK, it also important to decide on the homeschool structure; flexi-schooling or full time home education? It’s important to highlight that all children should be in “full time education”, but it is unclear how many hours that should be.
Fortunately, homeschooling gives you the flexibility to create a personalised framework that suits your child, and family schedule. You don’t have to stick to formal school times.
Whether you want to personally educate your child, or employ a private tutor, there is a wealth of resources available online. You can also research local tuition centres, make the most of your local library, or discover historical, cultural and scientific venues, such as museums and exhibitions.
What are the benefits of Homeschooling?
Flexibility - Families are free to set their own agenda; if your child is a morning bird then you can have completed most of the lessons in the peak concentration period but working with a teenager means they may be better suited to a later start time.
Personalised learning - For many it provides an opportunity to tailor the education to the child’s academic needs. If a child is struggling with a topic, in class they may get left behind, however, with home-schooling and one to one tuition, a helping hand is readily available. This enables children to progress at their own speed, meaning they can spend longer on some areas and speed through topics they grasp quickly.
We often hear our home-schooling students say they have learnt more in an hour of one to one time than a week in large school class!
Access news ways of learning - Home-schooling also gives children a chance to access learning in lots of different ways. A science lesson can take place outside or in a local museum, a geography lesson can take place on the beach. Children can be empowered to find their best learning style whether this is visual, kinaesthetic or oral; a home-schooling programme can be delivered in the way a child learns.
Confidence - A further, benefit is the confidence it can give your child. In a classroom setting, children can avoid answering questions but in a one-to-one setting, they can voice their opinions and discuss them freely. And for children who may feel uncomfortable or challenged by a question they will often surprise themselves by getting it right gaining confidence in the process.
What are the challenges of Homeschooling?
Home-tuition can essentially be a full time job. A great deal of time and resources need to be invested into your child's home-schooling. This can be very demanding on family life and therefore many families chose to have some tutor support.
Time management is key to making a success of home-schooling, with everyone having clear expectations of the time commitment involved to keep pace with the curriculum. Whilst keeping a strict routine can be a challenge, it is important, for there to be some sort of routine and structure and sometimes this can be hard to manage in a busy home.
Home-schooling can be tough sometimes, as can going to school, so children may require lots of encouragement and support to keep going when they are having a down day.
It is important to make sure that home-schoolers do not become isolated from their peer group and that they continue to develop their social skills. Parents need to make sure they still take part in sport or drama or other activities that encourage them to mix others. But beware of over-scheduling, just because the child is not in school it does not mean they haven’t got lots of academic activities to do!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Will there be issues later when it comes to getting my child into higher education?
Home-schooling is very normal in most parts of the world so universities are happy to accept home-schoolers and value the independent learning skills they bring to studying. In Dubai the KHDA recognise home-schooling, so there are no problems gaining admission to higher education institutes here.
Is it very expensive?
With rising school fees, home-schooling can become a cost-effective and affordable means of education, especially when you take into consideration other auxiliary costs. For a similar price, the educational value in home-schooling is more worthwhile as you are receiving a tailored, bespoke education which will be focussed solely on your child’s education journey.
Can my child still take public exams?
As long as they have covered the curriculum then it is no problem for home-schoolers to be entered as private candidates for school leaving exams such as IGCSE’s and A Levels. Many families choose to follow an accredited programme so that they can do this and also so that the children can re-enter the formal school system at a later date if they wish to.
How does homeschooling work?
There are many delivery methods for home schooling. Whilst some families chose to home-school their own child this takes a lot of dedication and is not something to be undertaken lightly. The more popular option is to join a tuition centre and receive home-schooling from trained tutors. The tutors come to your house and teach your child an agreed curriculum at agreed times, and set assignments which ensure your child receive the necessary specifications. These tutors are all trained and understand how to best tailor lessons to suit your child’s needs and wants and can be there to encourage them when the going gets tough!
Before setting out on the home-schooling journey, you should consider all the variables and factors involved. It is an incredibly personal decision and one which you need to make as a family. Whilst home-schooling is not always the correct choice for every child, for many, personalised learning can help them develop and grow.
If you are considering a personalised learning programme for your student, or would like to know more about the homeschool programmes available at Carfax Education, please email us today: email@example.com