Essential guidelines for home education – even when schools open again

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Essential guidelines for home education - even when schools open again

When Covid-19 closed schools, many parents were suddenly faced with the daunting world of homeschooling.

While the new routine has certainly had its challenges, a new study has revealed that nearly a quarter of households are considering home-educating their children even after the pandemic is over.

Despite initial reservations, lots of families are taken in the challenge of providing a well-rounded education for children who have not been able to attend classes.

Greg Smith, head of operations at home education provider Oxford Home Schooling, has offered his top five tips on schooling at home.

1. Make sure you notify your child’s school

You do not need to ask permission to home educate from either your child’s school or your local authority, but you must let the school know in writing about your decision.

If you are removing your child from a special school, then you are also required to inform the local authority.

Some councils will provide guidance and free course materials. Occasionally they will also make informal enquiries to make sure your child is getting a sufficient education, so be ready to provide evidence such as work samples or reports.

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From toddlers prone to temper tantrums, to teenagers struggling to adapt to the abrupt closure of schools and separation from their friends – we’ve got it covered.

2. Consider how long you’re planning on homeschooling

Some parents may want to trial homeschooling for a few months, or even a few years, before returning their child to mainstream education. If this is the case, you should definitely choose a provider or system that closely follows the national curriculum.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that parents have flexibility with the content they teach, but if there is any chance that the children will go back to school in the future, you should not deviate too much from the standard syllabus. This will make it easier for your child to readjust should they eventually decide to return to school.

3. Identify the best teaching style for your child

If your child is over five years old, you are legally obliged to provide a full-time education, but you can decide what that involves. Every child learns at their own pace and in their own way and the beauty of homeschooling is that you can cater your teaching to complement this.

Some students respond best to structured learning, with timetables and routines, while others will thrive in a less rigid environment. If you think the latter may be most suitable, allow your child to explore their interests and shape their learning around these. You may find that active or practical exercises are more productive than traditional textbook tasks.

4. Think about the logistics

It is important to consider who will be doing the majority of the homeschooling and whether they can realistically devote enough time to make it effective. The flexibility of home education means it is possible to do it while working full-time, but this is naturally a bit more challenging. 

Consider sharing teaching responsibilities with a partner, a family member or someone else from the homeschooling community. Alternatively, you could homeschool on an evening or a weekend, or think about changing your work shifts.

5. Remember you won’t be alone

Latest research found that homeschooling in the UK has more than doubled in recent years. Virtually every local authority has seen large increases.

People sometimes doubt whether homeschooled children develop social skills at the same rate as those in traditional education.

However, in reality, they can often surpass their peers in this regard, as by attending local homeschooling events, students socialise with a wider age-range of children and this massively helps with confidence.

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