The prospect of starting home education can be daunting, and it can be tricky to know where to start, particularly if you are the only member of your family or friendship group to have pursued this avenue. The good news is that the system of starting home education is reasonably simple, and it is a smooth process to get started. There is a range of steps to take prior to beginning home education, to make sure you have ticked the boxes and informed the relevant authorities.
Making The Decision To Start Educating Your Child At Home
The first step in starting a home education programme is, of course, coming to the conclusion that home education is preferable. This may be caused by a range of factors, such as bullying at school, school anxiety, religious preference or simply a lifestyle choice. Making a choice to homeschool has a lot of ramifications and considerations, and it is crucial that you thoroughly research the requirements and implications before making the decision.
While homeschooling can provide benefits such as a flexible and free timetable, the chance to study different subjects in unique settings, and freedom from peer pressure and bullying, there are also trickier topics which will need to be considered. Home education requires huge commitments and sacrifices from parents, in terms of both time and money. At least one parent will need to be at home all the time to teach and work with the children, and this can result in some families having their income reduced to a single stream; it is essential to make sure you can live within this if you decide to go ahead. In addition, some people express concerns over the social life within home education While this is rapidly improving, there is still a risk that your child may miss out on critical social skills and the chance to work with and learn from peers.
The most important thing is to research your decision carefully and make sure you are fully informed and totally happy before deciding to go ahead.
Deregistration – How To Deregister Your Child
If your child is currently in traditional schooling the first step is to deregister. This is usually a fairly simple process, providing your child attends an ordinary state school – that is, any school not classed as a designated ‘Special Needs’ school. The first step is to send a letter to the Headteacher informing them of your decision to deregister your child from the school. They will then remove your child from the school register, and will also be required to contact the Local Authority, who in turn will contact you to ensure that you are providing an adequate education for your child. They will usually request a visit to discuss the ways in which you intend to home educate your child; this information can be provided in the form of a written report instead.
The whole process is entirely legal, and not at the discretion of either the Head or the Local Authority. There are only three grounds on which they can refuse to deregister your child. These are if:
- A School Attendance Order is currently in place
- An Educational Supervision order is currently in place
- The child is currently enrolled at a Special Needs School
Other than these exceptions, there is nothing to stop you from deregistering your child whenever you wish.
Creating a Learning Plan For Your Homeschooling
Once you have successfully deregistered your child from school, the next step is to plan a programme of learning suitable for their needs. This is where the flexibility of home education is a bonus; the UK does not require home educated children to follow the National Curriculum or even follow the same subjects as would be taught in a traditional school setting.
The best plan is to start by thinking about your end goals. If you would like your child to take and pass exams in the future, you will need to find out the requirements for these and come up with a free programme to ensure that your child has a chance to study everything which may be covered. There will be specific topics and subjects which must be included in order for your child to have a chance at success, and it is important to be aware of these in advance and allow time for learning.
If you have decided to go down the non-exam route, your learning plan can be far more flexible. Home education gives you the chance to take your time and work out the subjects and topics which most interest your child. You can start with a favourite topic to get you both used to homeschooling and decide to work from there. There are a range of textbooks and online resources available if you prefer a more structured plan, and these can offer valuable support if there are gaps in the parent’s knowledge.
Join A Community Of Homeschoolers
One advantage of the internet is its ability to bring people together, and this has proven hugely valuable for the home education community. Groups and events allow you to meet other homeschoolers, and this not only offers valuable social opportunities for your child, but it also provides parents with a much-needed support network. It can also prove a huge bonus in terms of skill swapping; if you are a Maths whizz with little time for History, perhaps you could tutor a friend’s child alongside your own when it comes to numeracy, and have a History buff return the favour. Building a network means that you increase your pool of resources, and this can be hugely useful for everyone involved.
Making the decision to home educate is a big choice and one which requires planning and research. The good news is that there is a tremendous amount of support available, and the steps to get started are relatively simple. With an ever-growing community of support available online and in person, there are plenty of resources to turn to for advice, and there is no need to worry about making the journey into homeschooling alone.