While the pandemic forced many parents into homeschooling, many believe it to be the best option for their children, and between 2015 and 2018, homeschooling in the UK increased by 40 per cent so it’s definitely on the rise.
Parents choose to homeschool their children for a wide variety of reasons. From a lack of choice when it comes to good local schools, to religious reasons or disbelief in the education system, many parents believe they can provide a better quality education for their children from home.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to home schooling, from the process of removing your child from school to all the resources you’ll need to give them the best education possible.
If you think that home schooling might be the best option for your little one, we’ve put together a useful guide with some expert tips to help get you started.
Removing your child from school
If your child is already attending school, you’ll need to notify the school in the form of a letter to the Head Teacher requesting that their name be removed from the register.
The local authority may get in touch when they realise your child is no longer in school to find out how you plan to educate them, however, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure your child is educated while they are of compulsory school age.
Do I need any qualifications to homeschool my child?
This is a common concern for parents, but you don’t need any qualifications to homeschool your children. This is because delivering a lesson to around 30 children and having to follow the national curriculum is a lot more challenging than teaching your own children. As long as you have a good understanding of the topic you’re teaching so that you feel confident talking about it and teaching it to your children, that’s all that matters.
The most important thing is to suss out your child’s learning style. Do they like to learn by taking notes? Or do they prefer to be active in their learning style? The key is to experiment and get to know what works best for your child.
Join a home education group
Having a support system around you, especially when you’re new to homeschooling, is a great idea. You’ll be able to seek help and advice from more experienced homeschoolers who’ll be able to recommend good resources and materials.
It’s also nice for your kids to be able to have play dates with other home schooled children to make sure they can socialise with other kids.
LETS is a brilliant service where you can exchange goods and services with other homeschooling parents in your area.
Do I need to follow a curriculum?
You can choose to follow the national curriculum and your children can choose to take their GCSEs and even A-Levels. However, you don’t have to follow any sort of curriculum and essentially, you’re free to do whatever you like.
How to plan your day
Firstly plan how long your school day will be. We’ve popped an example below to give you some inspiration…
8:30am - 3pm with an hour for lunch (at around 12) plus a 15 minute break in the morning (at around 10am) and a 15 minute break in the afternoon (at around 2pm) with lessons in between.
Obviously, this is adaptable to your child’s attention span and if you take a trip out of the home for a little school trip, this can be factored in.
As well as having a timetable, you might want to structure each lesson by setting out the following:
What do you want to produce?
What resources will you use?
How long will the lesson take?
Helpful expert homeschooling ideas
Sonya Kumar, tutor for luxury domestic service recruitment and training specialist Polo & Tweed, offers her top tips to navigate the minefield that is home schooling.
If you can, designate a specific learning space. This is where lessons should take place every day. Make sure it is free from distractions such as toys and if possible, is not a thoroughfare.
Try to plan ahead as much as possible. Create a schedule, one week at a time.
The night before, ensure all the books you need are laid out on the table. The more you faff around, the more your child’s attention span will decrease.
Tackle the ‘heavier’ subjects first thing. Your children will be more focused immediately after a good breakfast. This meal in particular needs to be full of protein and good carbs that will burn off slowly. You will find that by the afternoon, lethargy will have set in. So best to plan fun activities after lunch.
The only exception to this scheduling rule is if the weather looks set to deteriorate during the day. Check the forecast first thing and if this is the case, schedule outdoor activity for straight after breakfast. If there are downpours all day long, do a Joe Wicks YouTube class together.
Although the afternoons will revolve around more informal learning, there are still fun things you can do that tie into the curriculum. Try arts and crafts activities that help with counting and fractions. For older children, you will be able to source a myriad of science experiments for them to follow on YouTube.
I often ask my older students to create a PowerPoint presentation of lessons they have learnt that week. It helps the content sink in much better – and will sharpen IT skills!
Don’t feel guilty about taking regular breaks. You need these as much as the children. If tempers start to fray, let them run around and release any pent up frustrations before resuming lessons.
Don’t be afraid to harness the power of technology. There are some brilliant homeschooling resources available online. BBC Bitesize is fantastic – and free. And Oxford Owl also has some sections you can access at no cost.
Finally, whatever happens, don’t be hard on yourself on the days when things don’t go to plan. It is a huge achievement teaching your child when you are not trained to do so. Once you have conquered a subject give yourself a big pat on the back and move onto the next one.
The library: for books, CDs, DVDs, reference material and computers if you don’t have one at home.
Your local council: They sometimes offer access to learning resources.
The Department for Education: you can access the National Curriculum and use it as a guide for your lessons if that’s what you’re looking to follow.
Museums: They’re a brilliant fun and educational day out for the whole family and you might even get a discount if you mention you’re a home educator.
The BBC: offers a huge range of video and radio resources from languages to A Levels which can all be accessed online.
Should I get a tutor?
While both you and your child may find homeschooling a breeze, you may find a certain subject is a bit challenging for the both of you, or you might just find that your child needs a bit more expert guidance during their lessons. If you think this might be the case, it might be a good idea to get yourself a professional tutor.
It could be that you only want a tutor for a few hours per week or a full-time tutor to homeschool your child, there are bound to be private tutors in your area who can help. Visit Teachers to Your Home to find a tutor near you and find out more about the topics they could help with and how much it might cost.
Keeping on top of progress
Although testing might not be for everyone, they’re a good way of seeing how your child is progressing. These can be informal tests at the end of each term or year where you do quick fire questions and record their scores or more formal tests depending on what you prefer. Be sure to track these scores in a document so you know exactly how they're developing.
Magnetic Weekly Planner Organiser
Whatever approach you take, it’s a good idea to timetable each day so you have a clear plan and structure of what you want to cover.
Having a dedicated area for learning is really important, so a desk for your child is a must.
It’s always handy to have a dictionary on hand for any English lessons.
Geography and history are both really important and interesting subjects and an atlas is an essential for this lesson.
Somewhere to store all their pens and pencils is a must.
If your child is just practising their handwriting, a set of good pens will make it much easier for them.
As your child gets older, they’ll need a complete maths set.
Lined exercise books will definitely come in handy for every lesson.
Understanding their way around a laptop is a really important skill to have, especially in this day and age. And it’s also a great place to store all their work to save paper.
Stay organised with some colourful folders to keep all their work in the right place.