“ Home schooling is legal, you don't have to follow the National Curriculum, nor does your child have to sit the Key Stage tests. What are your views? „
I get a lot of emails from people who are either going to be living and working in Italy (requiring residency) as expats, or who are Italian and are returning home to Italy from overseas and wish to continue home education once they get back. If you'd like some insight into why people look into home education as an alternative to conventional schooling, take a glance at this.
Bearing in mind that what you are looking at is the Italian Paradox.
One of the highest per student levels of investment.
One of the lowest teacher to student ratios.
One of the highest levels of numbers of ancillary staff to relive the teachers of time consuming mundane tasks and paperwork.
Unfortunately most of the money is spent on vast numbers of underworked, poorly trained teachers who go through a centralized, non merit based process in order to be employed, with little to no control either by the teacher, or the local schools, as to where they will be employed.
So if anybody is coming here and is interested in home education, here is a review of the process required to getting permission.
There is a great deal of misinformation about home education in Italy, on the internet, via friends and family, from people who have just been passing through the country temporarily and the school directors themselves.
Over here home education is vanishingly rare so finding your way through the quagmire can be heartstoppingly stressful.
Breathe easy. It is legal.
Hold your breath. Getting permission means diving into Dante's little known ring of hell, number 10, Never Ending Italian Bureaucracy.
Having been through the process in the dark myself I've laid it out as it happened to me. Italian bureaucracy happens TO you, forget an expectations about you being in charge of it. It should give you an idea of not only what documents you need (see links at end), who you need to talk to, and what sort of time scales you can be talking about.
I sent the Director the following.
A letter and a cover letter declaring our intent to home educate and declaring ourselves to be both technically and financially competent to do so.
Copies of the relevant laws as clarified by the Italian Ministry of Education and the specific clause in the Italian constitution upon which they are based.
More waiting, heard nothing, not a dickey bird.
Except the maths teacher let slip that she knew about my request when we commiserated about how awful the history/geography teacher was.
Waiting makes me stroppy. Got very dressed up and strode into the school office at drop off time. Asked if they knew what, if anything, was going on.
They made me write a written request for info (sans The Sock Dropper, interesting use of grammar in that letter LOL).
Bonded with the secretary by asking for help with my personal pronouns cos I had a nagging suspicion that the Director had gone from singular male to gaggle of females in a single paragraph. Left letter with office.
Teetered off to repent wearing high heels for the "I am taller than you" power grab when I had to go to the market immediately afterwards.
Got dressed up again and went back to the office.
Different (and very frosty) secretary informed me that my request had been forwarded to the regional headquarters of the educational ...something or other...and I would received notification of any decisions via the school within thirty days of my original request.
So that will be next week then, I thought. Goody.
Got a letter from the school.
Saying that the thirty days were passed and I was entitled to a response.
So their response was that they had not received a response, and they would respond once they had a response, upon which they would base their response.
Slight snarl escaped from my lips as this letter was registered, and I had spent an HOUR queuing in the post office to collect it.
It was also addressed to my son who had to be present so I could sign for it, so the lengthy wait felt a million times longer. Cos its sound track was a relentless refrain of "mummy can we go soon" in a high pitched whine.
Holidays approach, get twitchy.
Holidays arrive, twitch more.
Start thinking up plans of how to home educate AND socialize the child, whilst living on the run to escape truancy charges.
Explode all over The Italian sock Dropper and threaten to move to the UK with or without him. Generally melt down all over the floor.
The words "your bl**dy country.." may have lightly peppered the exchange of views.
Summer camp finished. Camouflage makeup for life on the run with workbooks perfected.
Ignore Sock Dropper's "let's just wait and see" suggestion and march into the school to get an appointment to see the director so I can shout at him a bit.
Director not there, secretary in charge of making appointments not there, told to ring back another (undefined) day.
Politely stomp off trying to smile. But fail.
Ring for appointment, get told they will call me back when appointment procured, told in no uncertain terms "don't call us, we'll call you"
Wait for a week on simmer. With occasional boil
Appointment TOMORROW !!!
Plan power dressing as form of hysterical displacement activity.
Spend all night coming up with pithy comments and ways of dramatically banging fist on desk in protest at the refusal to grant permission.
Do not sleep much.
Work self up into a right state.
Dream of being arrested.
Clatter of favorite (Matalan, purple, dead swish) high heels up school stairs sends sectaries shooting into side rooms as the noise is their personal red alarm system, heralding return of deeply annoying English woman whose gear stick is stuck in "complain".
Hang around in deserted corridor.
Director arrives. Looks confused at lack of females rushing to relieve him of coat. Remembers where own office is without secretarial guidance within minutes.
Go to meeting.
Director says, "yes you can do it" in the first fifteen seconds.
Wind leaves sails.
Adrenaline has hissy fit at not being allowed to work itself out of system.
Am impossible to live with the rest of the day (allegedly) until unused adrenaline works itself out in form of a big fat sobs which dry up when I realize it is time for Grey's Anatomy and instantly cheer up.
The End.. well of that bit. The beginning of all the rest of the journey was still to come.
The cover letter
http://tinyurl.com/34uqxf7 (scroll down)
(edited and xposted from personal blog)
I am completely rewriting this piece, so if others comments fail to make sense, that's my fault as the piece they commented on no longer exists.
I have to say I am also amazed at the strong views people hold on home education. Especially from people who don't home educate or really know much at all about it. So I've decided to write some of the reasons, methods and outcomes of home education.
Why home educate?
The reasons are as varied as the people who home educate. In other countries religious fundamentalism may be a factor for a significant percentage of home educators. In Britain and Ireland this is very rarely the case. Many if not most home educators here do so after some problem with the local schools, whether a child was bullied, excluded, or they simply felt the schools were failing to provide an adequate education. Many others have children with special needs and feel that rather then helping the children, the school used these difficulties as an excuse for the child not learning. Others have a completely different anti establishment philosophy which I don't really understand myself so am in no position to explain. Still others chose home education when rural schools were closed rather then having the children bussed long distances. Northern Ireland has the youngest school starting age in Europe with P1 starting in many cases only weeks after a child's fourth birthday, many families home educate for a few years only, simply to allow their child time to mature before entering school, and time to enjoy their childhood as well.
Why I home educate:
We started out home educating due to the early school starting age. I knew my son was not ready to pout in long hours at a desk when he was four, and expect he would have been labelled as ADHD as any other active child is here. Let me stress - he is very active - but he is not ADHD. He has a very good attention span, although he grows bored easily. His leaders for BB say he is always looking around and never seems to be paying attention, but if they ask him to repeat what they have said, he can do so word for word. I felt I could teach him at home without breaking his spirit or forcing him to sit still for too long. We have been known to practice maths facts on a trampoline - but we also take breaks whenever we need to. Also because home education is one on one - you don't need to put the same hours into it as a school does. In fact schools once taught more in 2 years than they now do in 12, and even among some American home schooling groups that do not believe in education before age 8, and very limited before 10, the children will have usually not only caught up, but surpassed their peers by age 12.
The hardest thing I ever did in home education was to pack up the phonics kit and put them away. My son was not ready to read at age 4, and I knew that pushing would do more harm than good. I am glad I waited. At 8 he can read at very nearly an adult level, and what's more - he enjoys books. Home education gives us the flexibility to do what is right for each individual child rather than an average child - and I don't have to be swayed by pressure from other parents. The fellow from our school board who visited admitted that local practice of drilling children with flash cards in nursery was harmful, but also explained the pressure schools were under. Everyone wants their child to read before their friends and relatives children, so if one school teaches reading at a more appropriate age, parents pull their children out of the school, the school loses teachers and may face closure.
Our original intention was only to home educate for a few years, but my son wants to continue. He is doing very well academically and has time to explore and learn about his own interests. The local school is brilliant for children with learning disabilities and has one of the best speech recovery programmes in the country. But it doesn't have much to offer average children and I really don't want him to have to sit in class trying to read "d-o-g" when he could be reading his dinosaur books or engaging fiction. One in four boys will leave the schools in this area literate. So 3 in 4 will not. He has already surpassed most of the teens we know in reading. Literacy is too important to me to take a chance with, but even among the boys who can read - I have never known one who ever read for pleasure. Reading was something they were forced to do - they regarded books as unpleasant. Of course if I could afford a good private school he could get a very good education in school - but I can't In short I feel I can provide him a vastly superior education at home, and still allow him more free time for things he wants to do.
What is home education like?
I highly doubt you could find two families who educate in the same way. Some are very strict and the children spend more hours a day in studies than they would in school, often pursuing a classical education with advanced maths, classical literature, ancient history and foreign languages from a very early age. Others practice unschooling which can range from just letting the child do anything they want and let them learn anything they want on their own to parents who spend vast amounts of time preparing educational materials and activities and letting the child choose which ones they want to participate in.
We fall somewhere in between. We have some structured activities, particularly maths and English. We often use work books for these subjects as well as computer programmes, toys and hands on activities. Science is a big game to us. My son does have to write findings up, but for the most part it is hands on and lots of fun. he also reads a lot about dinosaurs and palaeontology as well whatever his latest interests are. At the moment it is bugs and plants. We spend days finding, photographing, looking up and classifying insects. He has a carnivorous garden, a desert garden and we're developing a Mesozoic garden. his Dad teaches him guitar, and some times does building projects with him. He visits parks and museums. He enjoys history as well, but I usually let him choose which period to study. We do quite a lot on the first and second world wars, as well as Irish and British history. History is of special interest to me. Taught correctly it can help us to avoid past mistakes, encourage tolerance and allow us to see things from another persons perspective. But it can be used as weapon as well to transmit hate from one generation to the next. I strive to help my child learn in such a way that they learn to respect others, to see the other persons point of view.
We enjoy stories and traditions from other cultures, all sorts of science projects and so much more. We have a telescope, a microscope and several science and chemistry sets. The boys visit museums, parks, the seaside, wildlife areas, the aquarium, farm parks etc.. They can even learn with everyday activities, cooking, shopping and gardening. The world is out classroom, but when indoors - we do go through vast amounts of books. We spend hours everyday reading together. We also have a huge selection of educational toys. Sometimes it hard to tell when school is finished and play begins it just all blends together. At the moment my son is playing with a new toy - a compass with a Morse code book and light. A lovely veteran and an old army base/ museum taught them about Morse code last week. apparently he loves talking to children so we may make the wee base a regular stop. Nothing teaches children more than just chatting with older people.
We have a varied and detailed curriculum, and I do teach where I have to. Most of the time though I set up the environment and allow the children the joy of discovery. Teaching shouldn't be like preaching. They talk more than I do. A child learns more from asking questions than they do from a lecture. Most of all though we learn together. I often learn as much as the children do, and it is a shared experience.
What about socialisation?
This is the big concern for people who do not home educate, and most likely the least worrying aspect of home education for those of us who do. There are a few home educators who keep themselves to themselves, but most home educating children enjoy a wide variety of activities. My 8 Year son has karate twice a week, Boys brigade once a week, Sunday School and youth club. He wants to take up football as well, but we'll have to see if we can fit it in with the other activities. My youngest (age 4) is in BB and goes to Sunday school, but wasn't old enough for most of the activities this year. He will start karate, but most likely only once a week in the fall as well as youth club. He won't be able to join football here until age 8, but I feel younger children are probably better off with less activities to start off.
Both boys know all the children in the estate, as well as making friends at the caravan. Sadly there really isn't anyone his exact age in the estate but he plays with children who are a bit older or younger, as do most home educated children. My youngest is lucky to have a friend his own age only a few doors down.
But does home educating make the children different, and I'm afraid in some ways it does. The school they would attend has several issues with violence. If they went to school they would learn to fight - to be a bit harder. Many boys I know start drinking when not much older than my son, and he is likely to miss out on this for a few years. I'm also a very fussy mom where safety is concerned. When their is rioting or trouble, my boys aren't allowed out. In many ways I'm glad my sons miss out on this, but yes I do worry that they may be over protected - and I know my son feel hard done by when all the excitement of a riot is going on outside and he has to stay in. But that's life.
What do the children think?
Home education is their choice. Should they ever wish to attend an ordinary school - they will. I do hope we will be able to get them into a good a secondary school, and as long as academic selection continues I don't see any problems with that. But if not we may have to consider home education for secondary school as well.
Home education isn't something we do to children. It is something we do together. The choice is always theirs.
Education. Without it, opportunities are limited, with all that implies both for the future both of an individual as well as the economy of where they live. I do not think that there are very many people who disagree with the notion that a standard of education should be reached, with at least basic literacy, numeracy, and scientific understanding of how the world works being an absolute must. So important to the well being of both an individual as well as for the health of society that governements themselves typically have a body to oversee that educational opportunities are being given and that certain standards are at least aimed for. The main way this is met is through the setting up of institutions for the masses, known as schools, where the masses can go and have trained teachers share the knowledge.
This of course, is the easiest method of delivery, and to ensure that the basic standards are being reached for adequately, the state oversees these schools at a local level, checking that the standard of teaching is high enough that the knowledge is imparted adequately. That is the ideal of course, but therein lays a problem. It is the problem of "one size fits all". The truth is "one size will fit the most number of people more or less" is much closer to the truth. This of course means that while most will do well, some will find it too limiting, others too difficult. This is where private institutions and even state ran special schools often come into play. Those with certain disabilities or needs can go to the special schools if need be, and private schools can be paid for to challenge the child who needs it. But again, these are not options available to all, for special schools are far fewer, because the overall percentage of students who need them are less, and so, some get left out, or have to travel far away, and so on. And if they can get to one, all of the students with "special needs" are there, each with a different need; so again, a sort of one size type of thing comes into play, with many of the problems as before. As for fee based schools, this is fine should one be able to afford the fees, but this leaves many children out of reach, even with scholarships. Again, given they are for large groups of students of differing abilities and gifts, the one size issue still rears its head.
A longstanding alternative to institution based education has been home education. For centuries, families around the world employed tutors, governesses, and the like, or, if well educated themselves, often taught their own children. In the past, free state schools were admittedly either non existent or few and far between, or the child was being prepared to go to an elite prep school that was for older children, or even to gain the special skills needed to take over a family business empire or the reins of a country. This was not always the case, however, as many families continued to choose this method in order to tailor the education to their children's personal educational requirements, whether the child was needing extra help, or needed more advanced studies for his age compared to other children. Many modern families choose this option for these very reasons, as well as a host of other reasons.
For example, some find that their children are school refusers. The cause can be many; these children may simply reject the rigidity of the school day schedule and wish to express a sense of nonconformity, are bullied, suffer from depression, or simply feel frustration due to poor classroom environments. Other families may cite religious or philosophical reasons, such as feeling that their way of practicing their beliefs means that they should ensure that their God's Creation be taught across all of the curriculum, whether it is to learn the Biblical verses that apply when studying astronomical concepts, or the infinite wonder of Creation through maths, or devotional passages for literature, such as when studying the works of Coleridge. Religion is a very personal thing, so that how one feels they are called personally upon to practice it will differ from individual to individual even from within a certain faith or denomination, and from faith to faith. There is also the opposite side of the coin: people who do not wish religious ideals of any sort taught to their children, preferring to study religions as a comparative subject sociologically. Many state schools in the UK are run by churches, and while religious classes may be abstained from, it does not mean that assembly does not have a sermon, or prayer, that school plays and activities are not somehow religiously tied, and so on... Also, staff and pupils from these schools are often closely allied to the church that runs them, so even ordinary conversation may be at times religiously oriented in a manner that influences how the child's mind forms opinions.
Still other families choose home education because of family circumstances. It is not convenient to have a child at a school when the family must move about for work, or if one parent works "unsociable" hours. True, one could use a boarding school if one wished to and could afford it, but many families prefer to remain together, and choose to home educate in order to fit education around work hours, travel, and other obstacles. Indeed, we ourselves home educate, and this is part of the catalogue of reasons we do, as well as the philosophical aspect towards religions, and the fact that my two children need to be stretched a lot further educationally than most, suffering extreme boredom if not allowed to move on ahead once they master a concept or skill.
My husband works away all week, and is home only from the Friday night to the Sunday about lunchtime. Quite often he arrives home at a time where the children are preparing for bed, or if we are lucky, sitting down for the evening meal. He does have a mobile phone, and when he is not otherwise occupied, he will ring home several times a day for short conversations to find out how we are doing, what our day has been like, and to just connect with us and anything we may feel a need to talk about. This is important for children; knowing that Daddy is there to listen to their troubles, and share in their triumphs. Due to his work commitment, most of the free time he has to ring is during the first half of the day. This means that after typical school hours, bar a short call before bed, there would be no contact at all between the children and their father. Add in the fact that in his industry, it is not viable to offer holiday periods to all or most employees at the same time due to the nature of the work, and definitely not during public or school holidays for similar reasons, and you can see that a rigid time table spent elsewhere is not really conducive to our family maintaining a close relationship with each other with any kind of deep emotional and mental bond.
As for the need to be stretched educationally, this is an absolute must with my two. By this I do not mean they need to be pushed or hot housed. No, what I mean is, once they master a concept or skill, they need to be able to move ahead. My daughter actually did attend preschool and at age 4, went into reception. She developed severe eczema and developed severe stomach troubles due to extreme stress. The cause was extreme, deeply rooted frustration. Explain a concept once, and she got it. She went in already knowing how to read, and she read VERY well. While the other children were mastering Jolly Phonics and proud if they managed to read the latest Biff and Chip offering, she was bored to tears as back home, she was reading simple chapter books already, such as the Bobbsey Twin series. Telling the time was another source of frustration, she felt like banging her head on the table each time they went over the o'clocks, half past, and quarter pasts AGAIN and AGAIN off and on for three whole months. Science? Well, let me put it this way, at four, when studying the seasons, the teacher told the children that spring was when baby animals were usually born and leaves began to reappear on trees. She asked if anyone else could tell her anything about spring, and of course, children raised their hands and said things like, it gets warmer, and we get rain for the flowers, and so on. My child however, decided to share about how the earth travels around the sun, and how the earth is "divided in two" (hemispheres) and how that determines seasons. She also thoughtfully mentioned global warming and how it has affected how we experience seasons. Thank you Discovery Channel!
My son is the same. He suffered a stroke prenatally, and a lot of work was needed, so he had to be able to take his time when being introduced to things such as pencils and what not due to issues with grip, and also he tired quite easily. However, there was far from anything wrong with him cognitively, as his preschool teacher found out, during the single term he went before we moved house. "Why is the sky blue?" one child asked during a walk. "Because God made it that way" was the answer given. My son however told her it was actually because there is air and light. That air is made up of gases we cannot see, and that also there is water in the air that will come down later as rain. The sun shines through the gases and reflects off the water, making us see blue if it is nice, or grey if it is bad, and that at night, because the gases are otherwise transparent, and the sun is not there overhead to reflect its light, we can see the blackness of outer space.
I am not going to lie to you and say that given matters, my husband and I were not willing to afford our children the opportunity to advance to the best of their abilities, and given our then current status of not having any quality family togetherness time, we decided to change over to home education. Once we did, our daughter's stress levels decreased dramatically, and both she and our son happily forged ahead feeding his thirst for knowledge. We are, as with other UK home educators, overseen by a dedicated visiting representative from the county's educational department, and he has said that given our circumstances he feels we made the right choice. That is to say, the state has given official approval as to the correctness of our choice as compared to our other available options. Should circumstances change, the correct choice may also change, so that is something we keep in review as time passes.
Of course, with children being "at home", one may be concerned about social issues and learning to function in a group setting, or fitting into society. This would certainly be true if we lived in an isolated place, but even then there are ways around it. For example, home education via the radio is not an uncommon facet of life for children in the far reaches of the Australian Outback, and it has been so for many decades. These children grow up just fine, fitting in where they need to. The reason is actually quite simple. Even someone living in an isolated place has contact with others, for supplies, trade, etc, and the children form a friendly relationship with these people and if possible, their families. People like us who live in a town or village have it easier. There are many opportunities to join clubs, attend workshops (most are free or nearly so), visit local activity centres and pools, and also interact with neighbours and people in our greater neighbourhoods. My children do Scouts and Guides, so each week they go off with friends to attend the meeting, go to camps, and so on. Likewise, they know the children in our neighbourhood, and play together on a regular basis. They also are on friendly terms with many of the local shop staff, the postmistresses, the chemist, and even the elderly lady we always seem to meet who is always walking her Jack Russell! In fact, they count many people of different ages as being their friends, so whenever we go to a gathering, or to the park, they are not the children standing about thinking, "I am 8, I don't see anyone who looks 8, so I can't really play." No, they smile at the toddler on the swing and offer to give them a push, they ask the older child if they can join in on the monkey bars, or go ask that elderly lady at the Christmas party if she would like them to fetch another cup of tea for her, and then stand and have a nice chat. This is actually pretty typical of even the "shyest" home educated child.
In fact, Dr Paula Rothermel of Durham University conducted three years of research devoted to the study of children who were school educated, and those who were home educated. For three years, she followed 1,000 children, and what she found surprised many people. What she found was that while in schooled children, lower socio-economic status indicated a general decline in educational attainments, particularly in regards to literacy; with home educated children this was not true. Even children from households with few parental formal academic credentials and a lower socio-economic background but who were home educated, typically outperformed their schooled peers in literacy and maths, from as young as the age of 4 and continuing the trend right up to 11 (the age cap of her study sample). Also, she found the home educated children typically were more socially adept, in that in actual social settings, they were more at ease with a wider range of people such as one encounters outside of a school's closed environment, and so better able to function in any given situation requiring social skills.
This research echoed the findings of Alan Thomas, who conducted research on home educators living in Australia and in London. In addition, he noted something interesting about home educated children's personal character skills that relate to social behaviour: home educated children typically were able to admit errors, mistakes, and wrongs without resorting to defence mechanisms in order to save personal face. This is a skill that is directly linked to a healthy sense of personal self esteem, and is a good indicator of general well being, so it is an important benchmark to consider. It is also a skill that spills over into academics, as not feeling a loss of face also means that that the home educated children typically would ask for clarification or expansion on a subject if they did not understand it completely or to question an idea they disagreed with, without being aggressive or dismissive. Many other scholarly research studies and dissertations have been done on this subject, both here in the UK and abroad, and all say the same things: home education is a viable alternative to school, and produces children who are not only academically accomplished to the best of their personal abilities, but socially adept.
This is not to say that I think every family who wishes to home educate should. I personally think that there is a small minority out there who wish to do it for ideological reasons that are best avoided. These are admittedly rare, but I do feel that using schooling or education as a platform to pass on ideologies without any chance of an opposing viewpoint is wrong, whether it be a school or a home education environment. Germany and Holland's stance against home education is to prevent such cases, and it is admirable, but I do think a blanket ban is a bit of overkill. For example, take the recent case of the German family who fled to Tennessee, citing religious persecution. They were evangelicals, and the authorities refused to allow them to home educate solely for religious reasons, citing the fact that a leading evangelical happily sends his children to the state schools. Now, granted, there are many, many different evangelical churches, so what one person's faith might say may differ to another. Likewise how each person within those feels their personal relationship with said God calls for them to act. Because of this, many of the churches have their own evangelical schools, both actual buildings as well as correspondence schools. It is not said whether or not the family had wished to use a correspondence school method or not, but I suspect not. Even so, many of the materials these use can be ideologically and academically suspect.
I speak from the standpoint of someone who actually attended two such schools, which used two different evangelical curriculums. I was in high school, and I can tell you that in both cases, we were all, 1st grade to 12th, in a single room, desks facing the wall, in cubicles so we could neither gaze upon nor speak to another student at all except as permitted during break. Each subject was Bible based. One curriculum had this corker for science: dinosaurs are pretend and God put bones in the ground as a joke. The other curriculum had this to say: The earth is only 2000 years old. Dinosaurs were real but only around a short while and existed at the same time as people. Indeed, in the USA, there is even a "science museum" that explains this very "fact" and has dioramas to share the "scientific truth as revealed by God" to the masses. Given that we were sat in a closed environment with only these materials, and a constant running dialogue about how the minions of Satan are out there to lie to us and try to disprove God, I am going to come out and say it. This was brainwashing. The academic subjects were being taught alright, but in such a manner as to support one group's ideology. This is wrong, whether it is a school, or a family wishing to sequester children and indoctrinate them. I don't care if the indoctrination is religious, such as the German family and those schools apparently wished to pursue, or political, such as families who are members of the BNP or KKK. Such things should not be permitted to masquerade as academic truth, full stop.
I do believe, however, that such a small minority should not be confused with the greater population. Just as most religious based schools do not apply such methods, neither do the vast majority of home educators, regardless of where in the world they live, despite the large press given to evangelical homeschoolers. Most are simply families wishing to exercise a choice in order to provide an educational opportunity that suits their child and the needs of the family. I believe that access to a suitable education is a basic human right, as is the right to family life, and as such, the choice should be open.
I am a parent (ok no duuh to that one really) but what some people don't know is that we have 5 children, and only 3 are in main stream public schools.
Our option to Home educate came out of necessity. The summer we were due to move home our 2 youngest children were in the transition from infant primary to junior primary, and as is the way with our local authority, all junior school places were assigned by mid June - and no one but SERCO knew if they had placements for the children that september.
Now, we were left with a tough decision. One of the middle 2 children has educational and behavioural issues, and as such a swift transition into a new school was a absolute must. However, there was no guarantees at all we could get placements for the youngest 2 at the same school. The next nearest junior school was 3 miles away with our new house in-between the 2 schools!
We were also faced with the fact placements may not have been found till at least December, forcing us into a state of 'home education' for at least 3 months.
Well I am a firm believer in if a jobs worth doing, its worth doing well. So after some extensive research and questioning of some well rated Home Educators we chose to deregister the youngest 2 a month prior to our home move.
Now unlike a lot of home educators, we did have a view of doing home education for at least 1 year, and each year we review the situation and how we feel the girls are progressing. We have a firm grounding in the core - literacy and numeracy - basically covered with workbooks and a whole spiral course divided up into American style 'semester' grade system. The course has been validated and approved by many countries.
Our Home Education officer visits once a year but quite often we talk on a monthly basis. WE go to cubs, scouts, HE meets, tours, educational facilities....
I've even had the nerve to challenge the schools on many occasions on their handling of my other children's education. And my teaching doesn't stop at 4 o'clock when my 'schoolies' come home. I then have to for 2 hours a night re do what they did at school, explaining not just how things are done, but WHY things are done. While my little He'd ones are happily playing monopoly on the dinner table I have 3 children having a whole extra school day packed into 2 hours just so they can understand in context what they are supposed to be doing!
Add on to the fact I have been on 20 "school trips" in the last 3 months with my HE'd to the total cost (including travel and food) coming to less than £200, I told the school about free cinema tickets they did not even look at, I have had to shell out £90 per schooled child in 2 trips since September.
My children relish the 1 on 2 time we spend on their education. Yes occasionally they say they would like school, but that's because one of them specifically thinks it will get them out of 10 minutes daily hand writing exercises!
HE relies on many things. It relies on the child's thirst for knowledge and the parents ability to involve themselves.
With the current fall in standards in exams and schools drive for SAT scores, pushy teachers expecting parents to collect tokens from higher priced foods & goods to pay for equipment that should have been covered with funding took out in tax from every working parents pocket, a de-christianised school system which still pushes Christianity.
Personally, before you think of abolishing HE, maybe you should look at shaking up the British school system, maybe even align it with our American or even Japanese counterparts. They may have their issues, but right now they are heads and shoulders and a huge ladder above our schools.
I am the mum in a home-educating family, and I have been for just over 6 years. My home-educating adventure began when my youngest son (now 11) was bullied (for want of a better word) in his primary school. He was so young, just 4/5 years old, and it was heartbreaking to see my child change so dramatically. He went from being a happy-go-lucky, confident, always smiling sort of boy, who was the first in the classroom every morning eager to learn - to being incredibly withdrawn, hardly talking to anyone, lacking in self-confidence and with such a sadness in his eyes. At the time he wore glasses and had an eye patch for a lazy eye treatment, and he was receiving speech therapy for speech dyspraxia - thus making him an easy target for the "bullies".
I tried talking to the teachers, and I had numerous appointments with the head mistress of the school where I tried to discuss my concerns. All had noticed a change in his personality, they mentioned how he didn't seem to be so happy and he had gone so quiet in class, but no-one would admit to there being a problem. The teachers were handing over broken glasses to me 2, 3, sometimes 4 times a week, but not questioning how or why it was happening. It didn't make sense to me, and I was exasperated. It got to the point that my son was actually being physically sick on the way to school - enough was enough - he was only just 5 years old.
I started looking elsewhere for help. I spent hours on the internet searching for "Bullying" and "School Phobia", and Education Otherwise, which is one of the charities set up to support home-educators, kept appearing at the top of the searches. At the time I didn't know that it was a legal option. I thought that all children had to go to school. I didn't know anyone that home-educated, and it seemed such a huge responsibility to take on. After a great deal of research (and a few more trips to the Opticians to repair broken glasses), I (with my husband) made the decision to de-register my son from school. Initially it was a temporary solution. The plan was to home-educate for a few months and re-build the confidence that my son had lost. However, it worked so well for us. It fitted in with our lifestyle, and we noticed a change in our son (for the better) within weeks. We decided to de-register our daughter (then aged 7) and teach her at home as well. Not for the same dramatic reasons as her brother, she certainly wasn't bullied, but we had a few niggles about the system that we had previously tried to ignore. Knowing that we had another option open to us, we didn't have to ignore them any longer.
Home-education works very well for us. We are now a very close family unit, and I feel that the relationship I have with my children is a lot closer than it would be if the children were out at school all day. When we first started out on our home-ed lifestyle, my husband worked nights. With the children at school, they hardly ever saw their dad. Out of school, they could spend far more time with him, which has benefitted us all. I'm NOT anti-school by any stretch of the imagination. I am well aware that many children absolutely thrive in the school system, and I have always made it clear to my lot that if they ever wanted to go to school I wouldn't try to persuade them otherwise. But, school doesn't suit everyone - just as home-education wouldn't. We should be allowed, without criticism or judgement, to choose what we feel is best for our own families.
When the children first came out of school, we tried the structured, timetabled, "school at home" approach. I wanted to make sure that we fully covered everything they would be taught in school. I got upset and frustrated when our days didn't go to plan, and it wasn't long before I realised (or maybe admitted to myself) that playing at schools wasn't going to work for us. I started to relax. I did a lot of research into how children learn, different learning styles, and different ways of home-educating. I realised that we didn't have to sit at a table from 9am-3pm, reading and writing, for my children to learn things. Instead, they learn in many ways - discussions, from books, the internet, television, places we visit, people we talk to, the clubs and associations we belong to - to coin a home-ed phrase - the world is our classroom.
I now have 4 children. They are aged 13, 11, 7 and 4. The youngest two have never stepped foot in a school. The 7 year old is a huge reader, ravishing book after book. Her favourite author at the moment is Enid Blyton and I'm amazed at her reading ability. I've never ever sat with her and "taught" her to read. She naturally started to read as she wanted to. We don't own the reading schemes used in schools, or do worksheets explaining phonics or any other method that might be the latest "thing". My 4 year old is following suit. They have been surrounded by books (our house could be the villages second library!) We have had family reading time most days, where I will sit and read a chapter of a book aloud as the children listen - and then the children will read aloud any book of their choice if they want to. I don't force them, I find that my children learn far more if they are able to follow their own interests. This doesn't mean that I let them play on the Playstation all day, or chat to their friends on MSN for hours on end, but rather that I facilitate their learning. We discuss what projects they want to do, and I do my utmost to come up with interesting ways to study their chosen subject. Currently we are just starting a family project on "The Earth", an interest that was sparked by an Usborne Geography book that I picked up cheaply from a charity shop. Our projects are cross-curricular, encompassing lots of subjects. I envisage lots of related crafts, experiments, as well as the necessary reading and writing. The resulting project will be shown on our home-ed blog at http://classroomfree.blogspot.com.
We often find ourselves the "talk of the town" when out and about. Very often we are stopped and questioned about the children not being at school - and reactions to the home-educated response are mixed. Some people are curious, asking lots of questions and being quite positive about it. Others are very negative, and tell us how they find it disgusting that we are allowed to do it, and how I'm ruining my children's future lives because of it.
**FAQ's about home-education**
These are the questions that we are asked the most when out and about :o)
Q. Do you have to be a teacher?
A. No, you don't have to have any teaching qualifications at all to take responsibility for the education of your own children.
Q. Do you have to follow the National Curriculum?
A. No, you don't have to follow any set curriculum. There are no guidelines of what you must teach. Some prefer to follow a curriculum, whilst others are child-led and follow the childrens interests. There are many ways of home-educating and deciding what and how to learn is often the trickiest part.
Q. Are you checked by Ofsted?
A. No. We personally have an Education officer visit us once a year. Not all home-educators do though. You don't have to accept visits as the law stands at the moment. You can "prove" that you are meeting the legal requirements for providing a suitable education by written means, for example an educational philosophy, or examples of work etc. Some home-educators aren't known to the relevant authorities.
Q. Is it expensive to teach your children at home?
A. It is as expensive as you make it :o) You don't "need" anything special - a computer is always useful, the internet is a wonderful learning tool. But local libraries are a huge source of learning materials, and are free to join. We spend some money each year on joining organisations such as The National Trust, English Heritage and the Devon Wildlife Trust, as we believe these offer a great deal of educational value. The children partake in "out of school" activities such as Brownies, so there are the usual costs there. But it isn't expensive to Home-Educate, anyone can do it. One thing to bear in mind though, is that it usually means that one parent is at home and not in the workplace. This can of course mean a lack of salary - but there are many families that work around this with part time hours or working from home.
Q. Will your children be able to socialise? How will they make friends?
A. This question always makes me laugh, although it frustrates me a little too. Contrary to belief - we don't lock our children under the stairs away from the outside world. Is socialising just done in school? No of course not. Home-educated children go to the same clubs and groups as school-children, play in the same parks, are part of the same football team or dance troop. Not being in a classroom all day is not going to stop them building the necessary social skills. Then there are home-ed groups. There are many groups across the country (well, the world of course, but for the purpose of this review I'll concentrate on the UK). Some are just social get-togethers, where the children meet up and play whilst the adults chat and share advice or experiences. Other groups have activities on offer - maybe art or crafts, science experiments, or music. At our group for example we have done copper beating, drama, keyboard playing, first aid training, animal handling, visited various places including the aquarium, a bird conservation trust, and historic houses, and much more. Being taught at home doesn't mean living in isolation.
Q. What about exams?
A. There are many different ways that home-educated children can enter the exam system. In some areas, there are opportunities for them to take an exam as an outside candidate, or there are studying opportunities such as the Open University or at Night School for example. If a child wants to take exams, there are often ways of doing so, however, exams shouldn't be thought of as the be all and end all. Very often college places have been offered through other ways such as a portfolio of work and sitting an entrance exam. Home-educated children are often seen as self-motivated learners, which are much sought after by higher education providers.
Of course, the home-educator lifestyle isn't always rosy. As a mother of 4, I rarely have time to myself, and many people have commented how they couldn't cope with having the children around almost 24/7. I was one of those mums that missed my children and relished the time with them in the 6 weeks holidays, whilst other mums were counting down the days until the schools reopened :o) I learnt a long time ago that my house was never going to be as clean and tidy as I would like it to be (although admittedly, my 3 year old springer spaniel has a lot to do with that!) but it's a sacrifice that I'm willing to make.
To see my children so happy, thriving in this environment, with a real thirst for learning, and so close to each other - as friends - as well as siblings, answers all the doubts that I could ever have.
And my eldest son? The child I have to blame for putting us in this situation *grin* - well he is one happy boy now! His speech is more or less normal, his speech therapist has said many times how the home-education has been a huge aid in his progress. Receiving so much one-to-one time from me is something that would never have happened if we were working around school hours - and I am so proud of him and all he has overcome. He still talks about his time at school, but not with so much anger now.
I could go on and on about home-education and all it means to me, but after 2,000 words I'm sure I'm boring you all to tears so I will stop there and thank you for reading.
For those that are interested in finding out more, there are various organisations to contact for support, and many home-educating families have blogs on the internet for inspiration and encouragement to others (as well as a record and progress report for themselves!)
If you search for Education Otherwise, or Home-education Uk, you will come up with many websites able to answer your queries. Or, just contact me through the Dooyoo messaging system, I'm happy to help :o)
I was amazed at the strong views people had when we decided to home educate. I have to admit it was a big decision but my husband always felt that sending 4 year olds to school was way too young. He isn't English and he felt six was early enough. When the children were born we occasionally discussed it but we were busy and didn't fully consider it.
When our daughter was two we realised she was reading, by the time she was just four she was sitting reading to her friends at play group when a teacher visiting from the local school commented that it would be a problem when she started school. This did worry me so we visited the school and the head of reception was quite clear that she would have to start off with reading readiness books i.e. books with just pictures, and reading would be gently introduced. By the time she was due to start school she would read all the time, she was very keen on Famous Five books at that time and she also loved her Children's Bible Stories. After lots of agonising we decided that she should miss reception and start in year one. Then we moved house and put it off and eventually she started school at nine. She hated primary school, especially literacy hour which she found so boring and she told me one day that her teacher said she was a nuisance because she finished her maths sheets too quickly.
When the time came for her younger brother to start school we never even considered sending him.
At eleven she went to grammar school and has never looked back. I have no regrets and her only regret is that we didn't send her to school for a term so that she would have known how lucky she was. (her words not mine)
I was homeschooled from the age of 12 after being bullied in school. And in my last 4 years of schooling I met so many weird, lovely, amazing people I never thought I would.
Other reasons to homeschool your children are because the schools aren't 'as good as the used to be' or so to say. Loud students with no respect and teachers who just don't care or are outspoken.
I was very proud to say that instead of being confined to a school to read books on things the world was infact my whole school as in the years I was homeschooled I learnt so much more than I did in school.
As William Blake wrote in schoolboy 'How can the bird that is born for joy. Sit in a cage and sing?'
I have quite strong views on homeschooling, I'm more than prepared to homeschool my own children one day but if one day they were to turn around and say they wanted to go to school I wouldn't stop them.
I have such fond memories of being homeschooled. Going to stately homes in the summer and spending hours there, learning all the secrets of the home and walking around the gardens with my mum as she told me about the plants. In the winter I would read more and study harder with my maths and english. From the age of about 13 I started loving books more and more, wanting to read bigger books and the great thing about homeschooling is you have no boundaries.
My mother had the views that as long as I was 'up to date' with my maths and english I could pick my own 'lessons' after that. I remember many lazy summer afternoons in my garden after my maths and english reading books until I was called in for tea. Which sounds more like a 20s/30s style childhood than a 21st century one, which I am very grateful for.
To socialise I went to home-ed groups. It was great to meet kids that had been homeschooled for ever - they were all quite grown-up and most were really well spoken to say they are 8 / 10 - and most of these had parents who just let them learn as they wanted to, which sempt alien to me.
A woman from the LEA would come once a year to view my progress and was always impressed with the amount of work we did and the quality. After we finished schooling she did comment on how it was nice to have a family where she actually had too much work to mark on her sheet.
Speeding on now, even though I left 'school' with no qualifications I'm in my late teens and an office admin. I have a great boyfriend and I'm still in my tight knit family proving that just because you're homeschooled, it's doesn't mean you won't go on in life perfectly. As most of my teachers told my old school friends when questioned how i'd 'never get a job.'
One thing I'm proud to hear is when my mum says taking me out of school was the best thing she ever did.
If your child isn't enjoying school, isn't progessing, is getting bullied, please do not rule out this option. You won't regret it I promise. You don't need to be an Einstein and you don't need mass amounts of money to home ed.
Homeschooling is a very interesting and highly controversial subject as many people have different views on how children should be educated.
As a child, I always thought it would be great to school my own children. Of course, homeschooling must be agreed by both husband and wife, due to it being such a time-consuming job.
When I eventually married, I don't think homeschooling was exactly the most important issue in our minds and it was not really discussed. By the time I had our eldest son, it never really crossed my mind but by the time our son reached kindergarten age, we decided to put him in a Christian school that was available and within our budget. Before the school year was up we had to move due to a job change for my husband. Once again we put our eldest son into a Christian school. By this time, I had 2 more children that needed attention and I was well on my way to becoming just another regular mother with all the children in a regular school until.....
This was quite a small school with only 2 classes. The large class was the older children from year 4 - 8 and the smaller class was from reception - year 3. I was the teacher in the smaller class and had only 3 children in my class. The boy had been in the older class originally (his mother was the teacher of the older class) and he had many problems. He began improving in my class due to having one-on-one instruction and not having anyone to agitate him. He was the oldest in the class but needed the most help. I saw a change in his behaviour and both his mother and I were pleased.
The problem I had was not the children in the school but my children. I began seeing my two little ones go from enjoying time with us to becoming wild, little brats. Of course, as one of the teachers in the school, I was able to keep them in a little classroom next to mine and would check in on them while they played with their toys. Being quite busy during the day I didn't really notice too much the disintegration of their behaviour. Two weeks before school was to finish, I began noticing how badly they behaved and told my husband that I could not continue in the school. He was in agreement and as the headmaster of the school, he finished teaching the class while I took my children home to spend time with them as a mother and finish up my eldest son's homeschooling.
After another move with my husband’s company, I continued schooling my eldest son the next year. By this time, I was learning a great deal of patience. I wasn't patient all the time but I was trying as I knew the importance of being a good mother. The other two boys were still too young to start any schooling.
The following year, I decided I would try to school my two youngest sons, especially as the youngest really wanted to do something. My middle son was 7 by then and I knew he was ready as he was begging to read but my youngest was 5 and I wasn't completely sure about him. I started teaching abc's and phonics to both of them and my middle son was reading 3-4 syllable words within about 4 months time. I was so pleased because I knew it was the curriculum I used, especially as I followed what the author said to do. My youngest son did learn the sounds but wasn't quite ready to go on to the smaller case letters so I began all over again and he was ready the second time through. I also used going over the alphabet with my two youngest to teach my eldest handwriting, which came in handy!
The next year, we decided to send our children to a school to maybe get something from the school that I may not have been able to give them. I also thought that it would be nice to be able to have some time for me. Of course, that ended up not happening because I found a job at a child-care centre and worked throughout the day. When they were off school they would come to the child-care centre and stay there most times until I was done unless their father was off early.
The next year was spent doing a lot of travelling so we believed it was necessary to school them at home but when we finally arrived in England, we felt it was important to settle them down in school. My eldest went to a high school and my two youngest went to a primary school in a little village. On the whole, we were quite pleased with the primary school but very upset over the high school.
There were several areas that we had major concerns over the way they were teaching the children and went to the head-mistress to discuss this problem. Of course there was no allowance for redress from the head-mistress and we made the decision to take our eldest out of the school so we would finally school him at home with no more thoughts of putting him in a school. When the other two boys finished at the little village school, we brought them home, as well.
What is the answer in the end to all of this? I believe, if I had it to do all over again, I would just homeschool the boys throughout their schooling years. I listed just a slight few of the advantages but I would like to make very clear what the real advantages are.
1. It encourages a closer knit family and gives each one a true feeling of belonging.
2. The children know and feel the love given to them by the attention of the parents during the school time. There is no doubt with them when the parent is really trying to do their best at it.
3. It teaches the parent patience toward the child(ren) and gives a better relationship in that manner.
4. There is a flexibility (money wise) to be able to do things at less cost in the schooling as there is not the huge amount of money to be put out.
5. There is also a flexibility in when the family can take their holiday time especially at a cheaper rate than if they were at a school and went at the same time as everyone else.
6. There are always issues in the school with children bringing home bad habits from other children, teacher doesn't like the child, etc. This is not the case when they are homeschooled properly.
7. Some people complain about a socializing issue but in most cases this is NOT the case. As most homeschooled children are around adults more, they tend to learn how to solve problems in a more adult manner and grow up more respectful to adults then most children that attend a regular school and are thrown in with children their age. They learn how to socialize with most adults which will carry over into their time with children their age. This, in turn, gives them a greater appreciation for socializing as they become adults. Their interaction with others are well-rounded instead of being lopsided due to spending time with children all the time as most children don't know how to socialize properly anyway.
The disadvantages? A parent would obviously have less personal time available to them but then what's more important? The parent's personal time? or the child growing up to become well-rounded individuals in the community in which they live? I know we all appreciate well-rounded adults!
In my opinion there is not contest when it comes to choosing home education or convential schooling. I would always choose home education, for the fun, bonding, enjoyment, freedom and love you get back from child.
Its hard to hand your kids over to the education system when they are little, but imagine how youd feel having to send them to school when they are older and are having a problem, either with keeping up with their work in class or by being bullied by other kids.
I have experienced both with my eldest son David and like most other parents used to go into the school to talk to the teachers, but when the teachers begin to believe your child is a problem and a disruption to the class, things begin to get very stressful.
They dont see it that your child is just having a problem or that its a cry for help, they try to tell you that your child is bad and that the best thing to do is to punish them.
Heres my true story of David and what I ended up doing.
After moving to Wales I enrolled David into junior school, he was only ten and was very small for his age. He is now twenty five and still only five foot four and size 26 waist, at ten years old he looked seven years old and because of his size the other boys used to pick on him to see if he was hard as they say.
David soon learned to fight and to look after himself, a natural south paw as they say in boxing, but this didnt help his cause at school. He got a reputation for having a temper but being the only English child in the school apart from his sister, he used to get blamed for starting the fights.
To add to this he had an attention disorder but in 1989 it was called bad behaviour not A.D.D so Davids work suffered and his behaviour got worse, he was egged on by the older boys to play up for the teachers and his desperate need to fit in with the other boys seemed to send sense out of the window when it came to being naughty.
He soon learned that if he was naughty in class the bigger boys would laugh and like him, he wouldnt have to fight at play time and he could also get out of doing his work because he couldnt concentrate and also the teachers would send him out of the lesson.
At home he was totally different, an adventurous boy always making dens, climbing trees and finding branches to make into bows and arrows. He had a great imagination but school time was a disaster. He eventually started to play truant and one day the headmaster called me to say he had been found in town.
I made an appointment to go into the school and see the teachers.
Its hard being told that your child is a monster, an unruly fighting disorderly child, but like other parents we have to take it on the chin and try to work with the teachers to see if we can wade through the problems.
I was told David had fights, was disruptive in the classroom and was cheeky to the teachers.
You can imagine the mood I was in when I got home and when David came home in the taxi, he was sat down and given a talking to I can tell you.
David has always been an open boy with me, he still is and when I confronted him about the fighting, he said he had to as the other boys would bully him if he didnt fight who they told him to. They also egged him on to be naughty and the teachers hated him. I tried to explain that the teachers were only telling him off because he was naughty, but he was adamant that they really didnt like him. We came to a compromise that he would try to be good and not to fight or to be naughty in class.
Two weeks went by without any incident, then David came home with a huge scratch down his neck. I thought he had been fighting again and asked him where he had got the scratch from. He told me a teacher had done it on the bus on the way home from swimming.
He had been sat on the back seat and was standing up with the other boys, when the teacher had gone to the back of the bus and told him to sit down, being cheeky he said that the other boys were standing up so why had he to sit down.
The teacher then grabbed him by the neck and pulled him into the seat, this had made the scratch, she then sat with her arm across his stomach and was elbowing him in the ribs every time he tried to move.
Now, Im not a naïve parent as you learn in time that your child is capable of making up stories to get out of trouble, so flying off the handle isnt the first thing to do in these situation.
My husband went up to the school and asked to see the teacher who David had accused, she said David was making it up and that she hadnt even been sat on the back seat.
David was then told off for making stories up and for fighting.
My husband went out to his mates later that night and when he came back, he told me what he had been told.
He walked in his mates house and his mate's wife asked how David was, she said that her daughter had come home really upset as she was sitting on the back seat of the bus watching David get elbowed in the ribs by the teacher, he was crying and the teacher wouldnt let him move.
She also saw the scratch the teacher had made grabbing him down into the seat. My husband then went round to other mates houses to ask if their children had seen anything and all the children on the back seats had said that David wasnt lying.
I felt sick, I should have believed him and the next day I went up to the school and told the headmaster what had happened, he basically told me that that he though David was lying, when I said that other children had seen this happening, he said they were probably sticking up for David as they were scared of him.
I couldnt believe what I was hearing, so I said right until you find out what really happened David is staying at home, you can send the education officer round and we can investigate the matter.
After four weeks of David staying at home no-one had visited us, the teacher accused of the incident left the school to work somewhere else and even though we only lived about three minutes from the school gates, no-one came to see why David wasnt in school.
Six months later we moved to another village and David was now eleven ready to start secondary school, I bought him a uniform and enrolled him in the nearest school which was eight miles away in the nearest town, he had to go by taxi to the bus root, then on to school.
All was well, until a few weeks later, he never got off the taxi. I rang the school and it was shut, only the caretaker was there. I was frantic.
It was bonfire night and dark there were no mobiles in them days and the caretaker at the school was ringing all the teachers to see if anyone had seen him.
At seven oclock at night he arrived home with a teacher, who had taken him to her house.
Another teacher had made him stay behind in his last lesson to finish his writing as he was slow at writing being dyslexic as well as having A.D.D, so he had missed the bus which met the taxi.
The taxi came home without him and we were in a panic. David had gone to see if any teachers were in the school and one of them had offered to take him home. My faith in the school system had had it, why hadnt the teacher brought him straight home?
We never found out as he never went back to school.
This is just a little part of the trouble we had with David, other things happened, lots of stress was dealt with and Davids learning ability was nearly zero.
He wasnt a bad kid, just a boisterous lad, desperately trying to fit in. I blame myself sometimes sending a small English child into a welsh speaking school, but you think that they will have your childs best interests at heart, not just write him off as a dunce and let him slip further and further behind, until he loses interest all together.
I know that other parents are going through similar things with their children at school and this is why I am writing this experience with my son for you.
I learned about a charity called education otherwise, they help you to teach your child at home.
You have to write a letter to the education office and deregister your child, so that the truant officer doesnt call.
Not a lot of parents know this and some parents have been fined for keeping their children off school.
Heres the Education Act for your information:-
The responsibility of parents is clearly established in section 7 of the education act 1996 ( previously section 36 of the education act 1944)
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full time education suitable:-
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have , either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Suitable education is defined as preparing the children for life in modern civilised society and to ensure them to achieve their full potential.
Provided the child is NOT a registered pupil at a school, the parent is NOT required to provide any particular type of education, and is under NO obligation to :-
Have premises equipped to any particular standard.
Have any specific qualifications.
Cover the same syllabus as any school.
Adopt the National Curriculum.
Make detailed plans in advance .
Observe school hours, days or terms.
Have a fixed timetable, give formal lessons.
Reproduce school type peer group socialisation.
Match school, age-specific standards.
Seek permission to educate 'otherwise'
Take the initiative in informing the LEA.
Have regular contact with the LEA.
If a local LEA officer requests and informally asks for information that a child is receiving education, you can provide samples of work, projects or hold a meeting with yourself the child and the officer if wished to discuss the childs progress.
The LEA officer has no right to force entry into your home.
To de-register your child you have to notify in writing the school where your child attends and the local education office asking them to take the childs name off the register.
This is what I had to do with David.
Teaching David at home became a challenge, I was shocked at the fact that he couldnt read or write well for his age. Getting Davids attention was hard as he hated pens and paper, so I had to come up with ways of tricking him into learning.
Buying the Beano comic every week got him interested in words, leaving notes on the fridge to say theres a treat in here for you, also helped, playing hangman word games with him taught him to spell and lots of other games we made up.
Art he loved and wed go to galleries and museums, providing hed write just a little bit about it afterwards.
Swimming, football, skateboarding and walking was fun for P.E
Libraries provided all the books and different levels of educational books can be bought in most book shops.
I taught him English, Maths - which he developed an interest in, P.E which we loved, Science, Art, History, Music and made sure he had a good social life with his friends, as this is important for them to learn social skills too.
David is now a trained Chef and went on to college. I was so proud when he got his first job. I look back at all the stress there was when he was little and dread to think where he might have ended up had he carried on at school, probably got in with a bad crowd and ended up in prison or worse.
As a parent I think its a duty to take full responsibility of your child, educating David was hard work but it was my responsibility as a mother to see that it happened.
I wouldnt hesitate to do it again and have been asked to teach some of my friends children who are having similar problems at school.
If you are having problems, then take the alternative approach, theres plenty of help out there.
Libraries, swimming baths, museums, places of historical interest, adventure activities, science museums, internet.
Visit www.educationotherwise.org for more facts and help.
The learning facilities for a child at home are now so much better than when I taught David, as the internet is there to help too.
Education otherwise can help keep you in touch with other parents in your area and help with ideas.
There is also a small fee to join their site if you want and they will send you a card which your child can carry to show the truant officer, if they are stopped in town by the police for not going to school.
Your not alone if your tearing your hair out with the school your childs in.
There are plenty of parents now turning to home education, it's fun, a challenge, rewarding and helps put a stop to the stresses which may be occuring in your childs school.
Good luck and have fun.
You can if you try.
I came across this topic the other day and after some thought I decided to write my views on the subject. I was home tutored by my parents for my last year of primary school(Grade 7),because I was bullied badly in my school.I know of a few other children who were removed from the same school for the same reason. My parents took on the challenge of teaching me in my last year of primary school,possibly the most important as I was preparing for high school. I understand that in England,11 year olds take tests pre high school but in Scotland this was not an issue. Many people feel that home schooling causes isolation and will cause problems with the childs social life. As I had many problems at school my social life had very little to it,although I had one or two friends who I would see.As part of my learning my parents encouraged me to join clubs and groups to interact. When I went to high school I felt I was starting fresh and could get on.Unfortunatly I was still bullied but this was for reasons other than being home tutored. If you were considering home schooling a child right from a young age,the interaction part probably would be a problem,and I would definetly suggest considering getting your child to join clubs. One problem you may face with home schooling is not knowing what you need to teach and not having wide enough knowledge. Neither of my parents had(at that time) completed higher education but both were well read and intelligent. In subjects where they had problems they researched using the internet and library,and we learnt together. I had particular problems with Maths,so they bought me Math learning games for the computer. As I was the only child my parents had at home they could afford to spend lots of time with me.They ran their own restaurant which was often busy, so I was encouraged to use my own initiative and put in effort with my own projects.These skills have been very helpful w
hen studying in high school.The time I did spend with my parents was always very helpful and I feel I became closer to them. Time is a very important consideration in this subject,as you have to be prepared to teach your child and further your own knowledge as well as carry out your daily life.If you haven't got time for this then school is probably a better option. We were visited a few times by a member of the Education Board who gave my parents tips on how to improve their teaching methods and what I should be learning,which was very useful.It also helped to ensure I was not behind on the skills needed for high school.My parents also contacted the local high school and checked out the kind of things I'd need to know. It may be a concern that your child will get behind in their skills if they don't attend primary school.I was worried about this especially in maths,but when I started my Secondary School course I was put ahead by several levels in the first week.I finished High School last year and came out with very good grades.I have also had my work used as good examples for students to look at for past exam papers in English. I would recommend home schooling your child as an option if the schools that were available were unsuitable or if your child has bullying problems.You have to have true commitment to helping your child do the best and preparing them for high school,and it could be hard to do this and have a full time career.If you are currently home schooling,good luck and enjoy yourself,you never know-you might learn something new yourself!!!
I am a liitle concerned about taking the home schooling option too lightly. These are only some of the disadvantages, that I see arising from educating your child at home : 1. Even if educated, very few people are of a high standard in the broad range of subjects required. 2. Education is not just about academia - it is about interacting with your peers. The best friends are made at school. 3. Schools provide life experience which can then be built on by further education, followed by a chosen carreer part. It is a natural progression.... 4. It is difficult being objective when it concerns your own child. 5. Children are competitive. You need group goals. 6. "Two heads is better than one" Children learn from each other, especially language development. 7. Chidren are often more attentive to outside authority. 8. Schools can be a 'safety net' if there are problems at home. I myself, have 2 special needs children, one of which has high functioning autism. My son was diagnosed early on as having a problem at Nursery School, yet I had become so accustomed to his idiosyncracies that I considered such behaviour 'normal'. Shcools can draw from a wide pool of experience to assess & educate a child , whereas a single person by definition is limited. I am not adverse to educating a child at home if there is a specific need or if a child is bitterly unhappy. I would encourage all parents to be a part of a childs eduation in terms of showing interest, helping out at school, taking part in activities etc... I believe parents should have larger say in how their children are being educated. I do not, however, believe that the home option should be entered into lightly.
So, you want to do home schooling? You're not happy with the way things are going at your child's present school? You can't get along with the school administrators or the teacher won't listen to your in put about your child? You're worried about guns, sex, drugs, to name only a few, in the classroom? Their are behavioural or emotional problems at school? In general, you feel the public school or for that matter, private schools are dangerous, and not the environment for your child? Your child is behind or appears slow in language or in reading skills, or they don't appear to be learning anything? Your child is an unmotivated learner or is uninterested in educational goals? The public school system just isn't getting the job done? The Christian school isn't quite the place for your child or they institute religious teachings that have nothing to do with what you feel is education? Do some of these sound familiar? The point is: " make sure you are doing or are going to do this for the right reasons. Not for some biased or emotional response to an irritation, disagreement, prejudice, or on a whim! " Remember, this is your child I am talking about, and every decision you make has a direct bearing on their future and vocational pursuits; not to mention their emotional well being. However, you will be happy to know, that, in general, most parents choose home schooling for the right reasons. Whether it is because they want more control over what their child learns, or for religious reasons, or because their child needs a lot of one-on-one tutoring in language or reading (they need remedial assistance). Too, many parents feel that the public or private schools don't have the time or resources, or appear uninterested in giving their child what they really need. Likewise, some want to be with their child and develop a special bond that will last a life time. For these and other reasons, most
parents make the right choice, and in the long run, their child will be better off for that decision. I have read many, if not all of the opinions written about this topic and it seems as though a lot of people are deadly against the idea that children should be taught in their own homes. Now it is time to separate the facts from the fiction and listen to the real truth about how good home schooling is. I know that as soon as I have children, hopefully in the near future, I will definitely not be sending them along to an ordinary state school where they can learn and be influenced far to easily by others. By teaching them at home, they will be able to stand on their own feet and be individual as well as unique. When they go out into the real world and experience work for the first time, there will be a mixture of people, the people who have had a good education and those who have had the worst. Hopefully I will be able to say that my child has had one of the best educations available and has enjoyed the way in which they didn't have to mix in with bad gangs and groups. There are so many good points about home schooling, that they almost cancel out any reason why you would be sending them to school. People have said 'my child won't be able to make friends' or 'they won't be sitting key stage tests' but this isn't necessarily true. They can make friends quite easily, in fact because it is more of a challenge to make friends outside of school anyway, it can be something which they can progress towards and if they do make friends with other children in their area then they can feel the feeling of success and know that they haven't just been put in with a bunch of kids the same age as them and told to get along. Bullying happens at schools, it happens in the real world too. If you can prevent it then why not take the opportunity for your child to concentrate on their studi
es rather than worrying about whether the child fits in or not. There is plenty of time in the child's teenage years and later life, for them to make friends, especially since it will be easier. And about key stage tests...well these occur when the child is in primary school and secondary school (at about age 7, 11 and 13). The children do not have to taken them, but schools usually suggest it and you have to have a really good case to get them out of them. I think that the tests are good to show how well they have been learning up until a certain topic, but all they really are for is statistical features, so your child does not have to be included and by being home schooled, you can make that choice for them. They have to take their GCSEs to make sure that they do have some basic background knowledge when going out to look for a job, these are the main qualifications that they need. They can choose what subjects they want to take, and unlike normal state schools where you only have a choice out of what they are prepared to teach the children, what subjects they have teachers for and what subjects they think your child will do best in, they can choose what they like. How many schools do you know who offer a GCSE in Parenthood and Child Development or Beauty Trade? Yeah, they might not be what an employer really wants from an employee but if the child is interested in that area of work then that is good to teach them something they enjoy. If you are good at teaching (there is no need to have a teaching grade to be able to teach your child - but I recommend having one), then your child will learn sufficiently and will be able to know about real life experiences. One thing you must not be lacking on, is time! There must be a parent at home full time. If you are a two wage earner family, then you can just about forget it. Of course, if you have a home business, the picture is much brighter. If there is more than
one child, it is definitely a full time commitment. This can't be done at night, especially with small school aged children. You can, however, do some tutoring at night for a little time, or more so, with older or high school kids. But, in general, children need their rest and good nutrition. Home schooling is mostly a 'day' activity. Always be consistent in your teaching, establish a set time to do schooling, stick to a schedule but be flexible to change, always give encouragement and praise, and avoid, at all cost, severe discipline and verbal attacks to keep them focused or "on task" (children need breaks, exercise, and play-time; each child is different). Above all, love your child, no matter what, and always be there for them. The government will pay you a small amount of money to help support the teaching of your child, such as to buy equipment which would usually be used in a school laboratory and to buy paper, pencils and stationary. An inspection will be made approximately 3 times a year to see that the home environment is a suitable place for the child to be working in and to see if the child has been incurring any problems or feels the need to go to a normal state school. Are you prepared to make a commitment in time and in resources? To be really effective as a home schooling parent, you need a computer. Oh, there will be a lot of people that will tell you that you don't need one, but if you read the literature and sift through all the hype and emotion, a computer is, in my view, an indispensable and productive tool for all students. You will, of course, use other resources (computers are not perfect), but they are great as a tutor, as a motivator, and as a "learning enhancer" nonetheless (especially if you have the right computer curriculum). Plan on adding one to your tool/resource kit, you'll be glad that you did! Overall home schooling i
n my opinion, is the schooling of the future....
Enough Already. Let me tell you about my mom's auto mechanic. My mom has one of those old Karmann-Ghia cars that she has had forever and she absolutely loves the car. She always pays Owen to wash it and polish it and she even had a professional photographer take pictures of it so she could carry them with her when she travels. It is a nice car if that is what you are into but she considers it the best car ever. Now our local German import mechanic is a hun named Konrad. He is a very foul man, one of those "He was good but then he went too far" type Germans, if you know what I mean. He hates my mom's car. Totally detests it. When she takes it in he always points out "I hates ziss Atto" Then he makes lewd comments about Italian women in some Alpine village since the Karmann Ghia is a joint project between a kraut and a eyetalian. Do you see my point? My mom loves the car, but to Konrad it is just his livelihood, merely a job he was well trained to perform, and perform well for the past 30 years whereas my mom can't even get the bonnet open. Still the some idiots would say that my mom should work on her own car since, she loves it more than anyone else, and everyone knows that something as simple as internal combustion engines only requires the worker to have love for the item, and no other training. If you do not understand what this has to do with homeschooling I would venture to guess that you were in fact homeschooled and some bullshit workbooks couldn't quite teach you to think outside the lines as well as interacting with a bunch of other people your own age. Ever notice how you can pick out the kids that had old parents? The kids that lacked any interaction with other kids before childrens garden? Let me give you some history, I know home school history lessons cover the entire 6,000 years of world history per Usher and the bible, and probaly dwells quite a bit on 4 BC to 33 AD (except the part
about the inquisition, 3 million German girls getting burnt as witches, and how the Indians were decimated in the name of the church). But lets discuss the start of public education. And where did it begin, Germany of course. But why? Public school was set up for the purpose of creating social order and a basic standard education to facilitate the Prussian militarism and ready supply of suitable conscripts. That was the purpose, so that all of the people could fit in and work together as a cohesive group. Frederick the great didn't manage to come up with homeschool lessons for the people who did not want their kids to go to school with the other kids who might have been papist instead of Lutheran or maybe their parents drank a bit. Nope, and Fred had even set up a post office so it was possible. Learning to deal with other people. Learning to deal with other people. Learning to deal with other people. That is the point of public school. I must admit I am biased, my mom was a teacher and so was Popeye. We used to go to a church for years that started pushing people to homeschool, the pastor promoted it from the pulpit, so ever since then we had "Home Church" that was probaly as effective as home school. Another benefit of school in AMerica is that if kids go to school they will get at least one good, hot, well balanced meal, that theoretically supplies a kid with enough food to stay alive. Just wanted to mention that. Now I just wonder do people that have home school, do they have home marching band? Home football team? Home science club? I know, they get together with other sheltered losers and go on field trips together in lieu of school with a bunch of kids of all ages. That really teaches kids to socialize, to go to a museum with some other dull losers cut from the same cookie cutter, probaly the same church, same race and all that. Will they manage to live life by never interacting with the e
vil public? (Its because they teach kids to have sex in the public schools, thats what it is.) I hope them the best of luck in doing so. How does super housewife do in teaching Calculas? How about Spanish or French? Just curious. I could have used some housewife, oops, I meant Fulltime Christian Homemaker, to explain all that integral sine and cosine crap when I had to learn it. By the way for all you homeschoolers that still want to teach physical education, I can come teach it to your 15 year old daughters free of charge. I can teach them wrestling or Judo. Let me tell you the best thing about Public School versus learning from flimsey little books that try to replace a professional educator. It keeps the little sons-of-bitches off the streets most of the day while adults are at work and can't keep a good eye on them. My little brother, 15 year old punk, Owen is no longer welcome at the Public schools and the only private schools are Papist so he has to learn at home. Owen is a interesting case. He can not function with other people, not because he is such a good boy and they will taint him but because he is evil. He is like a junkie, constantly craving these fixes he needs of disrupting society and turning order to chaos. He has some real problems. That Ritalin shit couldn't even tame him. He is just a bad boy. So now he is no longer able to go to school so my mom has to pay $1600 per year for this school in a suitcase that comes and he is supposed to study. Of course he doesn't. He sets fires all day unless he is day-trading on my dad's E-Trade account. He is a brilliant boy but just awful. But ironically it is Owens actions that speak loudest in support of home school. He is supposed to do these workbooks, with cute little pictures that would have been outdated 15 years ago. Oh, yeah, he has some CD-ROM thing and videocassettes and even a web site to look up stuff on but it is a farce. He defaces his
workbooks and then does all 10 paces that my mom sends in every two weeks to florida in the last day. These are the things Owen did to get expelled, and I think it demonstrates that if there was no school this crap could not happen. Owen made himself his own cordless phone that he merged with a frequency scanner so he can lurk around peoples houses that have a cordless phone until he finds a dial tone. Then he can either call his internet-Star-Trek-Buddies in Hungary, Phone Sex from Brazil or anybody else on that persons phone line. So one January day that it saw it was the vice-superintendents of schools 25th Wedding anniversary and as clear as July, no snow anywhere he goes and hides in the vice superintendents garage and calls the radio station and cancells school. Of course they have caller ID and see it is the superintedents name and number coming up on caller ID so they cancel school. And the police got involved and all that and since the call came from that guys house he was in the dutch, his boss accused him of cancelling school to get a day off and he had to go to rehab. Owen also called in a bomb threat from the other neighbors house when he saw the neighbor kids had skipped school and were playing playstation all day long (he was jealous that they had a game he did not have and my mom hadn't driven him to Wilmington to get it yet). And of course the police came and took them away. Then the kids parents blamed their truancy on the playstation and Owen got the game off of them for pennies as "They don't need it where they are going" Oddly enough Owen excells in a couple of his homeschool classes. The first is religion. He always has liked to modify my little cousins "Steffi's" barbie dolls. He uses modelling clay on them. He uses velcro to make the females look like they are off "Amatuer and Teen Kingdom's Hairy and natural" site and It would be incorrect to say that he makes th
e men anatomically correct, as very few men have wangers hanging down past their knees. But he made a GI Joe into Jesus and uses a digital camera to have Jesus fight the Taliban, giant Spiders and Monster snapping turtles (although the episode with the snapping turtle required a trip to walmarts to allow Jesus to replicate his stunt with the Romans ear with his own arm after the turtle got brassy. Owen says that no where in the bible did it ever say that Jesus did not fight monsters and could have been true. I don't agree but his little films are good. His Mary Magdalene is one of those international barbies, he uses the american Indian one for her. I think his shows are Blasphemy if not at best just sacrilidge. He also excells at computers. He calls himself a "Kracker for Khrist". He breaks into pornagraphic sites and damages them and disrupts their services with massive spams. He tries to shut down immoral sites as often as possible. There is one person on Dooyoo always bothering me and Owen begs for me to "Give me the word" so he can erase this persons account and something about "taking root" of the persons business computers. I don't think it is right although I seriously consider it. owen says Dooyoo's network is a screen door in a submarine. This shit can not happen if kids are at school during the day. At worst, the schools are still a pretty damn good babysitter. At least give them credit for that. Sure your kid might get groped or punched now and again, but think how much crap they would get into if they were home all the time. I have been awake smoking plenty of crack for the last 3 days so this might not make much sense. I just want to tell anybody who homeschools to go to hell unless they go get certified to teach each and every subject they are trying to teach the kids. I gotta go
First, let's start by saying: "just because it is legal, does not make it right". The best time in my life was when I was in school. Peer pressure was at times an issue, but with the advise of my parents and sometimes the advise of a school counsler, it was the best time of my life. I miss the adventure of it all. I learned alot about different cultures and people in general by interacting and participating in different school functions. Don't get me wrong, I did have my bad days, but the good days out weigh the bad days by tons. Just thinking about high school makes me smile and miss my friends and teachers. When my parents tried to tell me that this would be the best time of my life, I didn't beleive them until it was over. Education is the future for all of us, and if our future is being taught only the very basics of education, we all need to worry. Public school has one big advantage; it prepares the children to interact with society. A child being taught at home may not get the chance to interact with other children and learn basic skills of interacting with society and dealing with every day challenges and obstacles. Sheltering our children, keeping them at home away from society and the public in general, just to protect them from all the awful things in the world is not the answer. You can run, but you cannot hide, and eventually the child will learn this the hard way. How will these home-schooled people interact with the public when they are old enough to get a job? Let me guess, will they work at home, shut the world out completely. Will they order everything they need from their computers and telephones? Will this be their way of interacting with the world and society? No human contact? This does not seem like a healthy way to live life. The only advantage I can think of when it comes to home schooling is sleeping in and spending more time with the family. Home schooling is the lazy and easy way ou
t. Do as little as possible to get by in the world and when they get old enough to work, they can say they don't have enough education to get a good paying job. This way, we can pay them to be on welfare or some other sort of government assistance. My own daughter wanted me to home school her when she started high school, because she was afraid of another kid at school and didn't like all her teachers. Well, not everything in life is going to be peaches and cream baby, so get used to it. You have to work hard and fight for what you want in this world. I was not going to let my daughter be a loser or a quitter. She is now a senior in high school and she is doing fine. Yes, she had to stand up to the kid that gave her a hard way to go when she was a freshman, but she learned to hold her own and not let anyone push her around. She still does not like all her teachers, but this is also ok. How many of us like our bosses or supervisors at our jobs? This is a part of life. She also freaks out from time to time about exams and peer pressure. These things are all a part of growing up and hiding from them and not dealing with the problems that life tends to throw our way is not the answer. At one time or another, we all have learned to adjust and adapt to our environments and it's many situations. These kids must be taught to deal with life and its problems instead of being sheltered from them. I understand that many parents may choose to home school their children. This is great if they are willing to take the time and go the extra mile to make sure the children are getting all the required attention needed. These children need to experience the world and its many wonders. Many household have 2 working parents, how do or how can they make and take the time to teach their children properly? Maybe they can... But how many parents can take the time from work to take their children on field trips, and other activities offered by conventio
nal schooling. I just think and beleive that conventional schooling has much more to offer a child.
Most parents worry about the education of their children at one time or another, some of the worries are: is the education received in various schools good enough, pressure of exams, bullying, are our children’s classes too large, are they being cared for properly while at school, etc. etc. etc. but how many parents really consider taking their children out of mainstream education and teaching them at home? There are no official figures to show how many children are educated at home but a very conservative estimate is between 5,000 and 10,000. The Education Act 1996 (previously 1944 Education Act) states that: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full-time education suitable: a) to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and b) to any special educational needs the child may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” It is the last two words “or otherwise” that are important in this act, what the act is saying is that education is compulsory, not school and therefore any parent has the right to educate their children at home. The above Act applies to England and Wales; in Scotland the law is slightly different. So would you consider educating your child at home? Many people probably have an image of a child sitting alone at home with no friends but in reality a child educated at home could be taking advantage of all the facilities the community has to offer. Home educated children are able to take advantage of school programmes at museums and science workshops, they can mix with their peers at out of school activities such as youth clubs, swimming, dance classes, cubs, scouts, brownies, guides, drama groups, music groups etc., with a home computer resources are available in minutes and most Education Authorities have Learning Resource Centres where books and other educational equipment will be available. Children
educated in mainstream state schools also have the opportunity to socialize at the above groups as well as interacting with their peers in the school environment. At school children are taught by people qualified in their subject and all the facilities required for a particular subject should be available to them, teachers are also facilitators encouraging children to find out for themselves and gain confidence. To teach your child at home you do not need to be a teacher but to be successful you need to have a keen interest in your child’s education, be willing to learn yourself, not be afraid to ask questions, admit when you don’t know the answer to something and be willing to try new things. Parents teaching children at home must also become facilitators and not take the easy way out by doing everything for the child. Children taught at home do not have to follow the National Curriculum or take Key Stage tests so those children who do not perform well under pressure or in a competitive environment could benefit from home education, however throughout life we compete constantly, we compete for friendships, jobs, promotion, even partners so is it a bad thing to learn to compete at an early age? In mainstream education your child will leave school with a National Record of Achievement to show to prospective employers, it is possible to create a Record of Achievement for home educated children by keeping records of sporting events a child participates in, community work and you can ask for certificates from leaders of any groups your child may have attended. Due to external pressures children educated at school are not always allowed to work at their own speed, bright children are often held back and slower children left behind. A child educated at home is able to consistently work at the pace they are comfortable with and if you as the educator are providing your child with a full and varied education there is no rea
son why a home-educated child should not fulfil their true potential. At school children are prepared for GCSE and ‘A’ level examinations throughout their secondary education, teachers are under pressure to get results and most do a tremendous job, classes are usually large and some will include disruptive children. Those children who are educated at home are also eligible to enter GCSE and ‘A’ level examination however this can be expensive, you will get no financial help from the Education Department, parents can send for the syllabus from an examination centre and children can take the exam at the centre, follow a correspondence course or employ a home tutor, or enrol your child in a Further Education Centre at sixteen to take examinations. So children educated at home have the same opportunities as those educated in the state system. Parents of children who are victims of bullies at school might feel it better for the child to be educated at home, in some cases this will be the right decision however some children are bullied because they do not mix and are shy, they have few friends and are always on the outside; is it better to remove that child from main stream education and the bullies, the child could be even more isolated and might in later life have problems integrating with his/her peers, or is it better for the child to remain in mainstream school and hopefully receive help to develop friendships, gain confidence and learn to interact with his/her peers. Most children adapt to and cope well at school; a small minority of children will come on in leaps and bounds at home. It is not an easy decision to remove your child from mainstream school but one more and more parents are making. If you opt to educate your child at home a moderator from the Education Authority will be appointed to ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations to educate your child to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and
to any special educational needs the child may have. The moderator will visit your child in the home at least twice a year. Basically it is legal to educate your child at home, it can be expensive but does not have to be, exams can be studied for and taken at home, a home-educated child can enrol into Further Education to take exams, you don’t have to be a teacher but you do need enthusiasm and commitment. I have three children who were all educated in the state system at the local Comprehensive School, all three left school with a minimum of seven Grade A to C GCSEs and three ‘A’ levels, they all gained entry into University. My eldest child is now teaching and my youngest child is studying to teach children with special needs so I have to say I was very happy with my children’s education. However I am employed as a Mentor in a Comprehensive School and I am aware that there are a minority of children who would benefit greatly from Home Education but the vast majority of children need to be involved in school life. If you have more than one child you could be faced with the problem of one child benefiting from home education but the other child benefiting from mainstream education. You have to weigh up the pros and cons, consider the child in question and decide what is best for each individual child. I do believe there is a need for both types of education and as parents we should not be afraid of exercising our right to the best education possible for each of our children. For information about educating your child at home telephone the Home Education Advisory Service on 01707 371854 or log on to their website at www.heas.org.uk