Education is one of the most important things you can give a child. In the UK, a full-time education, for compulsory school age children, is a statutory duty. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that this must be, “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” There are lots of good reasons to home educate; this article covers just a few of them.
The default British education option is otherwise (or, other means in Scotland) – an efficient and effective full-time home education. School is an opt-in system, so it’s important to consider whether you want to send your child to school or keep them in homeschool. If you don’t apply for a school place, then you will not be automatically assigned one.
To help parents decide, I often suggest writing a pros and cons list. This usually helps clarify which education option is best for their family. To get you started here are some good reasons to home educate. Pick out the ones that apply to you and write down any cons. Do you have more cons or more pros? Are any of the pros or cons particularly important? Highlight the non-negotiable points; these will be the deciding factor, regardless of either eduction type’s advantage. Whichever side has the most pros or has the most non-negotiable points is the winner.
Some Good Reasons to Home Educate
- Home education has no mandatory hours so you can fit it around your work and family commitments. Welcome to built-in flexibility whenever you need it. You can homeschool Sunday to Thursday, afternoons only, or online as you travel. Never again will you be compelled to get up at early o’clock to coax a reluctant sleepy child to school on time. Say goodbye to the dreaded school runs! (Alas, you’ll still have to do them for all your child’s extracurricular activities so it only cuts down half your taxi-of-mom duties.)
- You don’t need a classroom to homeschool; a small home is no bar to home education. Even very structured educators need no more than a writing surface and a place to use it. Home education doesn’t tie to you to a fixed location every day; you could learn outdoors, at a museum, or at your local public library.
- The maximum class size at a state school is meant to be 30. That means many children experience 1:30 tuition. Even with a full-time teaching assistant, that’s 1:15 adult to child attention. At home, you can target unlimited 1:1 time to the child who needs it most. And, with that level of attention, you can race through your day’s studies in a fraction of the time required at a school.
- Custom curriculum. You can use any curricula of your choice – or none at all. If you think large chunks of the National Curriculum are superfluous to your needs, ditch them. You can even write your own curriculum or unschool completely!
- Spend as much or as little as you like! Home education is the cheapest education option available. There are no mandatory lessons or resources that you must purchase. You can use free curricula products and reuse or repurpose resources lying around your home.
More Good Reasons to Home Educate
- You can provide any SEN accommodations that your child needs, without having to consult the school’s budget or face “computer says no” red tape roadblocks. Homeschool doesn’t require hall passes or EHCP documents. And you don’t need permission for medical appointments during school hours.
- All home educators are part of the wider homeschool community. You can join your local home education group and meet fellow parents. You can attend group meets, arrange social playdates, and join in with organised educational field trips. The homeschool community provides strong support to any home educators who need it.
- Children develop at different rates; if your child is emotionally or academically behind or ahead of their peer group, that can be readily accommodated via home education. You do not need to study at the same level across all subjects. And you do not need to make playdates within an arbitrary age group. Mixed age homeschool meets are fun and relaxing; your child can gravitate toward their preferred friends and peer group.
- Mix and match school and home education; flexischooling is a legal option if your preferred school’s headteacher is willing to accommodate part-time students. Popular splits are mornings and afternoons, or a 3/2 week. You can have your cake and eat it!
- Nothing is set in stone. It’s easy to apply for an in-year school place should you change your mind at any point. Home education should be fun and enjoyable; the moment it stops working for you and your family, feel completely free to opt back into the school system. It’s not like you can’t ever change your mind again. And it’s even easier to opt back out. (In England, you can deregister from a state school with immediate effect.)
Making Your Education Decision
Finally, please remember that there is no correct choice. There’s only the best choice for your children, at this moment in time. School suits some children and home education suits other children. Don’t decide on a whim; decide based on what is right for your family.
There are lots of good reasons to choose school and there are lots of good reasons to home educate. You should never feel forced into either decision or succumb to societal peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what your friends and wider family have chosen to do with their children’s education. It’s about what is right for your child and your family. Every child is different. Maybe all your kids are best suited to home education. Perhaps flexischooling is right for one child but not their siblings. That’s okay! There’s no such thing as a cookie cutter family. You know your children’s aptitudes and abilities best. It’s your children, your life, and always your choice. Believe in yourself; you’ve got this!