A friend posted a link to THIS ARTICLE which notes the massive rise in homeschooling families across the states of America. The article suggest the 75% rise is due, largely, to dissatisfaction with the school system there.
I don’t know what the figures are like this side of the pond (I think we learned in the Badman Balls days that statistics were completely arbitrary and meaningless, because they weren’t accurate) but I do remember that reports went out a few months after the election when Badman and Balls were no longer able to come after us, saying, registered home ed families in Oxford and someplace else had risen by 50%. It was almost as if the negative publicity the media had tried to give us had backfired and simply made more people aware that home education was a good choice for their children. The 50% had to be children taken from school and therefore registered with the LA and didn’t include those families who had never sent their children to school.
If you want to home educate in England and Wales you do not need to be registered with the Local Authority. However, if you have removed your child from school you will need to write to the head and s/he will pass this information onto the LA who will automatically register your child. So, as we pulled two children from school we are registered, whereas many of our friends are not. On an even weirder note, in some families one child could be registered and LA loose the paperwork so that other children aren’t. It happens.
A family can choose to register with the LA if they want to, but as there is little to no support from the LA there doesn’t seem much point, and therefore very few families bother. Nevertheless, despite all the information and legal niceties, far too many HE families report threatening behaviour from the LA person- usually a welfare officer. We have been very lucky in that the LA people with whom I have dealt have been respectful and made the effort to get to understand what HE is. For friends who come under a different authority that has not been the case. There’s been some rumblings that the Local Authority people want to “build bridges” with home educators and in some areas those bridges could be built. Sadly, when yet another family is door-stepped by a Welfare Officer and where “safeguarding” gets bandied about for no reason, those bridges soon tumble. (Part of this, it seems to me, is rooted in the ignorance of the EWOs involved who must think the propaganda about “isolation” is true and come a cropper when some new and apparently green home educator gets help because she knows other more experienced families).
One of the major reasons home educators get cross with poor behaviour from the LA is because so many of us saw our children failed miserably in school – which is under the remit of the LA.
I know many home educators who have chosen this route for very positive reasons. They love the way they can tailor the work to the child and the choices of method, philosophy and resources that are available to home edders that aren’t available in schools. We see our children grow and explore and have time to just be. We see them learn to be with their siblings, setting up close relationships for life. We see their enthusiasm for learning and we can prioritise things properly, adjusting them as necessary.
We are also home educating at a time where resources are abundantly available online or via the post and many of those resources are free. I think many of us who have been doing this for some time have made free resources available and have benefited from other families’ freebies.
Unfortunately there are many negative reasons for home education. Children who are bullied, ignored, too sick, and/or where the school won’t or can’t handle basic medication, or with shamefully unmet learning needs, are removed by parents and successfully home educated. The question that some of us are asked “Do you think you can do it better than school?” has to be answered with a resounding “Yes!” In my case it was more “I couldn’t make it worse…” but now I just know I am offering the children something positive that isn’t available in school. When you look around nearly all of us have at least one child with a “special educational need” (SEN) and yet studies show that home educated children generally out perform schooled children in educational and social testing.
I do love seeing my children enjoy learning and not being ashamed of wanting to learn. I also love that they can have difficulties in certain areas and not have to be ashamed about that either. I love the different things we can go off and study as we aren’t tied into a curriculum. If they struggle with something we have the time and the genuine love to work with it until they are over the obstacles.
I can tell when one of them is too tired or has simply lost that concentration and can send them to do something else, take a break or just make a cuppa while they recharge and then they can come back to it fresh. Sometimes we decide today isn’t going to work so we can put the lesson off until another time.
I love the way the children at Home Ed Group work together. Ages and special needs of all kinds are unimportant – everyone chips in. If problems occur the mums can deal with it straight away, nipping things in the bud and helping the children remember how to behave properly. We aren’t saints, and neither are our children – all the more reason to be there to deal with bad behaviour straight away.
One of the other major advantages in home education – at least for us – has been helping the children to learn independently. It’s something I remember someone from the Open University saying about home educated youngsters who took on OU causes under the age of 18. They could already work independently and so could get on with things without the tutor having to say when to open the book and how many pages to read.
Home Education isn’t for everyone. It’s not a panacea against all educational and family problems; but the fact is, it is good for many families and I suspect would be better for a lot of children who are currently being failed in school.
Studies that have been done make interesting reading in that they show children from poorer backgrounds who are home educated do as well as children from so-called “middle class” families. Schools can’t make this claim sadly.
Home educating is hard work, and there are times when I wish I wasn’t doing it; but overall I think it’s working well for us and most importantly, it’s working very well for the children.