Lee Wilcock, the Principal of homeschooling provider Wolsey Hall Oxford, takes you through it.
Homeschooling has been on the rise since the pandemic, with many dads now taking responsibility for their children’s education at home – either working from home themselves and combining the two, or committing solely to full-time childcare.
A recent survey in Schools Week has suggested that around 125,000 children were homeschooled across England at some point in the 2021-22 academic year. And that’s after lockdowns ended.
So where to start with homeschooling?
To begin with, homeschooling places the student right at the centre of the learning experience, unconstrained by school buildings, facilities, and rigid timetables. Are all or any one of these holding your child back? Is it something they find difficult to cope with?
When does your child work best? First thing in the morning, or perhaps later in the day? Homeschooling allows children to study at times that are most suited to them as individuals. Further, homeschooling can work around family life and commitments, rather than the other way round.
School anxiety, sadly, is also a growing factor when choosing a different way of learning, with many young people struggling to cope with a return to a ‘bricks and mortar’ education after the comparatively less rigid, often more relaxed style of learning at home during the pandemic. Some may benefit from a mix of traditional schooling with some homeschooling included – perhaps to ease them back, or as a permanent solution.
But whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that homeschooling, while very appealing, can also be a hugely daunting prospect for parents who are often unsure where to start, and question their own abilities to make it work.
One solution is to work in tandem with a specialist homeschooling provider which will have the expertise and experience to guide parents through this initial stage.
Providers can give parents the welcome reassurance and support they need, as Wolsey Hall’s Head of Primary Level, Christine Armstrong, explains:
“Recognising that not all parents have a breadth of knowledge spanning all subjects, a homeschooling provider, such as Wolsey Hall, has individual subject teachers available to help, just like a traditional school but with an approach tailored to each child. At Wolsey Hall though, every student is also assigned their very own Student Progress Manager (SPM) who is tasked to stay in regular contact with both students and parents.
“An SPM develops a thorough understanding of their individual students and the families’ circumstances which allows a highly personalised connection to be forged. SPMs can help manage assignment schedules, monitor and assist with progress goals, and help create a place, pace and style of learning that works for the individual.”
Gordon is currently homeschooling his son, Clive.
“We’ve been homeschooling for over two years and started due to our remote location in Bali,” he explains.
“We want to make sure that Clive receives an education to equip him for university anywhere in the world, should he so wish.
“As it’s just Clive and myself, we can develop a structure to suit our needs, but Wolsey Hall’s support certainly keeps us on track, motivates us and, perhaps most importantly, ensures that we don’t miss anything academically.”
At Wolsey Hall, we advise parents to check the individual legal circumstances for their country of residence before committing fully to homeschooling.
In the UK, it’s actually very simple to start homeschooling which is more often referred to as ‘elective home education’.
Parents can deregister children from their school by writing to the headteacher stating an intention to homeschool. The school will then notify the local authority. While children from age five must receive a full-time education, they do not have to follow the national curriculum.
For Gordon and Clive, the transition was straightforward:
“It was easy for Clive to transition from ‘standard’ local Balinese school to homeschooling, but we’ve also connected with other homeschooling families in our area and we are also building an online friendship group with children of similar age who are also homeschooling,” said Gordon.
“I’ve found the transition to homeschooling to be truly positive, and even for myself the learning continues. My French has improved as has my Maths. It’s actually a thoroughly enjoyable experience for both of us.”