Why Home Education Requires a Flexible Approach

Kate Shand, managing director of Enjoy Education, on why home education is more than a numbers (and spellings) game…

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The controversial consultation by the Department for Education (DfE) into compulsory registers of home schooled children has sparked a great deal of renewed interest in home-schooling.

The government maintains that the register is not intended to crack down on home educators, but to protect vulnerable children, addressing concerns about soaring numbers of children out of school, particularly those who have been ‘off-rolled’ or are attending illegal schools.

Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman highlights the Government’s key aims, stating: ‘These proposals offer an important opportunity to make sure that all children not attending school are safe and receiving an education that prepares them for adult life.’

But, while the Government rightly worries about children being short-changed by their education, many parents who have taken a more proactive decision to home-school their children wonder how to maximise the upside, not least when freed from the strictures of the national curriculum.

‘In the United States there is abundant guidance for home-schooling parents and educators, but these international templates are ill-suited for a direct transposition into the UK context’

In the United States there is abundant guidance for home-schooling parents and educators to help them design an intellectually and socially challenging curriculum. Frameworks like the Charlotte Mason Method, which encompass workbooks for maths and sciences as well as general principles of ‘good habits, great books and guided discover’, offer tried and tested models on which to structure home schooling programmes.

However, such models draw heavily from American history, geography and US cultural norms. Moreover, on closer inspection, many US home schooling structures reflect the prevalence of homeschooling for religious reasons – two thirds of American parents cited religion as a key motivation for educating their children outside of school according to the National Household Education Survey (2003 and 2007).

These international templates are therefore ill-suited for a direct transposition into the UK context, especially when we recall that beyond the question of how to structure and manage formal learning, one of the biggest opportunities – and challenges – that parents and educationalists working to design home-schooling programmes face is how to prepare students for the social, ethical and practical challenges life will later throw at them.

For UK parents considering home-schooling, far from being put off by the absence of a one-size-fits all approach, at Enjoy Education we believe this is in fact an advantage. When a child is not able to be in a formal educational environment, this can be replaced with a fresh framework tailored to the needs of each specific child.

Flexible ways of working with one-on-one or small group tuition allows for remarkably speedy academic progress in less time than classroom settings typically allow for, freeing up an abundance of time for sociable and experiential learning.

Sometimes, to capitalise on the exciting and transformative potential of home-schooling, we would do well to bear in mind the old saying: ‘Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.’

School Report: The Autumn Term Edition 2019

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