October 21, 2014

Thinking of home education? Your main questions answered

 

home education home educating homeschooling homeschool

 

We have had so many queries from people wanting to find out more about home education that I thought it might be easier to put a reply on here.

If any other home educators would like to add anything please do. As we know, there is no right or wrong way to home educate but a million different ways! I have also addressed 10 Myths of Home Education to tackle some of the general (and incorrect) concerns that people have with regards to home ed. With as many of us sharing, guiding and encouraging, hopefully we can reassure anyone at all that they too can do it.  And if you are someone considering it or would like to know more please do email or leave a comment below.

 

Here is a copied and pasted reply:

You don’t need to follow any kind of curriculum or structure at all when you home educate. Some people take an autonomous approach, by which they pretty much follow whatever a child is interested in and take opportunities as they present themselves throughout a day. So for example, a walk in the park might lead onto a discussion about the flowers, which leads onto learning about photosynthesis, where you can then go and grow a plant and learn about it, or grow a plant which is also food, then cook it, and then write about it e.t.c.  You see how one simple thing can lead onto learning in different ways without actually feeling like learning?!

OFSTED have no involvement and neither do the local authority. They might ask to see you or your child’s work but they actually have no right to do so, and you have every right to refuse. I only ever had one visit way back when I first removed Stephanie from Junior school nine years ago. It was during the summer holidays and he didn’t want to see any of her work or even see her!  He was actually quite supportive and told me how they would prefer that a child received at least an education in Maths, English, some science and IT.  Anyway, they nor anyone else has any say in how, why, or where you choose to home educate.

There are no SATS, no curriculum you must follow (the decision to buy any workbooks or curriculums at all is completely up to you), no tests – not even workbooks if you don’t want them – it is completely and entirely up to you what you do and don’t do.

I found autonomous learning worked fine when I only had one child to home educate but when it came to jumping in and committing to home edding all my children I decided I wanted more structure. I certainly couldn’t research and plan several different subjects for different ages and abilities whilst also running a home, a large family and two businesses, so we buy in our curriculum from TEACH.

Curriculums are so hard to come by in the UK and I’ve yet to find a decent (and not extortionate) alternative that doesn’t need shipping in from the US.  It is the ACE curriculum so it’s Christian-based although nothing too heavy really. I’d be happy to show some examples to anyone interested.  The subjects include Maths, English, Science, Social Studies, Bible, Word
Building (spelling) and Literature & Creative Writing.  You don’t have to do them all, in fact you can pick and choose. It’s recommended that your child does 12 books in each subject per year so if the approximate cost per workbook is £3 plus £2 for the score key (answer book) you’re looking at about £500 per year for first child. You’d only need to buy the workbooks for subsequent children as the score keys can be kept and re-used.

The books are well laid out and self-explanatory. If your child can read they pretty much get on with it and only need your input if they need something explaining in further detail, so you don’t need to be sitting with them constantly. It also encourages a child to become good self-learners and researchers, and to think independently - skills not really encouraged by schools!

The children have ‘goal cards’ which is a week’s timetable. On each day they’ll set their ‘goals’ which are the number of pages they’ll do
in each subject.  For example, on Monday they may set pages 4-6 in Maths, 5-8 in English, 4-6 in Science etc. Once they’ve done their set pages they cross it off their goal card and write down the page numbers (goals) to do the following day.  At the end of each book is a ‘Self Test’ which goes over what the child has been learning in the book.  If they pass the Self Test they then go on to do the PACE test the following day.

If you like your child can continue onto the higher level through which they can gain a certificate of education which is the equivalent
to GCSEs and accepted at Universities worldwide.  They can finish on a
number of different levels from foundation GCSE equivalent, to intermediate, to higher, to a-level or uni entry level. You can find
out more about it at http://www.christian-education.org/.

If you don’t want a Christian curriculum you could consider getting some CGP books or workbooks by Letts or similar, and doing it in the same way of setting x amount of pages per day or even y allowing your child to pick them up as and when they feel.  We are considering switching this ourselves as, though the ACE curriculum is good and well laid out, the service – we’ve found – is very questionable.

We’re normally done with workbooks by lunchtime so afternoons are free and flexible for anything else they want to do… or not!  So even if they want to play in the garden all afternoon or we head off to the beach in the summer while everyone else is in class and at work we can!

I’ve rounded up the most popular posts regarding home education from our site, where I cover things from why we decided to home educate, our verdict four years on, home education and socialisation, and why the education system doesn’t actually work for a child’s benefit as it should.  You may be interested in reading these posts especially if your child is creative.

I hope I’ve covered everything but if you do have any more questions please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to help.  You can email me at family@largerfamilylife.com with any questions or leave a comment below.

 

Since writing this post we have changed the curriculum we use, finding ACE no longer suitable for us. See our reasons why we switched and what we changed to here. 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Alexandra says:

    Hi Tania,
    What I enjoy about home educating my large family is that it is tailored to my children’s needs and wants. School was so limiting for them. When I started home educating I was very structured with the lessons, it took me a while to realise I didn’t have to be running a mini school. Now I’m much more flexible, we don’t have set times or days for ‘lessons’, it’s very relaxed, a lot more fun and my children are now way ahead academically than other children their age. I don’t buy any curriculums, we buy some work books from WHSmith and learn from many of the books we already have around our home. I love the fact that my children also have plenty of time to explore their creative and spiritual sides too.
    Alexandra
    By the way, I really enjoyed seeing your family on 4OD again this year, you’re inspiring. I love the way you follow your own path and fully realise that you’re living this life for yourself, not society and its expectations.

    • I think it’s difficult to get out of a ‘school mindset’ when you first start home educating, isn’t it? You tend to think that if the children aren’t doing six hour days with workbooks and tests, then they can’t be learning. It takes a while to realise that they learn in so many different ways – and often without a workboo or test in sight!

      Thank you for your lovely words. Yes, it is our life, and we want to live it our way. As long as we still have values and morals, who’s to really care?

  2. lyns110craft says:

    We love the curriculums from the States. We use Maths u see, story of the world, simple schooling projects and hands of a child lap books. We are child led so they chose what they want to learn about and we find that subject either from Hands of a child or they make their own lap books or projects. They also chose to do Cgp books. We also do plenty of activities with the local home ed group. Plus they do the normal extra curricular activities.

  3. The Beesley Buzz says:

    We found it to be the only option available to our ASD son as having tried two schools – it just didn’t work out. We tend to use schofield & sims workbooks, but try to be flexible in what we do and be led by the kids. So if they decide to write a comic one day or do some art work one day, then i remind myself that they are still learning and that we can catch up with workbooks another time.

    It is amazing how just a few hours homeschooling can cover so much compared to the whole day at school. I remember one morning the kids were up early and started on their school work by about 6am and we totally done by 9am (when most kids would barely be at school) so we had a nice day out for the rest of the day.

    I’ve just recommended your website to someone considering homeschooling as it really gives such insight and inspiration – thank you so much for all you do! xxx

    • The time thing is such a huge advantage! We start early too, and are normally finished by 11am or lunch time. It’s fantastic – especially in the summer when we can just go and enjoy the nice weather (when we have it, that is!)

      Thank you for recommending the site and it’s always a pleasure to help if we can. Thank you, too, for your kind words – much appreciated!

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