This article first appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition of Salad Days
There are as many reasons as to why people decide to home educate as there are families home educating. Each family comes to the decision in their own time, and in their own way. Some families realise that home education is right for them before their children are school age, or even preschool age, others enter the school system and later decide that home ed is a better route for them.
We didn’t start out thinking we would home educate, but as our children approached school age and we researched and thought critically about the education system and how they would experience it, the more we looked for an alternative.
This led to us exploring how children learn and thrive without school, and gave us the confidence to create the opportunity for them to pursue their education outside of the classroom. Dissatisfaction with the existing education system is one of the most common reasons given by families for their decision to home ed.
For one local parent, key to their decision making was their desire to give their child the opportunity and freedom to continue exploring the world around them with the self-directed curiosity and enthusiasm that they had shown since birth. Why disrupt something that was already happening naturally?
Another family initially planned to home educate until their children were 7 years old, but observing how it had given them the time and space to develop, learn and grow, at their own pace and around the things that most interested them, decided to make it a long term plan.
‘Too much too soon’ was another reason given by parents – concern that formal learning starts too young. England has one of the youngest school starting ages in Europe, three years earlier than in Finland, for example, a country renowned for one of the most successful, progressive and learner focused education systems in the world.
Some families come to home educate because of their children having had negative experiences in school, whether that be bullying, inadequate support, or just that a traditional school environment is an uncomfortable fit.
The stress and restriction of standardised testing and assessment, seen by many parents and teachers as counterproductive to learning, was another reason given for opting to home ed. Through home education children are free to be themselves, and to be treated as individuals – they can pursue their own unique path to educational success.
Local parents also mentioned the opportunity home education offers in regards to respecting children’s rights, particularly children’s right to have their views and feelings listened to and taken seriously. Home education allows the best interests of the children to be prioritised above any other agenda.
With a thriving local home educating community, the option to home educate is more accessible than ever before. Families can decide to home educate knowing that they will be able to spend their time with other home educating families, that their children will be able to socialise with children of a range of ages, and participate in regular activities and events. Families have the opportunity to contribute their own creativity and skills to building a fantastic educational experience for their children.