How To Do It?
The best way to start is to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
- What in your view is a good education?
- How does this apply to your individual child?
- What are your child’s interests, aspirations and learning preferences?
If your child is not yet compulsory school age and is still at home with you, starting home educating is simple – carry on as you have been. If you already read to your child, visits libraries, do arts and crafts, sing songs, help them form letters, bake, go for nature walks, meet up with friends, join groups, go on visits, find resources to feed your child’s interests, talk lots, answer your child’s questions etc, you can just keep going.
As your child develops, your interactions and level and use of resources will become more advanced. You can adopt your educational provision to your growing child’s needs and get ideas from different educational philosophies and methods.
If your child is older and/or coming into home education from being at school, you need to be aware that there are many different valid ways of providing your child with a suitable education. You can follow the school model if you wish. However, there are many other options open to you and when starting out it is a good idea to learn about these as one or a mix of them maybe more suitable for your child. These options often referred to as philosophies; they are the principles which guide the style of education provided. These tend to be either structured or unstructured in their approach. Here are a couple of good post as an introduction to educational philosophies and methods.
Many home educators take bits and pieces from different philosophies and mash them together creating an eclectic provision. A common approach to start with is to do some formal structured work in the mornings and then activities which follow the child’s interests in the afternoon in a more informal way.
How do we start?
How do we home-educate?
There are many different ways to home-educate, ranging from school-at-home (complete with workbooks and chalkboards) to autonomous (child or interest-led) education. Most families probably fall somewhere in-between. You can use workbooks or not, have formal lessons or not… it’s entirely up to you. Many families find that their children need a period of no formal lessons when they first come out of school, as a time to adjust. This is well-recognised and is known as deschooling.
Must we keep to school hours or terms?
No – your family can learn in whatever way suits you all best, and at the times which suit you all best.
Do we need to follow the National Curriculum or teach specific subjects?
No. You may wish to follow the Manx Curriculum (or the National Curriculum for England and Wales, which is largely the same, is more readily-available on-line, and has many more workbooks etc written for it), but there is no requirement to do so.
Some home-educating families follow it, some use it as a rough guide, and some see it more as a restriction than a help. How you use it is entirely up to you. Many home-educators don’t think of learning as a series of acadmic subjects at all.
How can I teach my children a subject I know nothing about, or one I’m no good at?
Don’t worry – there are lots of ways to deal with this situation!
To begin with, many home-educating parents find they learn alongside their child. As children get a little older, they’re usually very capable of finding for themselves the resources and support they need in order to study a particular subject or topic. And home-educating doesn’t mean that you have to do everything – you can use the expertise you’ll find all around you.
Use libraries as much as you can – librarians are often delighted to find a child with a strong interest in something. Maybe a grandparent is knowledgeable about maps and map-making and would be glad to share that knowledge. Maybe there’s a neighbour who’d be willing to talk with your child about aerodynamics…
Whatever the topic, there’s almost always someone to turn to, and people are usually delighted to have the opportunity to share their expertise and enthusiasm with an interested learner. Visits to places like the Manx Museum, the House of Mannanin, Peel Castle and Castle Rushen are wonderful ways to learn history.
There’s a wealth of knowledge out there, and you can tap into it.
How will I know whether my child is learning?
You will know, because you’ll see it. You knew when they learned to walk and talk – it will be the same with algebra and photosynthesis.
The time you spend with your child will make it clear that they’re learning – and you’ll easily see too what they’re having difficulty with. You’ll be talking to your child and he’ll tell you all about what makes that trail in the sky behind a jet-plane. Or he’ll start counting how many syllables there are in words as you drive along in the car. Or he’ll tell you about how children used to have to go out to work when they were only 9 or 10 years old. Or how gravity is the reason people in Australia don’t fall off the world. All of those examples come from my own family – without us ever having covered any of those subjects formally.
All you have to do is be there and willing to listen.
Is home-education expensive?
It can be as expensive as you want to make it.
You can spend a small fortune on supplies – and many home-educators do, when they first start out. (It’s good advice to buy only what you need at first, rather than everything that looks good.)
There are also lots of free resources available – for example, librarians are usually helpful and there’s a wealth of resources on the internet.
How will I find the time to home-educate?
Home-education does take up time, there’s no denying it – but not nearly as much as people usually think.
If you’re home-educating more or less autonomously, you’ll be learning through living – you won’t have school to babysit for several hours a day, of course, but you adapt.
Even if you’re home-educating in a very formal way, doing school-at-home, you’ll be able to cover the work much more quickly than a teacher in a classroom situation: you’re working closely with a small number of children and can immediately see if they understand a concept and change how it’s being presented if they aren’t.
There’s no time spent lining up to get in or out of the classroom, waiting for other children to finish, handing out books and homework papers, going to assembly or lunch or a hundred other school-based distractions.
Where can I find educational supplies?
You can buy some books, such as those in the Letts range, from bookshops or stationery shops. You can also buy workbooks from companies like CGP or Schofield and Sims. Opitec is wonderful for all sorts of paper and arts and crafts supplies, and School Surplus often have amazing deals on offer.
What about exams? Can my children take GCSEs or A-levels? What if they want to go to university?
Home-educated children can sit GCSEs or A-levels as external candidates, through correspondence courses, or by going through a local college.
Many home-educated children take one or two GCSEs at a time, rather than a whole bunch in one year, or they bypass GCSEs altogether and go straight to A-levels. Some don’t do GCSEs or A-levels but are offered college places or apprenticeships based on their experience and skills, and some study through the Open University.
We know of several home-educated students from the Isle of Man who have gone on to university. Many home-educators have found that universities are more interested in a student who’s been home-educated, because they’re used to working with less supervision and because they’ve had a wider range of experiences than most school-attending children. In North America, some of the top universities actively recruit homeschooled students, because they’ve had such positive experiences with them. Home-educating certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get formal qualifications.
Through our groups page you will be able to find other parents who have helped their children through this, and get advice and support.