Is home schooling right for my family?

There are lots of reasons why you might be considering home schooling. Switching to home education is not an easy or quick decision to make. You will need to think about the impact on your child, yourself and your family.

Below is a checklist to make sure you’ve considered all the potential pros and cons when deciding.

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Is home schooling right for my child?

Potential advantages:

  • You set the pace. Working one-to-one enables you and your child to set the pace of learning. This means they are less likely to get bored, fall behind or not reach their true potential.
  • It can be flexible. Learning does not have to purely be “traditional” classroom-based learning. It can mean exploring, cooking, outdoor learning, building things, trips to museums. You and your child can create the timetable, school hours and calendar based on what works for your child.
  • There is more creativity. Home schooling has more opportunity for play-based learning.
  • It can encourage bonding. Some children may struggle with the change in your role from parent to teacher. But home school does mean you’re spending more time together. This can strengthen your family bond.
  • Increased child confidence. Your child will get the one-to-one support and positive attention they need to thrive. This can mean your child’s motivation and confidence grows.
  • The right atmosphere can help children with special educational or additional needs (SEN). Home schooling in the right environment can reduce anxious feelings. You can tailor it to your child’s strengths and likes, and some children will find it less distracting. You can also have more breaks or shorter days to suit your child’s needs.

Potential disadvantages:

  • Having enough space. Do you have enough space at home to teach in and store all the equipment you need? Are you able to separate the home schooling space from the rest of the house at the end of the day? If not, how can you create a sense of separation between learning time and home time?
  • Missing socialising opportunities. Your child may have fewer friends. They will have limited opportunities to interact with other children. There will be fewer extra-curricular activities easily accessible. You could attend library events, children’s groups and sports clubs (often at a cost). These activities give your child the opportunity to develop social skills and make friends.
  • Lack of wider support. There is very little government or local authority support for home schooling parents. This can make it feel isolating at times.

Is home schooling right for me?

You also need to consider if you are comfortable and ready to take on home education. It’s a huge commitment from you. Here are some key things to think about:

  • Financial implications. The cost of resources, learning equipment and examinations can be expensive. You might need to go private for services which would usually be free through a school. If you need to give up a job or reduce your hours, you’ll need to take into account the loss of a salary.
  • Importance of routine. Having a routine is really important for learning. You will need to have back up plans for times when you are unwell. If you have multiple children, how would you handle one being ill? Plan how you would balance caring for one and teaching another.
  • Possibility of stress. Home schooling takes a lot of time and effort. You don’t have to follow the national curriculum but you will need to do all the extra work around teaching. This will include lesson planning, marking work, and creating teaching aids. This will add to your “to do” list and could be stressful.
  • Handling emotions. Feeling anxious is normal for both parents and children. You’ll need an adjustment period to smooth the transition from school to home education. Staying calm- ability to control frustrations. May receive unwanted opinions from others.

Is home schooling right for my family?

  • Teacher vs parenting role. It can be hard to swap between being your child’s teacher and their parent.  A good daily routine can help set learning and family time boundaries.  How would you respond if your child refused to study – would you respond as their parent or their teacher?  How would taking on this extra role impact on your family dynamics and relationships?
  • Time. Home schooling is a full time role. Time spent teaching is just one element. There is also time spent planning lessons, creating resources, marking work, and keeping records of progress. It is important to think about when you will have the time to do this. Consider how this will impact your family life balance.
  • Curriculum. There is no mandatory curriculum for home schooling. However, your child will need a similar knowledge base to school educated children. This is so that they can take national exams. It will also help them access higher education like university or specialist colleges. Are you confident in your knowledge and ability to teach a wide range of subjects? Will you be able to teach them to a level where your child can keep up with their school educated peers?
  • Read our article on preparing to start home schooling

I don't want to start home schooling but I still have concerns

You may have decided you don’t want to home school. If you still have issues about mainstream schooling, there are ways to address your worries:

  • Speak to the school to explain your concerns. It’s important the school knows if your child is having issues there. The school might have suggestions that help. Put your worries in an email and request a meeting. Depending on the issues, it might help to include the class teacher, the SENCo, the head of year or the head teacher. Prepare for the meeting by collecting supporting evidence of your concerns. Try to go into the meeting with an idea of what you would like to happen. You can always take a family member, partner, or friend to the meeting for support. They could take notes of the discussion and of any decisions you reach.
  • Speak to your child. It’s important that they feel included in the things that are happening and what is going on around them. Listen to how they feel. Keep their needs and wishes at the heart of your conversations and any decisions you make.
  • Talk to your GP. Depending on the issues, it may also be worth calling your child’s doctor. If there are emotional or behavioural issues, keep a behaviour diary and ask the school to do the same.
  • Work with an education welfare officer (EWO). Talk to your local authority attendance team or school about getting support from an EWO. An EWO aims to make sure that children and young people get the best possible education. They work with children whose education is affected by irregular attendance or absence from school. They will work closely with schools, pupils, and their parents and carers. They’ll assess the problems and look for possible solutions.
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