A Teacher’s view of Home Education

“How can a parent/carer who is not qualified as a teacher educate children effectively?”

“How can ‘home education’ be justified?”

This is a brief description of what I have seen.

As a recently retired teacher of infant age school children, I was keen to find answers to these basic questions when I first met R at our local library, having learnt that she home educated her daughters.

Being welcomed into her home and meeting her two daughters whom she and her family home educated, made me re-evaluate and seriously question the values and beliefs I had held as a teacher in State schools for many years.

L and R’s learning is predominantly self-led, and as an Infant teacher, I know the real motivating value of this approach. Both girls are encouraged to pursue their personal interests, and these topics/ideas/questions are investigated through a variety of subjects and skills.

Support is sought when necessary through many avenues, including other children/adults, friends and family members who have valuable knowledge and skills to share, as well as consulting many educational websites. This self-led learning is supplemented by reading, writing, maths and science activities which are meaningful in the context of the topic. R is well aware of the wider curriculum, and areas such as Geography, History, Arts, Drama, R.E, P.E., Music and P.H.S.E. are integrated as appropriate.

L and R are frequently taken to experience practical activities in local (and not so local) venues such as Art Galleries, libraries, Museums, Sports grounds/halls and science investigation sessions at the city University, as well as Drama led group projects and P.S.H.E. based challenges.

“Where is the necessary social interaction?” is a question often asked; not only by myself but other adults and teachers.

The Home Education Group of which R and her family are members, meet regularly and the children have many opportunities to associate with and to learn with others of varying ages, interests and capabilities.

These frequent scheduled sessions involve real problem-solving challenges, and encourage collaborative as well as competitive interaction. The children experience organising their own groupings, making sure that everyone’s contribution is respected and each has a role within the group.

EXAMS… GRADES… LEVELS… RESULTS… QUALIFICATIONS…  PASS/FAIL…?

A good question; what about entry to 6th Form and other Colleges; what if they want to go to University?

Last September, L decided that she wanted to attend the local Secondary school. R helped her prepare for this by contacting one of the feeder Primary schools, and the Headteacher there agreed that L could participate in some of the final year after school activities so L got to know some of the children who would also be attending the Secondary school with her. Also, out of interest, R downloaded examples of the KS 2 SATs papers, and L completed these at home.

Her receiving teachers at Secondary school found it difficult to ‘grade’ L as there were no official KS2 results to accompany her, and there appeared to be a lack of administrative procedures  available to include her in the school’s data. Consequently,  due to lack of this ‘evidence’ and for many months, her abilities were assumed to be lower than they actually were.

Despite this, L has shown some excellent end of year exam/test results in most areas, furthermore, she has been identified as gifted/talented in some subjects! She is named as 3rd in her Year Group (out of more than 300 children) and is now placed in the top groups for maths, science and languages. She is outgoing and has many friends, and her self confidence and social awareness is evident in her enthusiasm for many out-of-school activities and clubs.

What a success story, well done L!

My long held assertion that school is the best/right/only place to learn how to be part of society and receive a ‘proper’ education has been shattered!

I see that Home Education clearly can produce children who are confident, can think critically, who care about and respect others, can make their own decisions, are motivated to ask questions, to pursue an idea and persevere, can collaborate and be creative…

… All power to Home Education!

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