Jax blogs at http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup about life raising her three children, Big, Small and Smallest. At age 11 and nearly 8, Big and Small are home educated, and it’s likely Smallest will be too. You can also find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/liveotherwise . Jax was kind enough to write this post to share with you all the benefits of home education.
I meet a lot of ppl who don’t know the basic facts about home education. Which isn’t surprising. The norm in this country is that children go to nursery and they go to school. They start some form of childcare usually by age 3, and school just follows on naturally from that.
It doesn’t have to. There are a growing number of children who have never been to school – some may have been to nursery, some won’t, and that’s fine, because there’s lots of different ways to do this.
The first thing to be aware of is that home education is totally legal in this country. If your child has never been signed up for a school place, you don’t need to do anything about it – you just continue down the merry path of life, with education arranged how you see fit. I’ll come back to that in a moment. If, however, you did apply for a school place or your child has attended school and then you decide home education is the way to go, you need to deregister. That means sending or taking a letter in to school asking for your child’s name to be removed from the register – the headteacher/ owner then has ten days to do this and must inform the local authority. You don’t have to get in touch with the local authority at all.
Now, that education as you see fit. The law in England is set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996:
‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.’
So, there’s no mention of national curriculum, or education between certain hours of the day or even on certain days of the week. There aren’t any tests to take, the parent doesn’t need to have teaching qualifications, and there are no hoops to jump through. Your local authority can make informal enquiries if it appears to them that no education is taking place, but they should accept evidence in written form if you prefer not to meet with them.
Which all means that you, the parent, decide what is a suitable education for your child, and you get on with it.
Sounds a bit scary in some ways, doesn’t it? It’s not though. I mean, no one told you when or how to teach your child to walk, did they? And I doubt that you gave them lessons as such. You showed them how to do it, by walking. You gave them space and time. And you held their hands as they started taking their first few steps. And before you knew it, they were running.
Most early skills at least are very similar. If you give your child space, encouragement and resources, they will pick up what they need to. Even, in many cases, things like reading. Some children will need more help than others, but when it comes right down to it, most of them will get there in the end. And you’ll get to be there every step of the way.