So, You've Decided To Home Educate, Where Do You Start?
Perhaps you've browsed our site and read our What is Home Educating? article and now you’ve taken the leap and decided to home educate. That's a big first step and it can be a relief but overwhelming at the same time.
Here are some ideas to help you get started.
- De-register your child(ren) from school – See our article on de-registration and our example de-registration letters. If your child(ren) has been attending school, then you need to de-register them before you can begin to home educate. Please note – the process for de-registration is different if your child attends a special school. If your child has not yet started school but you've accepted a school place for them, you'll need to inform them that you no longer require the place, usually by filling in a form that you can obtain from the local authority. There's no obligation for you to tell the local authority that you're about to start home educating; your only obligation is to inform the school, in writing. It is their responsibility, in law, to inform the local authority that the child(ren) has been removed from the school register. The LA may try to establish contact with you later on although, again, you are not obliged to be in contact with them or let them into your home – this is your choice. However, if the LA do contact you for information on your educational provision it is best to give them some information to satisfy them that an education is taking place. Get a receipt or confirmation that the school have received the de-registration letter. This helps eliminate any problems with them saying they haven’t received it. If your child has never been to school, then there’s no need to inform anyone that they will not be attending school.
- Have a period of De-schooling – This is for children that have previously been in school and is an opportunity for both the child(ren) and parents to get used to the new routine, break away from the school routine and start afresh. This period of de-schooling is particularly important if your child has had mental health problems or has suffered from bullying or school phobia for example. The amount of time you take will depend on your family’s circumstances but children who have been in school for longer will take a longer time to adjust.
- Work out what approach you'll take – Take time to decide what sort of structure your home education will have. (See our page on home education provision and writing a home ed philosophy.) Look carefully at what your child needs and discuss with them the sorts of things they would like to do. What books, subscriptions or websites will you be using and what will your home ed day look like? Every home educating family has their own approach so don’t feel like your approach has to look like anyone else’s and don’t feel that you must replicate school at home. That is the beauty of home education, you can tailor it individually to the children and around your whole family’s lifestyle and needs. The education could be anything from structured to autonomous or somewhere between. If an older child or teenager has ideas about a future career, consider any qualifications he might need, and how he might obtain them. If your child’s home education is temporary, you might want to stick to learning alongside the national curriculum so that they can maintain the pace for when they return to school.
- Join a local home education group – These groups can be absolutely invaluable for support, advice, local activities and get together's. It is a fantastic opportunity for home educated children to meet together. They can share local clubs, resources and ‘go-to’ places and there is bound to be someone who has lots of experience and lots of ideas. They are also great support if you are having any problems with a school or local authority.
- Take time to assess how your child learns - what is the best method for them? Do they prefer visual to written information? Or do they prefer books to using the internet? Does your child needs lots of guidance or do they like to work independently? This goes hand in hand with working out what approach you'll take to home education.
- Have some sort of diary or log book ready - to make a note of what you have been doing and what activities you are booked on. This can come in handy in the future if you have any involvement from the LA and for your own records so that you can look at progress and plan for the next year. You can also plan your time if you wish to and work out how your day will be structured.
- Ensure you have the basic resources – You do not need to spend lots of money on resources and subscriptions etc. but it’s good to make sure that you have the essentials. Paper, pens, somewhere to sit and study etc. Different families, as always, approach this in diverse ways so set things up how you want it and only buy the resources you can afford. Spend this early time hunting out free resources, second hand items or home education discounts. Speak to other home educators about resources they have found useful.
- Be flexible and be prepared to adapt – Your home education journey will evolve and change over time as well as grow with your child(ren) and how you do things will likely change over time. As you become more confidant and experienced you will adapt and develop new ways of doing things. You will also find that some things don’t work out or some methods just don’t work for your family – this is absolutely fine and nothing to worry about. Trial and error is sometimes an effective way to find what is best for you and your family.
- Talk to other parents who are or have home educated – This could be on social media, through forums or websites etc. You could talk to people in other areas and in other countries to get different perspectives and advice on how people do things.
- Remember – Anywhere can be a classroom – Learning opportunities don’t just take place indoors. Get out and about, get in touch with nature, let your children learn about the world around us. Museums and libraries make excellent ad hoc classrooms – but so do supermarkets and garden centres
If you have further questions why not visit our Frequently Asked Questions page