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Home education: what could it offer your child?

Mum and child working at computer together
Why do parents choose home education for their children and what are the benefits of this type of education? Find out here.

It is estimated that around 50,000 families in the UK have opted to home educate their children, including mother of two, Beverley Riley. “The decision we made to home educate our children is a decision that we continue to uphold because we observe with delight the development of our children, not only from an academic stand point, but also on an emotional, social, practical, and spiritual level.”

Ben and Hannah Riley (10 and 12) appear to be happy, well-rounded individuals. Both are keen musicians – Ben on the drums and Hannah on the piano. They meet up with similar aged children each week, while also meeting once a month with a home education group for various activities.

Why choose home education?

According to Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS) the most common reasons for a parent to choose home education are:

  • Their child has problems with the school environment, e.g. bullying
  • Their child refuses to attend school
  • They failed to get their child into the school of their choice or they live too far away from a suitable school
  • The child learns differently to the norm, or has a learning difficulty or disability
  • They have philosophical issues with the way education is carried out in schools
  • They believe they can do a better job of educating their children than schools
  • They have religious or cultural emphases that they want their children to inherit
  • They enjoy life together as a family and want to minimise separation – especially while the children are young

Home educated children

Clearly an individual education would suit a child who does not ‘fit’, but will it help them to fit in later on in life?

Beverley Riley’s children are clear testaments to the claims by home educators that their pupils are generally very sociable, confident and outgoing young individuals. Home educated children are strongly encouraged to take up hobbies in order to satisfy their social needs. As a result many friendships are born out of common interest rather than dictated by age and gender.

Cathy Koetsier of HEAS also believes that home education will stand children in good stead for future employment: “Home educated children tend to have plenty of contact with people in a real ‘living’ context. They accompany their parents on shopping expeditions. They are exposed to and interact with adults whose work and interests may be very stimulating and useful for their development.”

Home education: the financial implications

Perhaps the biggest potential drawback for parents considering home education is the cost, as there is at present no form of financial aid. That said, there’s a lot of potential to save money, too, not having to shell out for uniforms, bus passes, lunch money and so forth.

Home education: next steps and further information

It will be years before we can gauge the effects of home education on individuals as they move into adulthood. In the meantime, however, home education is getting more popular in the UK, and the current crop of graduates appears to be upbeat, outgoing and ready to take on the world.

For detailed advice about all aspects for home education, from the local legalities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the challnges of home-educating siblings of different ages or a child with special educational needs, look through the articles on TheSchoolRun's Home education hub.

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