Home Education… How Hard Can It Be?

There are many reasons to love the public schooling system we are blessed with. Without it many children could go without receiving an education at all. These days it isn’t a question of if your child will attend school but which one?

Many people don’t realise that sending your child to school isn’t compulsory. An adequate education, one that prepares your child for modern life, is what is compulsory – NOT school. Whether you’re for or against home education there’s no denying that mainstream schooling isn’t for everybody and it is possible to teach your child at home.

I first started thinking about home educating when I was in refuge. Rhian had several months off school during that time. While it was agreed that switching schools was not in her best interest due to her extra needs nobody seemed that bothered about actually getting her to her existing school. In the entire time she had off, she probably had three worksheets sent home at the most. As our situation was so unsteady at the time I knew home education would be impractical. We were just left to it, everybody blaming somebody else.

My daughter – another box to tick? Free image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

After we moved back home, however, a very different tale ensued. For the first month as I was recovering from a severe sprain, the staff did the school run as I live very close to the school. When my foot recovered, things changed. Every time she was late, every time she was off ill I was questioned over. Yes, as a mother who was suffering depression and a child with special needs we found the transition hard. Every morning was a battle with Rhian crying to stay home and my request to break her in gently was ignored. It didn’t matter to them that she was bawling her eyes out, clearly distraught. She’s fine once she goes in, they’d say.

Although Rhian has settled now, I consider home educating more and more as time goes on. This seems to worry people. It will be a huge demand on your time. What about secondary school? You know, they’ll need to give you regular assessments. Given the position of these people, you’d think they would know what they’re talking about, right?

Wrong.

I’ve looked this up with the local council and spoken at length with people from the council and people who also home educate their children in the UK – it’s much more flexible than you’d think. Tests and assessments are not mandatory at all, neither is the national curriculum. You can teach whatever you like – you don’t need to plan formal lessons of any kind. Gone is the rigidity of the 9-3, no illness above 5% of the school year. In fact, there is no “school year”! If your child has a cold they can relax for the day and pick it up when they’re better. Yes, you have to provide some evidence of education but this can be done in a multitude of ways.

What this would mean for Rhian is an education built around her and her needs – NOT based on the curriculum her age-mates have to follow.

I have been offered the opportunity to “trial my lesson plan” in the six-week summer holiday. Rhian would sit a test before and after the holidays to see how she progresses, because “nobody wants to see Rhian suffer, do they?”.

Originally I thought this was kind but after reflection I must wonder how much of an idiot they think I am. None of what’s been offered is mandatory and nobody has a clue what’s going to be on this “test”. What am I supposed to make of this debacle?

Do you home educate your children? Did you de-register them or were they always home-educated? What did/would you do? I appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

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