If you’re thinking of homeschooling your child, or just providing more educational support for your child at home, here are our top 15 ways to start educating your kids at home. There is lots to take into account and you will need to prepare in advance, but take our advice and you could be educating your kids at home in no time at all.
Before we start, let’s take a look at what educating at home actually is and why people choose to do this.
What is home education?
Home education is when a child is educated at home rather than at school. However, for the purpose of this article, we’re also talking about providing additional educational support to your child if they are in a school environment too, to help them reach the pinnacles of success. It’s perfectly legal to educate your child at home and you don’t need to be a qualified teacher to do so, which let’s face it many of us are not.
Children who are home educated generally receive all their education from their parents or carers, sometimes with the help of outside tutors. If you decide to home educate your child you don’t have to follow formal rules about how you teach or when you teach. If you are providing additional support for your child’s education, then you can set the pace and create study materials that you really think will work for your child. This is why we’ve put together our top 15 ways to start educating your kids at home, so that you are fully informed and know exactly what to expect and what to do.
In many ways home education is a continuation of the teaching that every pre-school child receives from his or her parent or carer. But from a certain age, education is a legal requirement, so if you choose to home educate after this age you need to plan extremely carefully. You need to find out what age education becomes legal where you live. Of course supporting your child in their studies will require a different level of planning as you need to become fully aware of what they are learning at school and make it come alive for them.
Why do people choose home education?
When we talk about home education or homeschooling, some people know from an early stage that they want to educate their child at home. They may have philosophical or religious reasons for this. Or they may have been home educated themselves or raised in situations in which education wasn’t focused on a traditional school environment – for example their parents may have travelled a lot.
In other cases a child may start off in school but later be taken out and educated at home. The reasons for this vary – a child may have special needs or be unhappy at school in some way. Sometimes parents feel that the methods of teaching in school aren’t right for their child and that they can provide a better education for them at home.
Another reason could be that parents sometimes home educate because they can’t get a place for their child in a school of their choice.
If you’re supporting your child’s studies while they attend school you will also find these 15 ways to start educating your kids at home interesting and relevant to what you need to do and prepare for.
Did you know that in the UK 50,000 kids are being home educated and that number is rising by 80% each and every year? That’s astounding. Never has home education been so popular and growing at these substantial figures.
The staggering increase means that a wide variety of parents are turning their back on traditional schooling and going their own way or even spending a lot of time supplementing their child’s schooling career.
There are two main types of home educators – radical unschoolers, who follow the child’s lead, and regular homeschoolers, who follow a curriculum at home. Here we’ll take a look at 15 ways to start educating your kids at home and how to make a success of it at the same time. This will help you to make an informed choice about which way to go…do you home school full time or provide a stronger support system for your child who does attend school.
A lot of it is trial and error, based on your own family’s likes and dislikes. Every homeschooler you talk to will give you a different version of how it works for them – you really just have to work out for yourself what will suit your family.
Homeschooling or home educating is not for every family. But every parent is a home educator.
Here are our top 15 ways to start educating your kids at home and make it a roaring success story!
1. Create the Right Environment
This is extremely important. If you are home educating your child, there needs to be a set space that is for study alone. It should be free of distractions, inspiring and conducive to learning. Invest some money into great educational toys that will only enhance their learning experience and bring subjects to life, engaging them in their learning process.
2. Get Buy In
If you’re going to take them out of mainstream schooling or place more emphasis on educating at home, then you need to get them on board with the idea. If they aren’t on board, you’re going to struggle with them. Explain the reasons that home educating is important and how they will benefit from it and no doubt you will get their buy in! After all which kid loves going to school every day? We don’t know too many that’s for sure!
3. The World is Your Classroom
This really is one of the best parts of home educating your child. The world is your classroom and it is filled with amazing treasures to find and teach. You are no longer restricted to sitting at a desk and working through workbooks.
One of the major mind-changes that homeschooling involves, is that you begin to think of ‘everything’ as educational. Almost everything we do involves some skills – thinking, reading, acting, etc. Stop seeing the tiny list of ‘curriculum subjects’ as the only areas of your life that are ‘educational’. Think about where you can go, who you can see and what you can do that would open up new horizons for your child. Is it visiting the fire department, going to local museums, hitting the library or just heading outdoors to spend some time in nature? You will be amazed at what you can learn.
Having conversations with your child is a great way to open doorways and let knowledge flow. Having conversations with your child really contributes to their learning, and you need to learn the art if you’re going to be educating them at home. Dialogue works in more structured learning environments and they work just as well in home education too. You can deal with any problems as soon as they arise by having a conversation with your child. However, informal conversations are the best way to go, adding to their knowledge banks in their brains.
Having a conversation with your child is like opening a door in their mind.
5. Be Aware of Questions
A great way to get your kids educated at home is to pick up on their questions. A study was done which showed that four-year-olds just starting school asked their mothers on average twenty-six questions an hour, but they only asked two questions an hour of their teachers. Of those questions that were asked at school, a much smaller proportion were ‘curiosity’ questions and ‘Why?’ questions, and a much larger proportion were ‘business’ questions of the ‘Where is the glue?’ type than was the case at home. ‘Challenges’ were very rare at school, and intellectual searching was absent completely. If your child is asking you questions you know that they’re interested in something, so pick up on it and answer them. Remember not to overload them with too much information so their heads are spinning – just give them a small answer and see if they ask more.
6. Be Fexible
When you’ve decided to home educate your kids you probably have a good idea in your mind of how things should go, but as with life, not everything always goes to plan. It will take trial and effort and you will eventually find what works for all of you. Don’t force it, it will come.
7. Follow your Child’s Interests
Before you get started think about what your kids would like to study. Look around you for inspiration like books, movies and a couple of field trips as well as taking their ideas into account. In this way you’re giving them lessons that will really stick and resonate with them. Here is a good example how one homeschooling family does this well.
8. Read Aloud
You’ve no doubt heard this before but when you’re educating your kids at home, reading aloud is critical. Story time is one of the most beneficial things you can do with your children. Books expand their minds and experiences. And snuggling up to read a book together makes for some great family bonding time.
9. Trust Your Feelings
No-one knows your family better than you. Don’t let anyone tell you how to homeschool or educate your kids at home. If things don’t feel right, then make changes – and don’t worry if your solution is different to everybody else’s. Even when you are first getting started with homeschooling, you can be confident. You DO know what to do so just trust in yourself and it will work out!
10. What do you want to Learn?
This might sound strange, but you are also part of this home educating journey too and there might be things that you want to learn as well. Try and incorporate these into your learning with your kids and see where it takes you!
11. Minimise Memorisation
Often in mainstream schooling there is a big focus on learning by memory. This shouldn’t be the case if you’re educating your kids at home. Whether you’re homeschooling or helping them with their homework, explain the how and why so that they can fully understand it and make sense of it. It’s more important to know how to find an answer than to know one. Let your kids also do some of their own research if you’re homeschooling or helping with homework by looking on the internet to find the answers to those burning questions they might have.
12. Encourage Mistakes
Kids should always be taught how to double-check their work, however there will still be mistakes and that’s how we all learn. Encourage them to try new things when you’re learning at home, even if they don’t know the answers but they’ve tried their best, that’s good enough!
13. Help with Homework
Having a quick cursory glance over at homework is not enough. You should sometimes sit down with your child and watch how they do things – how they read, how they make maths calculations or organises essays. Talk to them about what they’re doing and understand how he gets to his answers. This is a great way to find any problems and address them immediately.
14. Think Long-Term
Never ever think that one bad grade or failed test is going to make or break your child’s academics. There will be failures but it’s important to talk about them. Keep perspective and rather encourage them as opposed to focusing on that bad grade they got. You want to be the person who encourages lifelong learning and a love of it too.
15. Watch your Child
If you’ve started out on your educating at home journey then it’s important to watch your kids. Watch them playing or just hanging out with their friends. Do they seem happy? Do they seem confident? Do they have a healthy self-esteem? If you can answer yes to all of the above, then you know that it’s working for you as a family.
Make no mistake educating at home can be hard, and it will take trial and error to get the right balance. There is no one size fits all. However, if you follow our 15 ways to start educating your kids at home advice you’ll be up and running sooner than you think.