What does Home Education look like?

November 16

If you are considering home education, you might be wondering what exactly it entails. What do home educating families do all day?

The answer is, there is no simple answer. Home education is an opportunity, it isn't a specific thing. So if you ask what home ed looks like, you will get lots of different answers in reply. 

Home education is flexible and adaptable. It is a very agile model for education which can be responsive to the seasons and the weather that day, the interests of the family members, their ages, developmental stages and needs, and to what is going on in the wider world. With home ed, everything is potentially up for grabs, no subject matter or topic is off limits, there are no time restrictions and the world really is your oyster.

In practical terms, what does it look like? For many families, learning via home ed means learning through life and exploration - some may call that ‘play’. Some families spend some time each day to sit down and do specific things, other families go totally with the flow and allow things to unfold. Many do a combination of the two.  

As is stated in the Herts County Council information on elective home education for parents, “parents do not need to follow the National Curriculum…(Herts County Council) values varied and flexible types of educational activity and parents may choose to make informal provision that responds to the developing interests of their child and fits in with their particular lifestyle… Parents need to provide a full-time education but they do not need to follow a timetable or have fixed times during which education will take place. At home, education need not follow school hours or term times as contact time is often almost continuous and opportunities for learning can rise at any time.”

Home educating parents and their children can be in an on-going conversation and partnership with each other. This provides the opportunity for a very authentic learning experience that changes and evolves over time. Some families have found the Finnish model manifests within their home ed in line with their children’s natural developmental stages, with a very informal approach up until the age of around 7 years, with children then expressing an intrinsically motivated desire to spend some of their time working in a more focused/structured way. 

The label ‘home education’ is somewhat misleading, as often a lot of time is spent outside the home and with other home educating families. In our local home ed community it is normal for there to be multiple events every week, often something on every day, ranging from library meet ups to woodland exploring, visits to museums and other places of interest, philosophy workshops, book groups and World Explorers, our weekly creative play session. Families also join events organised outside our immediate community, recently that has included a fossil dig with a palaeontologist, forest school type activities and visits to Legoland.

If you would like to find out more about educational philosophies relating to home education, try Googling ‘unschooling’, ‘Montessori’ and ‘Charlotte Mason’ for a range of views. Google ‘deschooling’ to find out more about the transition from school based education to home ed - home ed is a learning journey for parents too. Richard Branson once said, “I don’t think of work as work and play as play, it’s all living.” This is an idea that resonates with many home educating parents in regards to education and learning. It’s easy to get overly complicated about education, but what home ed boils down to is a trust in children’s curiosity and ability to learn, and parents and the wider community supporting them in that.

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