The Truth about Home Schooling

What’s been said?

After weeks of negative spin regarding HE, it was good to find more positive reporting in the Telegraph on 19th July. The on line version is headlined, “The truth about home schooling – and why more of us than ever are doing it” and the print one, “Why you shouldn’t dismiss home schooling out of hand”.

Opening with her own short-lived experience of HE for her 6 yr old daughter until a primary school place became available, Cristina Odone then cites reasons why home education “is today an increasingly popular trend”, noting in particular the avoidance of exam-related stress and a greater awareness of children’s mental health issues.

Odone detects a trend here; “Worried parents are taking the matter into their own hands – and their children out of mainstream schools.” Other home educating parents are quoted: Briony Mackie, describing herself as having “pretty conservative views on everything” and the new wave as “unashamedly middle class” said, “When it comes to schooling my children, I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all system”; while Olivia Lowe opined, “the most important principle of home schooling is ‘bespoke’.”

Odone admitted to initial misgivings that home-schooling was for “religious fanatics who wanted to keep the twenty-first century at bay” but by the end of her research and brief personal encounter with it, her article concludes quite positively. Isolation does not have to be a problem since “children can connect in a million ways” in an internet age, and a professor of English at Oxford University had found home educated young people to be “very impressive”, commenting, “They tend to be autodidacts and very independent minded, and they also tend to be emotionally resilient.”

Why does it matter?

In an ideal world few of us would choose to start from the existing position of hostility and negative spin when it comes to making a case for HE to those who know little about it.

But given the prevailing climate, this piece is a good reminder of some of the plus points and reasons why many of us opted for HE, and as such it can refresh our motivation and highlight the key issues.

What can I do?

Consider a two-pronged strategy:

  • Work hard at correcting wrong impressions of HE

Sometimes we may need to start by dismantling erroneous impressions which people have picked up about HE through what they’ve read or heard. The Americanism “home schooling” may have left some with the idea of a school in the home model. Even the inclusion of the word “home” in “home education” can leave some thinking of those poor children who are in the house all the time, invisible and isolated from society.

  • Demonstrate the positives by word and example

Can we come up with another descriptor to convey some of the following in a positive way?

Parents (not the state) have primary responsibility in matters regarding their children’s education. (This applies to all parents, although many are unaware of any other option than school).

Elective HE is a perfectly viable and legitimate alternative to SE (state education) or PE (private education).

One-size-fits-all education does not suit every child. HE is adaptable to individual needs.

Bespoke education can be facilitated by ordinary parents because they have that pre-existing relationship with their children and the motivation to go on an educational journey together.

Living life together enables you to make the most of every opportunity, equipping children with useful skills for their future lives as they mature and discern their areas of interest.