School has been a condition of our society for many generations, most parents wouldn’t consider another option. If they did, they might not think they were qualified enough to educate at home, it could be a struggle financially. Some families might think they couldn’t cope emotionally.
As a Mum who sent one son to school until he left aged 16, and took another out when he was 7. I thought it would be useful to compare School VS Home Educating.
Of course, this is just our experience and my opinions, so I understand it may be different for others. Situations and philosophies vary, from family to family.
I have listed points and would be happy for anyone to comment below, as the more experiences and insight on the subject, the best overview for parents who are looking into options.
Socialising and Friendships
A common misconception is that home educated kids don’t socialize.
At school, there are many children of the same age to pick a group, or at least one friend to hang out with. It just seems cruel to deny a child this opportunity of friendship and social development, doesn’t it?
Think about your own experience of socialization in school, was it as healthy as people pretend?
You only need to watch any film based in a high school. Everyone should fit into a box (emo, nerd, popular, ginger!) Everyone is given a label, and that label becomes their identity.
Gingers and Fat kids are classic bully bate. I remember refusing braces because I feared looking geeky, and the abuse I would receive. I was already Ginger after all! I didn’t want to give other reasons for ridicule. ( I wish I hadn’t worried, then my teeth would be straight!)
If children are only with their own age group all day, they become slightly ‘ageist’. It’s uncool to hang out with anyone in a younger year group. And all adults are alien authorities, that obviously don’t understand!!! That isn’t natural, and it isn’t good practice for healthy socialization outside of school.
I’ve noticed this doesn’t exist among home ed kids. They take care of the younger ones. There’s no power battles or personality rackets which are often developed for defense in school.
And oh… we socialize!! Some weeks it’s hard to find the time to do anything else because our diary is full of park meets, hall meets, and group visits and activities. It’s not just kids that make friends. The adults have developed good friendships too. We have a close community. There are loads of benefits to this, but I will save that for another post!!
Due to the popularity of home schooling now, every area in the UK is sure to have a local group. It’s great to meet up regularly and take it in turns to organize visits to museums, science centers etc, and we take advantage of group or school discounts.
The kids also make friends at other places. Neighbors, cousins, and at any sports clubs, dance classes, and so on.
Did you stop making friends or socializing once you left school….. I suspect not!
There is no doubt, if you send your child to school, you can be confident they will be receiving a form of education.
No effort required on your part, you don’t have to teach them anything. School has it covered!
If your child is ‘bright’ ( good memory!) they will have no problem absorbing all the information and regurgitating it well in exams.
Doesn’t suit all
However, too many children are a bit more creative and free spirited for this type of conformity and education.
They have other talents and interests, which aren’t discovered or nurtured. It’s easy to lose interest and become a ‘problem’ in class, and feel stupid or incapable.
This was me, my mind was, and is, far too day dreamy!! It’s only as an adult I’ve learned to focus and listen.
I was constantly being told off for chatting, and my school reports weren’t great.
School to me was boring, and I often faked being ill so I could skip classes or school altogether. And I used to bunk off, and forge a letter from my Mum…. ‘Jenna was absent from school yesterday, due to sickness’
Result of not being stimulated
I left school feeling stupid, and because I felt this way, I put no effort into my exams, I didn’t even show up for some. I left school with no GCSE’S.
I started reading books on subjects that gripped my interest, Suddenly, I found myself regurgitating my new discovered information to others.
I remember the light bulb moment when I realized I was intelligent after all. (I had a good memory for subjects I liked!)
It wasn’t long before I gained the confidence to enroll at college and study subject’s I was interested in.
It became a bit of an addiction for a while, I had a thirst for knowledge, and I even managed to get onto a HND without GCSE’S or A level!! Just pure enthusiasm!
Home educating can almost mirror school and be very structured, or not.
Every family we meet does it differently. Some are very structured and regimented, and other children are completely Unschooled.
Unschooled sounds neglectful on first hearing the expression, doesn’t it? But it’s just a more natural approach to education.
Unschooling doesn’t mean no learning, it just means no forced subjects, child led activities, and learning in life, instead of in the classroom.
Feeding natural curiosity
On a walk the other day, Otis (5) asked “how are butterflies made” so when we got home we watched a few YouTube video’s which showed the process from egg, to caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly. He learned this process is called Metamorphosis.
Afterward, I encouraged him to draw the cycle so we wouldn’t forget it, so he did and we put it in his scrap book.
A child naturally wants to learn and we guide them to walk, talk and eat as they naturally go through these processes in their own time. Unschooling is just a continuation of this, you follow their curiosity and interests, and you guide them through the process giving them more information or activities and opportunities to pursue it.
There are too many benefits to the child on this type of education for me to mention here, I will write another post with more info. One of the biggest benefits, is your child doesn’t lose their desire to learn, and their own talents and interests are nurtured.
Whatever you decide, there is no doubt your child will receive a form of education, whether it is the best style for their personality, only you can decide that. But please never feel you can’t teach your child just because you aren’t a qualified teacher, there is all the information you need at your fingertips, Google!!!
There is no better teacher for your child than you. Look how much you taught them before school age.
By the end of every school holiday, my Facebook news feed is crammed with Mum’s who can’t wait for their kids to go back to school. It’s a novelty the first few days, and then the kids get bored and the parents can’t stand having them ‘under their feet’ all day!!
Now I do remember feeling a bit like that. People always ask me now, ‘how do you cope having the kids all the time? I couldn’t do it!’ But it isn’t as bad as they think. Because our life isn’t structured the same.
When your child is at school, you are in a hurry to get them out the door in time, and when they come home, you are making dinner, tidying up and putting them to bed. There isn’t much quality time, and your relationship is built on stress, routine and duty. And you are used to having time to yourself to de-stress.
I lived that life for 12 years. These days, I no longer feel like I’m on some weird life treadmill living for the weekends.
Every single day is our own. We wake up naturally, do some yoga, and take our time to eat breakfast, and then second breakfast. We have learned how to fit well around each other,
( most of the time!! )
Our life isn’t stressful, so, we are better able to communicate and understand each other, because we have the time to.
This has been the most significant difference and huge benefit to this alternative way of living.
One of the biggest issues that dictates a family’s choice, is money.
This is where home educators have learned to be creative thinkers!
It is absolutely possible to home educate no matter what your financial situation, depending on how dedicated you are.
It’s most common that one parent will work full time, and another part time or not at all so to be able to have the children. Others work around each other, for instance one works in the day, and another will do a few night shifts.
Single parent families, tend to be the most creative and dynamic self employed people I know. Working around the children, online businesses or as a therapist from home. Where there is a will, there is a way!
There are probably more expenses to pay out if your child is in school. Uniforms, transport, lunches etc. I’m sure the list go’s on. When you home educate, you can eat simple and cheap, and all resources can be googled, or borrowed for free from the library. There are also many websites offering online lesson’s, learning activities and free print our worksheets. A great resource for this is https://www.bbc.co.uk/education
Exams and Further Education
A popular question I’m asked regularly, “what about GCSE’S?”
Well GCSE’S can be taken if you are home educated. You can apply to take just the exam at a school, education centre or colleges. Some colleges except children who are not in school, and prepare them for exams from age 14.
However, they are not strictly necessary.
It is true they are a popular way to assess a child’s capability for college entry or for first employment. But, if you didn’t attend school, there are other ways to prove ability.
I know home educated children who didn’t take exams, but have still managed to attend University.
One completed a one year Open University course, and that was proof enough. As I already mentioned, I left school with no GCSE’S and was able to talk my way onto a GNVQ at college, and the tutor was so impressed with me, he wrote a recommendation to the University.
At the end of the day, Colleges, Universities and employers just want enthusiastic, motivated and capable students/employees. are other creative ways to prove it.
Time to myself? Yeah right!
I demand a 20min walk alone with the dogs most mornings. It keeps me sane, as it gives my brain a chance to wake up and focus without smallsies distracting chitter chatter.
The rest of the day, I am all consumed in family life, learning activities and days out, home related chores and errands, all with a toddler in arm!
I love our home-schooling life, but not having time off, occasionally takes its toll and I have been known to just burst into tears from exhaustion. However, I am sure this is mostly due to still breastfeeding a 18month old who thinks it’s still ok to wake up for feeds as often as a new-born, as my bad days tend to occur after 3 nights of little sleep, or just before my period!
As long as I get a bit of time in the morning, and a bit of time in the evening to recharge, then I feel blessed and blissed to spend all the rest of my time with such perfect and entertaining company!
Check out this other post I wrote with a bit more info Free Time – Survival Tips
There is a huge control over families in the UK.
If your child is enrolled at school, you will be fined for going on holiday in term time.
Holiday companies increase their prices often double or even triple the cost during school holidays. So, most families will never have the opportunity to travel, because they just can’t afford it.
What a beautiful family bonding time and enriching experience all these children are missing out on. And yet, if you choose not to enrol your child in school, you can travel whenever the mood takes you.
It feels very unfair….. though I’m on the right side not to moan about it too much!
Us home educators love travel, in fact ‘world schooling’ and ‘road schooling’ is the new common practice in the worldwide home education community.
We have just bought a big motor home ourselves, and getting excited about travelling south with the birds for winter, and checking out northern Europe during summer. We are thrilled to be able to show our kids the world, different cultures, food, language and learn about each country’s history along the way.
Spending longer than just a couple of weeks, will give our children a real understanding of a place and it’s people. Whilst taking full advantage of low prices on ferries and quiet beaches!
Travel can only inspire and benefit, so it is a shame school prevents it. Wouldn’t it be better, to allow them their holiday, with the condition they have to take pictures and write a diary of their trip. Documenting the travel as the education that it is, and sharing it with their class on their return, so everyone can learn from it.
I know which I prefer
I started writing this with the intention of giving a non-bias view, but I don’t think that happened did it?
Reading back over my words, I can see I am 100% on the side of home educating. And that is obviously why I am doing it!
I do understand we are all different though, and I can even see some children are better off in school, because not every parent would be able to offer the creative and stimulating environment required, and some children have an awful home life, so school is a relief for them.
But if you do have the slightest doubt that school isn’t the best option for your child, and that your family could benefit from this kind of alternative lifestyle, then I urge you to research more.
Don’t just send your children to school, because that’s what you did, and your parents, and everyone around you. Just stop and think about it for a while., Consider your children as individuals.
If school suits them and they are genuinely happy there and their reports are good, then great! But if not, if you have just the smallest doubt that they are struggling or unhappy, give home educating some thought.
There is so much support worldwide among the home schooling communities through Facebook, and like I mentioned before there are lots of local groups, who I find their support the most valuable in my life. It is such a diverse crowd, but we all have one thing in common and it’s enough to instantly give us a strong bond.
When I started this journey 5 years ago, there was nobody else doing it in my town, I had to travel 20 miles to attend a group. But since then, they have been dropping out of school in masses, and now we have 2 groups in my town, another 10 miles away, and 5 or 6 20 miles away.
Many of the new home educating mum’s are school teachers. They have such negative opinions of our education system from experience, that they don’t want to send their own children.
Some children are medicated so they can conform to this environment, when all they need is some understanding to what situation suits them better.
It’s a huge tragedy when children commit suicide because of bullying in school. This shouldn’t be happening!!
Maybe one day soon, government will realize the issues, and employ someone like Sir Ken Robinson to change our education system. I can guarantee home education wouldn’t be as popular if they did!