How to Start Home Educating

One of the wonderful things about home education is the freedom to choose how you go about it. There really is no prescribed one‑size‑fits‑all formula.

The more home educating families your meet, and the more books and articles you read, the more you'll see that everyone does things a little differently.

Your goal as you start out, is to find the right balance of structure and freedom that works for each child involved, as well as the parents. Getting the children involved in some of the decisions can be useful in terms of gaining their commitment to the decisions.

Many newbies set out trying to replicate a school-like system at home, and often feel a great sense of anxiety about not being qualified like a school teacher. After a while, most come to realize that you are not trying to bring school into your home, but trying to find the best way to support your children with their growth.

The first priority is to make sure your child gets to love the process of learning. Once you achieve this everything else becomes so much easier.

Be sure to remember that every child is unique, even with the same parents and the same home environment. Get to understand their individual strengths and weaknesses; their concentration span; their preferred types of learning activity; the subjects that most interest them; the things that make them tick and those which turn them off. Then work with what you discover, rather than fighting against it.

As a home educator, you have more opportunity to do this than a school teacher who is trying to satisfy the needs of 30 or more children at the same time, while delivering a curriculum set by the authorities, to a fixed timetable, with the added pressure of maintaining records to tick the necessary boxes in preparation for the next inspection.

Your freedom to choose what works for each of your unique children, without those pressures, means you don't need to try to fit into the shoes of a qualified teacher.

When you compare the two, standard schooling is much like a sheep‑dip approach. Very few children really thrive in that environment to the extent that they would if they had a focused personal plan with support and tuition available where necessary.

If you're able to find a way to help your child really focus for just a couple of hours a day, broken into whatever size chunks suits them, that'll probably give them a far higher quality of development than a whole day stuck in a classroom environment.

However you start out, you'll soon discover the need for flexibility. So be prepared to honestly review how things are working out, with your child, and to experiment with changing anything along the way. Even when you settle into a pattern that seems to work, it can be refreshing to shake things up again from time to time: a change of environment; study patterns; creative downtime activities; starting time; background music; snacking patterns; rewards; curriculum materials; study days; physical activities; outings; reward systems; study subjects; special projects. With so many variables, there's plenty of things you and your children can try changing to see how they work out.

To get some inspiration, make sure you meet up with other home educating families in your neighbourhood. You'll probably be surprised just how many there are.