Is home-schooling the future of education?

During the little blip in society due to a particular virus that will go un-named, nearly every child across the UK experienced some form of home-based learning. While it came as a shock to quite a few, it has been a revolution in the making for multiple years preceding the 'C'-word.

Homeschooling is generally understood in a wider context to mean that a student's education takes place exclusively at home. However, it is actually more a continuum rather than a flat-out al or nothing choice made by parents and the child.

There are various instances in which home-schooling is fluid, with parents opting to home-school a particular year but not the next depending upon the content and curriculum. Others may teach all subjects at home except for the more practical subjects like DT, Drama and P.E.

The concept of homeschooling has become ambiguous in the last few years as families opt to mix home, online lessons and school flexibly adjusting to the demands of both the curriculum, circumstance and public health concerns.

Benefits of Homeschooling

The benefits of homeschooling are vast and varied. They can be seen in different areas of a child’s life, such a socially, emotionally, mentally and academically.

Socially, children who are homeschooled often have more opportunities to socialize than their traditionally schooled peers. This is because they get to spend more time interacting with their family and friends. They are also able to socialize with a variety of people, as they get to go out and meet new people more often.

Emotionally, homeschooled children generally have better emotional regulation skills than traditionally schooled children. This is because they are not constantly bombarded with negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety.

Mentally, homeschooled children often have better critical thinking skills than their traditionally schooled peers. This is because they are not confined to a set curriculum and are able to explore different concepts at their own pace.

Academically, homeschooled children often perform better than their traditionally schooled peers. This is because they are not held back by the limitations of a traditional school system. They are also able to get more one-on-one attention from their teachers, which leads to better academic outcomes.

1. Deeper understanding

The government judges schools on test results. This can lead to ‘teaching to the test’. As teachers cram children’s heads with exam-passing information they are in danger of depriving children of the opportunity to gain in-depth understanding of subjects and to enjoy learning. Homeschooled children can learn about history in historic buildings and museums, science in laboratories, geography out in the field, and literature at the theatre. They discover that learning is life and not restricted to one room.

 2. Personalised learning

Outside a class of thirty, teaching can be tailored to meet an individual child’s abilities, interests and learning styles. You can research different methods including Montesorri and Waldorf and find a method or combination of methods that suits your child. You can nurture your child’s abilities giving them the time and space they need to learn at their own pace – no self-confidence damaging bottom sets! Your child can be taught through their own interests. If your child loves cars then they can be taught maths and English around the theme of cars.

3. Focussed attention

Teachers don’t just teach. They have paperwork to complete – an energy-sapping, time-consuming mountain of it! They have government initiatives to comply with, meetings to attend, and so much more. You are free from these obligations which gives you more energy and time to plan, teach, address your child’s misconceptions, and reinforce learning to ensure there aren’t any gaps.

4. Higher academic attainment

It’s difficult to find UK data comparing the academic achievements of homeschooled children to those in school. However, data from the USA is available for scrutiny. A study by Sandra Martin-Chang of Concordia University (2011) suggests that homeschooled children achieved higher academic results than their state school peers.

As far as the UK is concerned, the benefits of one-to-one tuition are well recorded. Although parents may lack teaching experience, the advantages of individualised tuition can outweigh this. Children who receive personalised support achieve higher academic results, have a greater depth of understanding and are more confident in their abilities.

5. Broader arts education

Arts subjects are being increasingly sidelined in mainstream schools due to a lack of funding and the pressure to achieve academic results. However, learning art, design and music is invaluable for children’s emotional and brain development. Research has shown that learning to play a musical instrument strengthens memory and enhances spatial reasoning and literacy skills. Arts subjects are enjoyable, bring a sense of achievement, foster creative thinking skills, and celebrate humanity.

Negatives behind homeschooling

There are also some negatives associated with homeschooling, such as the potential for social isolation, the lack of a structured learning environment and the potential for parents to be overinvolved in their child’s education.

While homeschooling does have some negatives, it is important to remember that every situation is different. What works for one family may not work for another family. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling before making a decision.

1. Cost

If you home educate your child you won’t be able to work much, if at all. You will also have to buy resources, find the money for activities, and pay exam costs. On the positive side, some activity centres and museums offer discounts for homeschooling groups, and the cost of home educating your child is less than private school fees.

2. Parental qualifications

Teachers train for years and they have extensive experience teaching a variety of subjects. Your local authority will get involved if they discover you aren’t providing your child with an adequate education. You must be honest with yourself about weak subject areas and address any issues by educating yourself through distance learning or in-person classes, by employing private tutors for your child, or a mixture of both.

At Sherpa Online we can find you experienced, professional maths, English, science, humanities and language tutors who are qualified to teach from primary to A-Level. All our tutors are proficient in adapting their teaching styles to children’s particular learning styles, personalities, interests and levels.

Growth of Homeschooling

The trend for homeschooling has been on the rise in the United States for a number of years. A study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2016 revealed that the number of students who were being homeschooled had increased by 61% since 1999.

Similarly, the UK has seen a surge in the number of parents wanting to take on the role of teaching their children at home. In 2017, The Guardian reported that the number of parents who had pulled their children out of school to teach them at home had increased by 42% in just one year.

This growth is attributed to a variety of reasons. Firstly, families are feeling more and more disillusioned with the traditional school system. Secondly, there is an increasing awareness of the many benefits that homeschooling can offer, such as a more tailored education, increased personal attention and opportunities to learn in a more relaxed and comfortable environment.

The Future of Education

So, is home-schooling the future of education? There is no definitive answer to this question. However, what it does suggest is that there is a growing demand for more flexible and personalized forms of learning, which homeschooling can certainly provide. As society continues to change and evolve, it is likely that the education system will need to adapt in order to meet the needs of 21st-century learners. And while homeschooling may not be the right choice for everyone, it is certainly an option that is worth considering for those who are looking for a more customized and individualized form of education.

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James Gurnett

17th March

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