Homeschooling: A Parent's Perspective
The conversations around schooling that are taking place these days are broader and more expansive than ever before. You only need to look at the vast number of alternative education approaches that have emerged in recent decades to see just how many parents are asking questions about traditional schooling. The alternative schooling method that probably spends the most time in the limelight is homeschooling. Opinions on this approach to learning abound, many of them preconceived. It’s a debate in which direct experience is indispensable, so we thought we’d have a chat with a parent who has been successfully homeschooling for three years.
Heather had been observing a flatness in her (traditionally schooled) 7-year-old daughter for some time; she quickly connected it with the concerning reality that she was experiencing a distinct lack of satisfaction and joy within her school day. Heather was understandably worried; “teaching should always be fun and genuinely interesting; it should be about having a lovely time! ” she says. Her daughter had been having a less than ideal experience with her teachers, and the more time Heather spent questioning the mainstream schooling set-up as a whole, the more perplexing it seemed to her that so many parents have children and “hand them over seemingly unquestioningly to a governing authority for the majority of the day”. So, she decided to try something different.
What homeschooling can look like
Heather’s daughter has now been receiving hybrid tuition since 2019; three days a week she attends the alternative school set up by their local community and is homeschooled for the remainder. The change she has observed in her child since moving away from mainstream schooling has been dramatic. “As soon as we began homeschooling”, she says, “she became such a happy little person”. Heather puts this down to various factors.
So much of the boredom generated in a normal school day is avoided with a homeschooling approach because it is possible to tailor the child’s learning specifically to them. Homeschooling allows educators to lean into a child’s unique learning style in a way that is simply not logistically possible in a “normal” school setting. Plus, Heather sets hours which do not align with her daughter’s previous school day because material can be covered so much more quickly and efficiently in a 1:1 environment.
Heather also finds the attitudes towards learning that homeschooling allows for to be far more productive. In a 1:1 environment without a prescriptive timetable or curriculum, children must themselves be convinced of why they’re learning what their educators are choosing to teach them. Unlike in a traditional school context, homeschooling allows for in-depth conversations about the reasons behind learning and desired outcomes. Heather sees this approach as an incredibly empowering one for both child and educator, especially when it comes to tasks to which the child might be resistant.
Heather has also discovered the vast flexibility available when it comes to the material that homeschooling parents can choose to impart. She values the newfound freedom she has to teach her child about what she considers to be important, including areas that are often sidelined within the contemporary education system. For instance, she places high significance on teaching her daughter to cook, grow food, build and carry out repairs around the house. Plus, given how much more efficient the teaching process is away from a class of thirty pupils, not to mention the commuting time saved, these activities fit naturally into the teaching day without compromising academic material.
The challenges of homeschooling
Heather admits there have been some inevitable challenges on their homeschooling journey. No educational approach is free of roadblocks and it took some adjusting for herself and her partner to arrive at the right balance between teaching and parenting roles within their tuition approach. Discipline can be a struggle when parents are homeschooling their children but they have found that establishing consistently open channels of communication has been a highly effective remedy for this.
And, of course, socialisation is more challenging when a child is learning from home. Heather overall feels this trade-off is worth it, however, at least in part due to the high levels of family cohesion and the rewarding connections that can be reinforced within the home.
Should parents start homeschooling?
As Heather has experienced it, the decision to homeschool your child is a substantial one and will invariably require a growing-in period to allow this approach to fit around you and your family’s needs. However, in her eyes, the rewards outweigh the challenges and for parents who may be feeling disillusioned with the mainstream schooling system, it is an excellent option that is well worth exploring in depth.
If Heather’s homeschooling experience has given you pause for thought and you would like to investigate alternative education paths, get in touch with our team for a chat about how homeschooling could work for you.