Homeschooling: A Tutor's Perspective
Ronnie is one of our brilliant tutors, specialising in business and economics but offering tutoring across the board up to GCSE level. As part of her services, she offers homeschooling tuition so we caught up with her for a chat about her tutoring journey and her experience of teaching homeschooled children.
Ronnie has been tutoring since university. While it was originally just a side hustle, 1:1 teaching quickly became her passion and as her confidence and client list grew, she decided to make it a career. During her time with her first agency, she was assigned to several somewhat unexpected cases, working with students who were struggling with their mental health or who were simply not getting what they needed out of the mainstream schooling system. The work she did helping these students tackle the challenges they were facing at school did much to open her eyes to the reality that education cannot be confined to a one-size-fits-all approach. This was where her work with homeschooling families began.
As Ronnie encountered the breadth of problems it is possible for young people to face at school, she became more and more convinced that there need to be alternatives to traditional education available. As she sees it, “it’s ok not to be ok at school. People aren’t all supposed to lead their lives in the same way. If a mainstream educational path isn’t working for a family, they need to try something else”.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, the number of parents opting for homeschooling has risen significantly and Ronnie is pleased to observe that the sense of stigma that has long existed around homeschooling seems to be lessening. “More and more people are realising that they haven’t failed by choosing homeschooling; they’ve just found a better option for their child”.
As Ronnie explains, homeschooling looks different for everyone. The principal attraction of this approach to education is the freedom afforded to parents to design the structure they feel would most benefit their child, and so a range of set-ups exist within the homeschooling landscape. However, given the breadth of subjects she tutors in, which range from maths and history to English and computer science, the families that Ronnie has worked with have consistently chosen to employ her as their sole tutor. This means she is able to take her homeschooled students’ education in hand right from day one. For these parents, it’s about consistency and the freedom to choose a single teaching presence who they know and trust.
Ronnie’s approach to homeschooling
Ronnie’s own approach to homeschooling is one based on organisation and clear planning. While Ronnie is very passionate and open, when speaking to her, you can’t fail to be struck by her business-like approach. Structure and timetables are at the heart of her strategy, and for her, out-of-classroom education does not have to be synonymous with a laissez-faire approach. “At the end of the day,” she says, “they are children and they need a firm hand to lead them whilst being supported and cared for.”
From Ronnie’s perspective, the most successful homeschooling set-ups rely on careful prior planning on both a micro and macro level. This includes all elements of homeschooling from choosing which subjects students will study to ensuring a daily schedule is in place to establishing a long-term timetable that encompasses parents’ goals for their children. For example, it is important to set a timeframe for students to work towards if their parents have opted for them to sit exams or mock exams as independent candidates, because it may well look different to that of a mainstream school.
Ronnie takes it upon herself to help parents to the best of her ability with these all-important decisions. The service she provides is holistic, meaning her work is not limited to teaching but is focused on coordinating all areas of the homeschooling experience. She works with families to establish the kind of approach that will benefit students as individuals as well as taking them through the logistics of moving children from one schooling system to another - writing to their local council about their intended approach, for example.
Benefits of homeschooling
As a strong supporter of homeschooling, Ronnie provides a long list of its benefits, the main one being the intimate nature of it. According to her, the 1:1 setting is a gift to learning like no other. In a class of 30, the individual attention that students receive is inevitably very limited. When providing homeschooling tuition to one student at a time, Ronnie is able to track their progress in minute detail and plan upcoming lessons according to their needs only. This allows for a higher level of responsiveness and for potential problems to be addressed early on.
Ronnie also sees homeschooling as a great space for fostering alternative teacher-student relationships. Her teaching method centres on developing mutual respect, which she finds to be the most conducive to successful learning. “These are young adults; if you show them respect, they will respect you back.” Teacher-student dynamics in “normal” schools are too often stark and ill-representative of what students will face in the real world. Homeschooling allows for a relationship between equals to be formed much earlier on, which has visible benefits for children.
A homeschooling setting also is a unique environment for building confidence. While tutors do not need to pander to their students, giving them the necessary praise and encouragement when they grasp a concept is a hugely important part of a successful learning journey, and homeschooling allows for this in a way that mainstream schooling often cannot.
Advice for homeschooling parents
When asked what advice she would give to parents considering exploring a homeschooling model, Ronnie gives an answer typical of a tutor: “knowledge is power. The most productive thing you can do as a parent prior to beginning your homeschooling journey is to throw yourself into the research process.” Prospective homeschooling parents should educate themselves on everything from teaching theory, 1:1 tutoring options and resources that exist to facilitate home education.
She also recommends joining forums and seeking out as much first hand experience as possible from those who have successfully homeschooled their children. And there’s always a homeschooling consultation with the Tutor House team!
A common concern for parents of homeschooled children is the question of socialisation. While many families are perfectly satisfied with the academic side of homeschooling, they often worry that their children aren’t mixing enough with other people of their age. On this, Ronnie is emphatic: “school is not the only place for children to socialise. If they are being educated at home, make sure you’re going that extra mile to enrol them in clubs, camps, scouts, brownies, etc. There are so many options available these days and parents should systematically be including this type of organisation in their research and day-to-day approach to homeschooling.”
We really enjoyed our chat with Ronnie and getting her perspective on homeschooling. To learn more about her services and how she can help you on your homeschooling journey, get in touch with her here. Read about homeschooling from a parent’s perspective here.