A quick internet search will find lots of sites relating to 'Home Schooling', 'Education at Home', 'Education Otherwise' and 'Home Education'. Many of these sites provide advice and resources although, as with any internet search, not all the sites listed will be of help.
It may be worth spending time to sort through some of the sites suggested in this website, and any others you may come across. You may feel it’s worthwhile to keep a few brief notes on ones that you think are useful, or may be useful in the future. Perhaps, you might build your own 'resource library'.
You may find even more relevant information if you include more specific information in your search; eg: 'home schooling bullying'; 'homeschooling gifted'; or 'home education autism'. Try different search engines and try different phrases for 'education otherwise than at school'.
There are also a large number of books and other publications that give overviews of different methods, approaches and techniques associated with home education. Some of these are available from local libraries (but you may need to order them).
There are many different approaches to Educating Otherwise than at School and there is no single 'Right Way'.
People use very different styles of home education. Check out the way it’s done by others. How does your child learn best? Is it by reading and answering questions in books? Perhaps they prefer to listen and discuss things or they may be more active and need to make things, draw things, do it themselves rather than read about it. Try to find out what might work best for them. There is no absolute correct method and it may take some trial and error to find a way that works for you and your child.
The National Curriculum
The National Curriculum (NC) is not compulsory for those children educated 'at home'. However, for some families it provides a useful framework, especially at first. It can also be of great help if a return to mainstream school is likely as it may make it easier for the child if they have covered the same topics, to a similar standard as their peers.
Additionally, the GCSEs taken by most schoolchildren are based upon the NC and, if it is planned that certain of these may be taken in the future, it may help to follow the schemes of work for those subjects at least.
Information on the National Curriculum can be found at the National Curriculum website: www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum
Even if you don't mark your child's work in a rigorous 'school-style', it is important that a child's misunderstandings and errors are dealt with quickly in order for them to learn and not to carry forward any misconceptions. It is equally important that a child knows when they are getting things right.
Regularly assessing your child’s learning can also give you feedback and can be used to inform future teaching / learning. It may also help to indicate if a particular style / method / set of resources is working as you'd hoped.
The NC can be of help if parents want some comparative idea of their child’s progress. This can also be done by using age-targeted worksheets or tests (perhaps from the Internet) or even by borrowing work / tests / worksheets from friends with children still at school.
If a child is aiming to take a particular exam, try to get past papers (and mark schemes). The exam boards' websites usually have some.
Home educators use a wide range of methods to celebrate their child’s successes and often go far further than the occasional tick for a 10 / 10. The list below gives only a few examples:
- Sticker charts (10 stickers = a treat. A tried and trusted one, if a little predictable, but the treat can be anything from a bigger sticker, choosing tomorrow's meals, a trip to the cinema or extra time for TV / PC / Wiiplaybox).
- 'Cool Wall' (a visible area dedicated to the child’s best work).
- Verbal praise (obvious, but can have additional impact if from a family friend, relative and / or 'expert').
- Including their best work in a special folder / box.
This last idea can also become part of an ongoing 'CV' and many home educated children produce very impressive, well organised collections of art, poems, stories, 100% correct tricky maths assignments, projects etc. Where work is not so easily kept (perhaps a large model or a science experiment) a photographic record, or even a video, can serve well. This can all be especially useful when talking to colleges, universities and employers who may have had very little experience of home educated children or young adults.
Some home educators take a different view of 'reward' for learning and believe that children can sometimes simply learn in order to please the adult to get the reward. They feel that, if not done thoughtfully, a reward system can detract from the joy of learning itself.
It is important to provide opportunities for your child to mix informally with other children. This might not be a problem and your child may wish to keep in touch with friends from school and / or they may have friends in the neighbourhood.
As well as being a good source of advice, ideas and support, contact with other home educating families can additionally provide opportunities for children to socialise.
You may also decide to encourage them to join local groups, such as the scouts, sports clubs, music, dance or drama groups, wildlife or astronomy clubs etc.