Monthly Archives: March 2017

How is the Credit Crunch Creating a British Renaissance in Home Schooling

The credit crunch has affected all industries, and private education is not an exception. In the UK, almost 20 private schools have either already been closed or announced that they will be closing in the next few months. Parents are forced to look for alternatives in these circumstances, leading to the increasing popularity of home schooling by full-time private tutors. Affluent families switching from a closing private school to home schooling by a full time private tutor are realising that the change is more than a solution; it’s an improvement. With more positive mainstream media coverage than ever before, attitudes towards home schooling are changing and the credit crunch seems to be creating a renaissance in home schooling.

Home schooling marks a return to traditional teaching methods

Educating a child in a school setting is a relatively recent phenomenon; compulsory education was introduced as late as the 1880’s. It took a significant period of time for schooling to become recognisable as the formal schooling provided by the state as seen in the twenty-first century.

For the affluent, the history of education has run a different course; wealthy families have traditionally engaged the services of a full-time private tutor – often a governess – to educate their children. Private schools were few and far between, often offering a predominantly religious education, or preparation for life as a naval officer or other specialised profession. Private schools as we would recognise them today didn’t establish themselves until as late as the nineteenth century, and now that some are closing due to the credit crunch, parents are going back to the traditional method of educating their child with a full-time private tutor.

A private school closure forces parents to re-evaluate how their child is educated

The closure of school is incredibly stressful for all involved, especially as in some cases, the announcement can be sudden and with little notice. A private school is run as a business, therefore closure can take place just as suddenly as it can for a failing company. If there are no other suitable schools in the area, the family may have to consider moving house in order to find a place to educate their child.

When faced with the prospect of having to sell the family home, leaving behind friends and neighbours, school based education has suddenly turned into an inconvenience. This is when a family seriously considers home education.

Private tuition that is tailored to the child

Private schools are often excellent at providing extra help where needed, or additional activities for the gifted child. However, nothing compares to the simple fact that professional home schooling carried out by a full-time tutors results in education that is tailor made to suit the child’s learning style. The tutor receives immediate feedback and can alter explanations accordingly, so the home schooled child is never left behind when they find a new topic difficult, nor bored when the subject is something they find easy.

Home schooling a teenager in the critical exam years

If there is someone in the family who has the time to school a child at home every day, home schooling for a younger child may be possible for a parent. However, if the child is on the brink of critical exams, parents need to recruit a private tutor to deal with the more advanced curriculum. A dedicated full-time private tutor is an ideal solution, as the best tutors are able to educate at that level in all subjects. This removes the need to juggle several tutors for short slots, and ensures that the child receives the best education possible, along with tailored exam practice. The child can still be entered into public examinations, so the switch to home schooling with a full-time private tutor is actually beneficial.

Home schooling and socialisation

Once parents have realised that, educationally speaking, home schooling is usually going to be better quality than that received at school, the next concern is socialisation with peers. The image of a child at home, constantly studying and not talking to anyone else their own age is wildly inaccurate. The best full-time private tutors are highly skilled at finding local clubs and activities designed to provide the opportunities to socialise and also experience a wide range of pursuits.

Many teachers and university tutors comment upon how self-assured, independent and proactive home schooled children are, and when one considers the nature of school based socialisation, it may not be as important as first thought. There are likely to be other children with whom social time is detrimental, and the social conditions experienced at school are quite artificial. There are very few professions in which it’s advantageous to be able to sit still in a room with other people at exactly the same age but differing interests, abilities and aspirations. Socialisation oriented around a common interest is rewarding and much closer to adult life, and is also likely to provide more experience in how to deal with a wider age range that school will provide.

Home schooling fits around a lifestyle, rather than life fitting around school

For the families who have employed a full-time tutor after switching from school education, the benefits of being independent of the school calendar are apparent. Holidays can be enjoyed as a family at any time of year. Travel plans can be more ambitious and integrated with the child’s education, as the tutor can travel with the family and tailor lessons to incorporate local history, language, culture and places of interest. There are no longer any reasons to delay trips, as they will no longer interfere with the child’s education, on the contrary; it will often enhance their education greatly.

Getting Ready For Home Schooling

Home schooling is the method whereby children are educated at home, instead of in a more traditional public or private school setting. Most often, the teacher in a home school situation is the parent of that child.

There are two sides to the home schooling debate. Those who are opposed to home schooling feel that it does not provide the best standardized education or socialization that a child needs to become a healthy and contributing member of society. In addition, they feel that parents who choose to home school their children are “weird” and old fashioned. These people still see home schooling as archaic.

However, parents who home school their own children will tell you differently. First, home school programs are just about as dynamic as you can get, in terms of providing unique and authentic experiences for the child that cater to their individual needs and learning style. Most parents who home school will tell you that it is the biggest reward ever to watch your own child discover new things and develop as an individual, especially knowing that you played a part in facilitating that learning.

If you are deciding whether or not a home school program is a good fit for you and your child, there are many convincing arguments on both sides of the table. Ultimately though, the decision is yours to make. Consider the following steps to preparing for home schooling your child.

  1. Make your decision: Home schooling your child is not a decision that is, or should be arrived at lightly. This new dynamic in your home can change your relationship with your child and others. Make a list of pros and cons for the decision. Sit down and talk with your family about how each person feels about home schooling. Finally, consider whether or not you are willing and able to make the time and energy commitment that home schooling requires in order to be successful. You need to be able to clearly articulate why you feel that a home school program will be the best fit for you and your child.
  2. Understand that learning is a process: Once you enter into the home school program, you now become a teacher. If you don’t have an appropriate understanding of child and learning development, you should do a little research. Learning takes time. And obviously a pre-schooler will be at a much different level than a high school student. That said, you need to be able to prepare a lesson that meets your child where they are at and takes them where they need to go.
  3. Know and follow your state laws for home schooling: Each individual state has its own laws regarding home schooling. You need to keep abreast of the laws and regulations so that your child will be prepared when it is time to enter a higher education institution. Otherwise, all your hard work and theirs could go to waste, as it would not be considered a valid education.
  4. Find a local support group: Parents who are just beginning to home school their child will benefit greatly from a group of experienced home schoolers. They can provide all the necessary resources and advice. In addition, this group provides a social network of other home school students for you child. Consider joining one of these groups right away.

The Case For Home Schooling

There is always a case for home schooling and parents choose to home educate their children for a broad range of reasons. For every case there are voices of opposition and doubt. This article is one of a series addressing a range of the notions raised by these voices – the concern over parental resourcefulness Catholic Home School.

In the Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser (Australia), there was recently an article entitled ‘In a Class of Their Own’ which reported on the increase in home schooling numbers in the last year. The article also had the comment made by a teacher, with 35 years experience, who chose to remain unnamed, that it would be impossible for a parent to provide the level of education needed to properly educate a student.

She stated, “Some parents might be able to cope with the lower grades of junior primary subjects, but you would start to need a degree of specialisation to give them the best information for the variety of subjects.” Continuing she said, “In secondary school it would be impossible to be an expert at all subjects – from German to English – and I believe these parents are depriving children of essential learning experience.”

As a knowledgeable parent, I shake my head in dismay. This teacher’s viewpoint assumes that a parent, themselves, has not studied beyond their own secondary school years. It is odd that they neglect that home educating parents have a very broad range of post-secondary qualifications including agriculture and viticulture, engineering and business, medicine and law, and oddly enough – teaching at both primary and secondary levels. How is it that the skills that parents have acquired on both their academic and career paths not acknowledged by this teacher?

A second assumption by this teacher was made in a further comment in which she said, “There is also a lack of exposure to a range of teaching styles and teaching methods. They are just getting the same old boring mum.” Now as a mother who is home educating this comment, in an of itself, is downright offensive. It suggests that mothers firstly are boring as well as not being capable of utilising varied approaches when facilitating the learning of their children.

Further to this though, is an answer that can be encapsulate why home schooling is so effective – networking. There is this widely thought belief that home schooling means school at home. When this viewpoint is taken often in conjures thoughts of a mother hovering over her children’s shoulders with ruler in hand, with her offspring sitting in front of books and mother correcting every mistake as it is made. For many home educating families this could not be further from the truth! Modern home schooling families, in contrast, often report that they need to reel their children home because they are out and about so much.

This aside, the networking ability of home educators enables them to quickly and easily link them to experts in fields outside their skill sets that are both inside and outside the home schooling community. If you are wondering how this all happens then you need to start finding you local and state home schooling groups. Often these groups operate both with a physical presence as well as an online presence. Often you will be able to find both state based support groups and home education groups that are oriented to the nature of your family or learning approaches by simply doing a search on Yahoo groups.

These groups link members to books, curriculum, courses, and specialists including medical professionals, legal support and educators with specialities which are sometimes easier taught by someone else. This, of course, is in addition to organising activities for members to do together from informal walks in local national parkland through to planned learning activities across all learning domains, that are presented by home educators or professionals that they bring in to speak on the topic. Recently, a home schooling mother arranged for a member of the Department of Primary Industries and Resources to come and explain geological concepts including how to identify minerals and crystals. The educator from the department usually only presented to upper secondary students and university students and was somewhat amazed at the ability of home-based students from the age of five to fifteen also actively taking in all that he explained to them. How wrong was that teacher in her thoughts?

This, of course, coincided this week with a report coming from Flinders University’s Science 21 (also known as Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century) that examined the qualifications of science teachers in South Australian schools. The report detailed that they had found that only 84% of general science teachers for Years 8-10 students were qualified and the findings only got worse from there. In senior classes (Year 11 & 12) the results dropped off significantly. In Biology only 75% of teachers were appropriately qualified, in Chemistry only 72% held the standard of qualification expected and in Physics only 57% held the appropriate qualifications. In fact, if your child’s teacher in South Australia is aged between 30 and 34 years of age you have approximately a 1 in 5 chance that their teacher is appropriately qualified. Sadly too, geology did not rate a mention as there were only 4 responding teachers who were all qualified but that last year there were only eight geology classes held in the entire state leaving little space for broad comparison.

I find this to be an interesting contrast to the argument put forward by the 35-year experienced teacher and it makes me wonder what the qualification results would be for subjects outside of the sciences. Would we see the same trend for the state to be below the national average as well as below what many fee-paying parents expect from our education departments? It is food for thought, is it not? Perhaps, it was a good thing that this teacher remained anonymous because I, for one, would like to have been able to write a letter asking for clarifications on her thoughts especially in consideration of this recent report.

I could determine that, in many respects, this report puts more weight to the case for home schooling. Home schooling parents are resourceful enough to find those teachers who are qualified who are willing to support students in specific academic studies where parental knowledge falls short. At the same time, too, parents have the opportunity to educate their children in skills, crafts and academia that is not taught in traditional schooling models – left instead for Universities or work places. The quality of education that home schooling parents provide is not just weighted against their ability to meet curriculum outcomes (which is how applications are measured) but when it comes to preparing young adults, it is also the amazing breadth of experiences in both academic learning, social exposure, and interaction with our world that truly make home education a quality choice for many families.