Posted by: barbaraneill | February 28, 2012

Could YOU home educate your child?

The answer may surprise you.

It’s not always easy for children to be in mainstream education, particularly if they may be subjected to bullying. They might have an undetected learning difficulty or some other reason why they just don’t fit in. There is a lot of pressure on schools to ‘perform’ and be seen to ‘do well’ in the league tables. This pressure, inevitably, is passed on to the teachers, so it’s hardly surprising if the children, in turn, feel that they, too, are under pressure to perform.

Of course, it’s likely that most children will manage perfectly well and develop into reasonably well-adjusted adults, by conforming to the education system that is, currently, in place. What about those who don’t? And what if one, (or more), of those children is yours?

Childhood is supposed to be a time of innocence; of fun, exploration and discovery, and of happiness.  But a child can’t be happy if he or she feels lost, lonely, fearful or neglected and these are all feelings that can affect a child who just doesn’t fit in, for whatever reason. So it’s a lot less than perfect for some children. Add to this the burden of time-consuming homework and there is little opportunity for them to lead fulfilled and happy lives.

The general assumption is that school is compulsory but, in fact, the only obligation on the part of parents, where the education of their children is concerned, is to provide an education that is appropriate to the needs of the child. In some cases, being educated at home is a far better option.

There are no rules or regulations on how to home-educate your child, in the UK, which means that you have total freedom to provide your child with an education that is specifically tailored to him or her. And who could know your child better than you do?

You don’t need any teaching experience, nor do you need to stick to a timetable. Some parents do use a timetable because it happens to suit them, of course. And as for not needing teaching qualifications, it often happens that a home-educating parent is making new discoveries and learning along with their child.

Education Otherwise is an excellent organisation that makes it possible for home-educators to connect with each other, share resources and ideas and give their children the opportunity for contact with other home-educated children.

“Lessons” no longer need to be formal. If your child didn’t like football or rugby at school, why not give him, or her, the opportunity to try ice skating, trampolining or any other activity in which they might feel less pressured.

Home-education provides a great opportunity for learning life-skills, incorporating functional skills, (numeracy, literacy and ICT) in a relevant and meaningful way. For instance, learning about nutrition can lead to growing vegetables and fruit, researching, (online perhaps), recipes for healthy meals, writing a shopping list for ingredients, learning how to budget, select items that are good value for money and, eventually, preparing and cooking a meal for the family, (observing basic food hygiene of course).

With a little imagination, a lot is possible.

Do you need to be an expert to home-educate your child? Well, yes, actually. But you don’t need to be an expert teacher in the formal sense. You need to be an expert on your child! You need to know his or her likes and dislikes, (but you will, of course make discoveries along the way). In fact, you’ve been teaching them all their lives!

So while your child could benefit from having a tailor-made education, you would both benefit from spending much more quality time together. And that can only be a good thing!

Barbara Neill is a Hypnotherapist who specialises in treating people with Dyspraxia. She has three sons, one of whom was home-educated from the age of thirteen.


  1. What a brilliant post! My Step Daughter home educates one of her children, and she is amazing! He does so much more than I think he would have done at school. He learns many different things and goes out to different places. I dont know how she does it, but I think she does a tremendous job. It is a wonderful journey for them both. 🙂 Thanks for the post! 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Cheryl. It certainly is an adventure. I think the important thing is to just enjoy the experience. Sadly, we have grown to associate education with ‘work’ rather than having fun, but it really doesn’t have to be like that.

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