After our last blog about home schooling in Wales, mum Katharine has been getting lots of questions about her experiences. We thought it would be a great idea to share her answers with all of you…
Following on from my story ‘Home Schooling: Turned Out Better Than Expected’, I’ve been asked several questions about my son getting qualifications, working while home schooling and ‘don’t you have to follow the curriculum?’. In short reply to the above the answer is you can, you can and you can. But you don’t have to!
How do you get qualifications when you home school?
Like many children my son struggled with tests at school and the prospect of sitting exams horrified him. Home education took all that stress away because we discovered how he learnt, what interested him and how constructive feedback motivated him to learn more.
In the first 12 months he showed a willingness to learn, research and produce work without limitations. He was free to look into subjects that interested him and he progressed at a steady pace writing essays, poems, news articles, posters and completing Maths and English work books.
I did look into an assessed learning scheme – ASDAN have a range of resources available and I used some of their modules in their Citizenship Award to structure projects and to look at subjects not covered by mainstream schools. My son particularly enjoyed Global Citizenship and Rights & Responsibilities but, as time went by, it was clear that he would ideally need some GCSEs as he wanted to go to university.
I am no qualified teacher and it’s been many years since I did my CSEs, so teaching my son to attain that level was never going to happen. So I made some enquiries with our local college, who were very helpful. They had a range of courses available for all abilities including vocational studies, but my son had set his sights on one of the GCSE courses which was taught over one year.
Secondly I found a Maths and English tutor for him, initially to provide him with a more formal, structured and subject focused study routine and also to bring his level of work up to a standard to prepare him for college.
Whilst he was thrilled at the idea of going to college and doing GCSEs, I had my doubts given the problems he’d had in mainstream school and his Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), so the last thing I wanted was to set him up to fail.
His tutors were great and we downloaded past GCSE English & Maths papers, they set him work to do after each session and he accessed Ginger and a touch typing program, to help him improve his spelling, grammar and punctuation. We also purchased some recommended text books and within 6 months he’d had his interview and assessment for college. He’s been accepted to start this September to do a full time course, studying GCSE Maths and English and BTECs in Art and Performing Art.
We didn’t follow the curriculum initially, although many home educators do, but since deciding that the college route was for him, he’s been working on GCSE Maths and English papers at the intermediate and higher level.
How did you balance home schooling and work?
Working provided the means to fund the tutors, which also gave us both an opportunity to spend time apart, as well as funds to pay for more materials, equipment and day trips. I work as a community carer, where the hours are flexible and the pay is at the living wage. I usually work 3-4 evening a week plus most weekends, when my son has his own activities.
So moving forward and in answer to those questions, yes you can get qualifications when you are home educated, you can go to college to study, be an external candidate or choose to follow an ASDAN/BTEC program of equivalent qualifications.
There is also the option of achieving other rewards, like Blue Peter badges, swimming certificates, and the silver and gold award for volunteering. Through many cadet groups or scout/guide organisations you can achieve numerous awards from First Aid to map reading, although not formal qualifications, they are great life skills that look good on your CV.
Yes you can carry on working while home educating and not least to afford to have the option to elect to home educate. Although everyone’s circumstances are different, but as a single parent it was essential for me and it certainly helped with that illusive work/life balance.
Do I have to following the curriculum?
No, and initially I’m glad we didn’t even consider doing so, as the prospect of covering 12 subjects was daunting for me to even contemplate doing with any competence, let alone expecting my son to replicate mainstream school at home! That’s the beauty of home educating, you can learn and incorporate several subjects at the same time.
Take for example, the project my son did on Chernobyl. He was watching a Top Gear program and they had to drive through the restricted area around Chernobyl, by the following morning he’d researched where Chernobyl was, found some information about the disaster and decided to write a piece of work on it. In turn this incorporated Geography, History, I.T Skills, English and some Science, with no limitations!
As I said previously, Home Education isn’t for everyone, and it’s not something I thought I’d consider until I realised how badly the system was failing my son. But it’s worked out better than expected and he’s moving forward now towards achieving his potential.
I hope this helps with your homeschooling. If you have any great suggestions to add then use the comments section below.
Like this article? Check out some others:
- Home Schooling: Turned Out Better Than Expected
- Guest Blog: ‘10 Things Under £5’ in North West Wales for Families
- How to Avoid Debt & Invisible Money
- Top Tips for Your Family to Save Money
- Guest Blog: ‘5 Things Under £5’ in South Wales for Families