Every parent in the UK has the right to educate their child at home.
Home schooling can offer an exciting and successful approach to a child's learning - but alongside the many benefits there are also drawbacks.
Many children thrive in school, an extraverted, sociable child who enjoys structure may shine in the classroom.
However, a quiet, focussed child with specific interests may be happier learning at home.
So how do you decide whether home education is the right choice for your child and family?
It's essential you do your homework and here I've covered some of the main pros and cons.
- With no set curriculum or number of hours per day, flexibility is cited as the greatest advantage of home schooling. Parents can tailor education to suit the learning needs of their child. This approach provides a choice about what, when, where and how a child learns and enables them to work at their own pace
- Children benefit from much more individual attention and instruction than is impossible in the school classroom. Even in families with more than one child, a parent can give them far more attention than a classroom teacher
- There’s more opportunity to focus and develop a child’s special interests. While some home educators choose to use a curriculum, or follow school subjects, there's still far more scope for encouraging children to follow their own interests
- The flexibility of home schooling means parents can take a break whenever they want and enjoy cheaper term time holidays and flights
- Educating at home avoids the problems of negative peer pressure, encouraging children to be confident in their abilities
- Being at home doesn’t preclude children from taking formal exams – there are many options including distance learning education providers or a local college and some children may be ready to do exams at an earlier stage than if at school
- Parents need to be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort as home schooling takes a huge amount of dedication. Undertaking all the lesson planning, as well as continually coming up with new and interesting ideas, can be exhausting
- The unrelenting responsibility of being with their child 24-hours-a-day does not suit every parent. Being together all the time means a home educator is never really off duty
- Children can miss out on vital socialising with their peers, so it's important they join activities, groups and clubs
- Aside from the loss of income when a parent is home full-time, the cost of text books, art supplies, writing materials, musical instruments etc can mount up. And if your children take GCSEs or A-levels there's a fee for every exam
- It is unlikely - even if parents are able to afford specialist private tuition where needed - they will be able to replicate the range of expertise offered by the average school, especially at secondary level
- Some local education authorities want to monitor or advise, even if parents don't want them to do so - and do all they can to get a child into school