If you have been a reader of Bunny on a Budget for a while then you might remember a post I wrote back in 2014 titled Why we decided against homeschooling – at least for now.
Well about 4 years have passed since writing that post and things have certainly changed. As of September 2018 we made the leap and took our two boys out of school! So I wanted to tell you how we got started and share some tips if you’re thinking about homeschooling yourself.
How to get started
If you have already decided that homeschooling is the right choice for you and your family, or, if you’re still in the process of making that big decision, then you might be wondering how to get started?
Here are the first steps you’ll need to take, along with some homeschooling resources I’ve personally found really useful.
Informing the school
If your child/children are currently in school, then you will need to inform the headteacher of your decision. It’s important to remember that at the time of writing in England this is completely legal, so you don’t need the school’s permission to homeschool your children. The school does have the right, however, to refuse a request to send a child into class part-time.
What you will need to inform the headteacher of your decision is a letter requesting that they deregister your child from the school. The school will then pass on the information to your local education authority. To make your life really easy you can use the free template of this letter from www.home-education.org.uk
The day I handed the letters into my boys school I felt a real mix of excitement and nerves. I was happy with our decision, but I was also trying not to feel overwhelmed by the thought of being solely responsible for the education of my children. So it was really nice when I got a phone call later that day from the headteacher telling me that they will really miss the boys, but also that if I need any help I can always ask them.
If you are planning on homeschooling your children from the very beginning, then you don’t need to write a letter to the local authorities to get them deregistered, as they won’t be registered with them anyway.
There are so many options available today with regards to resources that it may feel a bit overwhelming. Don’t let this bother you. What I have come to learn is that you work out over time how you and your children work the best.
The route that I decided to start with was to buy some workbooks for my boys age groups that support the national curriculum. We decided to use the Gold Stars range* and found that they were a bargain. We bought ours from The Works* for about £4 each but they are similarly priced on websites such as Amazon* and Wilko*. I felt that it would be easy to use the workbooks as a foundation for each subject and then to build on the topics in more detail.
I was informed that Pinterest has a huge amount of free resources that you can download and also some really great lesson ideas for kids of all ages. It really is true, Pinterest is a great place to find ideas to make lessons fun, but people also share lots of great worksheets too.
However, I did feel that I was spending a lot of time in the evening preparing for the following days lessons. This is because even though both of my boys are in KS2 they are in different year groups, so I was having to search and find appropriate work for both of my boys and if I’m being completely honest, it was quite time consuming putting together lesson plans from scratch.
I then remembered a website called Twinkl that my friend who works in a nursery mentioned. As it turns out, my boys old school also uses resources from Twinkl which didn’t surprise me because I think that it is a great website. It is a website designed to help teachers (and also homeschooling parents) with a huge amount of lesson plans, worksheets, activity packs and the list goes on. They are created by teachers for teachers and I can’t stress enough how much Twinkl has helped me.
To use Twinkl you pay a yearly subscription fee, and the amount you pay depends on the type of pack you want. Once you do this you then have wonderful resources at your fingertips to print off. I think that one of the reasons I really appreciate this website is because it gives me peace of mind to know that I am teaching my children in a way that is recommended by teachers. It also saves me a lot of time and the worksheets are so vibrant and colourful that my boys really enjoy the activities. However, this is my personal opinion, there are many different ways to teach your children, and a lot of people choose to steer clear of the type of work that is done is schools so please remember to do your research and only choose what is right for you.
YouTube is another great place to find help. There are lots of great videos that can help with basically anything that you need help with. I would recommend checking the videos out yourself first, though, as one of the problems with YouTube is that you never know exactly what you might find.
One of our favourite YouTube channels is Mathantics, it’s very fun and vibrant and his teaching methods seem to click with children.
Plan a schedule
Depending on what type of homeschooling you are wanting to do, another important step may be to create some sort of schedule.
My children work best with a routine, they like to know what time lessons start, what lessons they will be doing each day and how long the lessons will last for. Amazingly they like to start early, so we aim for an 8:30 start so that they can finish early too. But we also do a lot of cooking, baking, p.e lessons and outdoor activities. This means that they are learning for the majority of the day but in a fun way.
Remember that you can change your schedule as time goes on and you find a routine that works best for the whole family.
One of the easiest things to do when your starting on your homeschooling journey is to stress out. I am a natural worrier and so this was something that me and my husband spoke about before we made the leap. Whether my children were in school or at home, I would worry about all sorts of different things. However, teaching your children is a wonderful experience and an experience that we want our whole family to enjoy.
I’m trying to remember that I am learning too and it will take time to really figure out how our family will benefit the most from this new journey. I took a week off after handing the letter into school to get myself organised and I’m really glad that I did.
So there we go, a few simple tips on how to get started with homeschooling in the UK. Obviously I am only writing about what seems to have worked or is working for us, but hopefully you might find something in the post useful. Keep a look out for more posts that I’ll be writing about our experiences.