We have been homeschooling, unschooling and worldschooling off and on since 2012 and we think it’s been invaluable for our children. If you’re considering it and want to know more, read on. Homeschooling has been immensely rewarding for us so we think all families should have the opportunity to do the same, if they want to. Here are 20 reasons why we continue to homeschool our three kids.
Why Did We Start To Homeschool?
We moved to Perth, Western Australia in 2011 from the UK. Our kids were pretty small back then and ranged from 18 months to 8 years. They had all attended school, pre-school or a nursery in some form. Homeschooling was never really on our radar but once we hit Western Australia and realised just how different the education system was, we decided to give it a bash.
Back then, we based our days on project learning which our kids loved. They would spend their days working through topics that interested them most and in the evenings, I would put together topic packs they could work through. We had a loose timetable but generally, everything was based around reaching academic milestones and eventually slotting them back into mainstream education, which we did when we moved to Queensland.
After we moved to France and our kids were psychologically damaged by the horrendously cruel and rigid education system there, we started homeschooling again. However, we became location independent shortly after and started favouring a worldschooling approach.
Different Techniques Of Learning
What do these homeschool terms actually mean?
Homeschooling: Generally kids learn at home with a timetable and set subjects or curriculum. Learning can be blended between online or through books and can be semi-structured or structured. In my experience parents who are very rigid and try to emulate a teacher-pupil relationship with a very structured timetable, face the most hostility & resistance from their kids. Curriculums can be both online, in co-op groups and through books and worksheets and can be combined with other techniques.
Worldschooling: Usually travelling and allowing the world to teach your children as you travel. This could be by learning new languages, attending local schools (not international schools), taking local tours, meeting local people, learning local skills and generally allowing the world to inspire kids. Some parents cannot travel and use material from around the world to teach their kids. This could be YouTube videos, books from different cultures, music from around the world, exploring maps, planning imaginary trips or introducing children to people from different cultures in some way.
Unschooling: This approach is the most flexible and allows children to be entirely in control of what and how they learn. Self-directed learning can come in many forms and parents need to be openminded about what constitutes learning.
What Are We Currently Doing?
At the time of writing this, we’ve been in lockdown for a number of months and we’ve been using a combined homeschooling-unschooling-worldschooling approach.
How does this work? They have two hours every day of formal online lessons with academic subjects such as maths, science, history, geography, English, drama, book studies. The only criteria we have set is that they MUST do two lessons of maths every morning which takes about 30 minutes. Aside from that, they can choose what lessons they complete in those two hours and learn what they want to.
After lunch, they have three hours of unschooling where they follow their own interests and pursue their own learning. The only criteria is that they must be learning something. Sometimes they go skateboarding, rock climbing or swimming. Other times they ask to go to a museum or watch a documentary. Other examples of learning are listening to audiobooks, reading or going to the library, learning a musical instrument, making a bowl with clay, designing a poster, watching YouTube for art techniques, cooking, playing with lego or chess, doing science experiments with bubbles or materials. Literally, as long as they are busy and learning by engaging their brains, we’re happy.
Using this combined approach has enabled our eldest child to gain access to a top London university a year early at the age of seventeen and our middle child to start working towards technical qualifications three years early.
What About When You Travel?
Our learning approach depends on where we travel to and how long we spend there.
If we’re fast travelling with little baggage we allow the environment to teach our kids. We’ve been to fifty-two countries, we nearly always stay in Airbnb and with the local community and there’s plenty to learn everywhere we go.
If we’re slow travelling, usually with our car and have baggage, we take the kids laptops and they’re expected to do maths daily and then we spend the rest of the time learning from our environment. Maths is the only constant subject because every other subject can be learned through the community.
What About Homeschool Exams?
Your child can still sit GCSEs or A’Levels if they wish and at whatever age they want. It is common for homeschool kids to stagger their exams over a two year period and to have sat them a year early. You are responsible for enrolling your child at an exam centre, finding the correct exam code/body and paying for them to sit the exams. This can be a big financial burden so you must consider it. Each exam can cost from £100-£350. Usually, these are free if your child was in school but you take on the full burden of every educational need.
Aside from GCSE/A’Level, there are other accredited courses young people can sit too. The American SAT and AP exams are much cheaper, easier as they’re multiple choice & can be used as university entrance points. Your child can also complete vocational qualifications like a BTEC online and through centres. Functional Skills is a much cheaper alternative to GCSE English & Maths & NVQ Level 1-5 (City & Guilds) are available in more than 1,000 subjects and are usually completed whilst in an education or work setting or as part of an apprenticeship although some can be done entirely online.
There are also other exams which can prove competency in other areas. For example LAMDA (drama & speaking), NICAS (climbing) & ABRSM (music).
There are many possibilities but sadly the UK is indoctrinated into believing that GCSEs (which very few other countries use) & A’Levels are the only method of learning and being qualified.
There are plenty of misconceptions about homeschooled kids which seem to be relentlessly aired on mainstream media and sadly from our government too.
Some of these viewpoints include lazy or abusive parents, children lacking IQ, children being too badly behaved for school, parents raising ‘stupid kids’ and parents being selfish.
Some of the reactions we’ve encountered towards homeschooling further our opinion that kids educated outside the mainstream norm are more open-minded, more resilient, more able to adapt to change, more able to entertain themselves, less likely to be bored, more self-reliant, lifelong learners and more able to complete independent research.
Here Are 20 Reasons Why We Unschool, Homeschool & Worldschool
I can think of at least another 20 reasons why we homeschool and why I disapprove of mainstream education but I feel you’d be too bored to read any further, so here are 20 reasons why.
- In far too many governments, unqualified Government officials now seem to be in charge of the educational curriculum and are clueless, arrogant and short-sighted to child development, children’s needs and basic child psychology. Education has become too narrowly defined about academic learning & I think this damages children’s wellbeing & attitude towards learning. The UK Government has recently issued a ban on children discussing anticapitalist ideas which is resulting in a fear of discussion inside classrooms. Education needs to have freedom to explore topics not curtail them.
- There are constant targets and tests with no care that children learn in their own time. Many children cannot perform for the test and will never do well in those conditions. Some children may just never learn what is expected of them in the time frame allowed. Testing produces ‘failures’ and that damages confidence and esteem and is not an incentive for learning.
- Far too much time is spent on rote learning and memorising unnecessary facts that are not needed or even remembered in later in life.
- Learning doesn’t seem to be attributed to life’s needs. Little is learned about health, food, emotions, politics or finance. It seems what they learn does not equip them with the skills needed when they leave school. I would argue that school de-skills children of life long and necessary needs.
- Subjects are often outdated, wrong, in-factual or deliberately misrepresented. This is especially true of subjects concerning, health and history.
- Children are made to learn, not because they want to but because they have to. This leads to kids being burnt out and being “done with education“.
- The education system evolves too slowly and if anything in the UK, seems to be going backwards not forwards in its approaches & subjects. Humanity based subjects are dismissed as unnecessary when the reality is we need them more.
- Too frequently our children wind up with a poor or unkind teacher and untold damage is done. The UK has the unhappiest children within Europe and this is attributed to school life.
- The marking system is often unfair, biased and used as a punishment. The dreaded red pen scrawled messily like an ant on acid over a child’s work. The horrendous ringed minus or ‘E FAIL’ and for kids with low self-confidence it can be awful and the worst thing is, it is entirely unnecessary. One of my children struggled to learn to read and the teacher made that child feel like a failure and that they weren’t as good as other kids. It created a phobia of reading for over a year but thankfully using unschooling we were able to rectify it & love reading. Another child was bullied by a boy and the female teacher took his side and spent three months teaching the entire class how boys were better than girls. In the end, I had to involve the Dept. of Education to intervene because the daily sexism that was taught was abhorrent. The teacher was not removed & continued to teach despite the school & Dept of Education agreeing that it was detrimental. Another child was kicked and punched in the playground by a group of seven children who surrounded them. The school decided not to involve the parents & only made the boys apologise. After I complained a multitude of times and threatened the school with the Dept of Education, they wrote a letter to the parents explaining what had happened. How can violent & aggressive children learn from their actions if their parents are not involved? That’s just three examples I chose to give, there are many more.
- Peer pressure and bullying from kids seem to be increasing every year with frequent physical attacks on vulnerable kids. This is frequently passed down from their own parents who are uneducated and dominated by mainstream media and materialism. Schools seem reluctant to intervene, leaving vulnerable children as easy targets.
- Not enough time spent is spent in nature. How can we expect our children to become ‘earth guardians’ when they’re so far removed from what they need to protect? How many children can identify a common bird or insect or name where it comes in the food chain? If children cannot understand the food chain, humanity is doomed.
- Children sent to mainstream schools spend much of it sick with illness spreading through schools like wildfires. I think this is due to having poor immune systems and being cooped up in classrooms inside being subjected to central heating and dust.
- How many times do we as adults say ‘Gosh, I wish we’d learned that at school‘ or ‘Well, I never knew that, why didn’t I learn that at school?’. For me, this is mostly about maths, politics or political history but it serves us well to realise that although parallelograms are important they are also not the end of the world.
- Can schools nurture an entrepreneurial spirit, an inquiring mind and an autonomous & innovative thinker? Too often they cannot because there are just too many children in the classroom to be able to tolerate questions & discussion. These children are told to stop asking questions, to sit still, to behave normally. Many are told they’re not normal or their behaviour is not within normal parameters. Some children will be drugged to promote normal behaviours or encouraged to see psychiatrists for diagnosis. Children who are young for their school year groups (born after May) are particularly susceptible to this.
- Illiteracy is said to be non-existent in developing countries but how many adults are functionally illiterate and cannot differentiate between you’re and your? I see social media littered with these people and I wonder how they can articulate themselves if they cannot spell? How many schools offload these kids who are challenging to teach and thus produce illiterate adults?
- Too little attention is given to the arts, music and sports and this is where many children will really flourish.
- How well educated are the teachers nowadays? Many cannot spell, don’t own a passport and are slaves themselves to the system. How can they analyse the system when they’re submerged in it to the point of drowning? Teachers are so overworked they cannot add to their own professional learning let alone manage the stress of a classroom. The UK has seen hoards of teachers quitting over the last decade because of stress and I cannot see how an unhappy teacher is good at their job.
- After six hours of school is homework really necessary? Should kids not be encouraged to read for their own pleasure, learn how to cook or draw until their hearts are content and make a big mess with glue and sellotape? The problem is much of the day in classrooms is wasted time because it takes kids too long to sit down, to keep quiet, to move classrooms and to go out for a break. The amount of actual learning inside schools is minimal and one to one time with kids is almost nonexistent. This means that both the brightest kids and those that struggle are frequently ignored and children are expected to just coast along. Differentiation groups seldom work because of the inference of being in the ‘thick group‘ or on the ‘thickos table‘.
- When things go wrong in school, other parents don’t really care, understand or challenge appropriately. Parents are generally too scared to or don’t know how to challenge effectively and for many parents, school is just glorified and cheap day-care and they don’t care about what happens within the classroom.
- Not all learning needs to be academic. In my opinion, the best learning comes from self-motivated & self-taught learning which is rarely achievable in mainstream education.
Do You Need To Be Educated To Homeschool?
You do not need to be educated to homeschool but it helps if you are. Intelligence and being educated are not exclusive so if you didn’t do well at school, don’t be put off homeschooling.
You will need to be eager to learn new subjects, be prepared to challenge everything you think you know and be able to research and process information. You are not your child’s teacher instead you’re there to facilitate their learning process.
In my experience parents who try to enforce a classroom setting at home do not succeed in their journey as well as parents who are more open-minded to the learning process happening anywhere and anyhow.
Children learn best when they’re happy, having fun, feeling valued, being included in their own learning journey and when they’re inspired to achieve.
Add this board to Pinterest with this image. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, check out some of our boards too.