Everything you need to know about homeschooling

20 March 2018, 17:07 | Updated: 7 June 2018, 17:00

mum homeschooling her children

By Emma Gritt

More and more people are choosing to take their kids out of the mainstream education system to teach them at home - but homeschooling involves a bit more than sitting down and reciting times tables.

An estimated 50,000 children are already being homeschooled - with some experts believing that the number is set to sharply increase. 

There are several reasons why parents choose to educate their kids at home, ranging from their children not thriving in a traditional classroom environment, bullying, special needs, worrying about the curriculum, and wanting more flexibility for their family. 

This weekend Stacey Solomon, 28, revealed that she has been teaching her sons Zachary, 10, and Leighton, 5, at home since late last year. 

Read more: Stacey Solomon reveals she's homeschooling her two sons

Stacey Solomon with her two sons, who she is now homeschooling (Image: Instagram)

She explained that she made the move after seeing her eldest “lose his personality”, and since November last year has been taking them to museums, and even using YouTube videos to teach them Mandarin. 

But it’s not all fun days out and 20-minutes on the iPad. 

Homeschooling isn’t necessarily a cheap option, with parents often having to bring in professional tutors to teach youngsters the basics in KS1 and 2, and help older children with GCSE and A-Level subjects… if they choose to take them. 

These can cost up to £40 an hour - with some parents spending between £100 and £500 a week. 

There are also other costs to bear in mind - text books, stationery, learning materials, museum entry fees and a loss in earnings if you or your partner give up work to teach your children full-time. 

Another obstacle some parents face is defining boundaries between them and their kids when they are acting as teacher, or just being mum and dad. 

Thousands of parents are choosing to teach their kids at home (Image: Getty)

Do you need qualifications or training to homeschool your kids? 

Parents or carers don’t need a minimum level of education to teach their children at home, or any sort of teaching qualifications.

How many hours a week do you need to teach your homeschooled kids?

The law states that children need a ‘full time education’, but doesn’t clarify what ‘full time’ is. 

Some parents believe it is akin to a typical school day, while others believe it simply means giving them a thorough education, like they would receive in a classroom environment. 

Will anyone check what you’re teaching homeschooled kids? 

The Local Authority (LA) is able to drop in and check on what you’re teaching your children, but it’s not a legal requirement. 

Parents can ask them to step in and check on their children’s education if they wish. 

Are homeschooled kids only taught by their parents? 

Many parents group together to set up homeschooling schools, sharing the responsibilities of teaching them different subjects, and splitting the cost of specialist tutors. 

There is also a huge market in online home schooling resources, ranging from lessons for kids to how-to tutorials for parents. 

What do I need to teach my homeschooled kids? 

You do not need to follow the national curriculum when homeschooling. Government regulations let you provide an education ‘suitable to your child’s needs’ - and that's up to you to define. 

How do homeschooled kids sit GCSEs and A-Levels? 

While most kids commonly sit their GCSEs at the age of 16, it’s not a legality, and people can take them at any age. 

Many homeschooled kids start sitting a couple of GCSEs a year from the age of 12, meaning their qualification journey is more gradual - or they might even end up taking more. 

It is up to the pupil (or guardians) to find an exam centre, register in advance and pay between £12 and £50 for their child to sit the test in an official environment. 

What are the first steps in homeschooling a child? 

Parents in England can start their family’s homeschooling journey by deregistering them with their local authority. After that they can teach them whatever they think they need to know, and in a schedule that suits them.