Celebrating the Return to Home Educating

Today is the day that school children and parents are rejoicing.  It marks the end of home schooling.  Today is also the day that another group of children and parents are celebrating as it marks the return of home educating.  The terms “home schooling” and “home educating” are often used interchangeably, a fact that has long irked the home education community.  However, the pandemic has brought a new level of frustration as the media portrayed only one image home learning – and for the most part it was not a positive one.  
 
In the UK, home education in a mass sense began in the 1970’s and gained momentum in the 1980’s.  In 2019, it was estimated that between 90,000 and 130,000 children were being home educated in the UK, a figure that rises each year.  Despite media portrayal and the assumption that home educated children have been at an advantage during the pandemic as their educational provision has not changed, this massive group of children have faced a year of significant challenges equal to those of their schooled peers. 
 
As a parent who has been home educating for the last sixteen years, as well as an educator who has been involved with the home educated community, my heart has broken on numerous occasions over this pandemic period as I have watched the disruption to home educated children’s life unfold.  Contrary to the popular misconceptions, home educated students do not sit at a desk at home all day recreating the school experience.  While many students do formal learning through books or classes, most home educated students also have a wealth of activities that they attend throughout the week that are an integral part of home educating.  My own children have attended weekly: debate sessions at the Economist Headquarters, STEM sessions for First Lego League, philosophy sessions with the Philosophy Foundation, book groups, outdoor ranger activities,  and sports such as swimming.  This essential part of their home education learning stopped when the pandemic started. 
 
This week will mark the beginning of a return to true home education for 100,000+ children in the UK.  A return to the diverse learning activities that are an accurate representation of what home education is all about.  It will also mark the taking back of the phrase “home schooling” from something that has been portrayed in such a negative light to one of positivity and possibilities.  So as we rejoice at the return to the classroom for the UK’s school children, let us also restore the terms “home schooling” and “home educating” to the positivity they should convey.  

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