Top Ten Tips for Newbie Home Educators

by Juliet English and Matt Harris


Welcome to a new chapter in your parenting journey! As September rolls in, many families in the UK gear up for the start of a fresh academic year. However, if you’ve chosen the path of home education, you might be facing some unique challenges. Perhaps you’ve encountered the well-intentioned, albeit sometimes sceptical, questions from friends and family:

  • “How will your children socialise or develop social skills?”
  • “Can you really educate your child if you didn’t excel in school?”
  • “Are you prepared to be with your children 24/7?”
  • “What about exams and future opportunities?”
  • “Children need structure, right?”

Rest assured, you’re not alone in this. In this article, we’ll provide you with invaluable tips to help you navigate your new adventure in home education.

Tip 1: Embrace Individuality – Don’t Compare Your Family to Others

Remember that your family is unique, and so are your children. Every child has their own learning style and strengths. Just because a particular approach worked well for someone else doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your child. Embrace the freedom that home education offers; there’s no concept of falling “behind.” Focus on what’s right and best for your child’s individual growth and development.

Tip 2: Get to Know Your Child Before Deciding on Your Educational Approach

If your child has been in school, they might need time to adapt to a new learning environment without the constraints of traditional schooling. Consider a “deschooling”* period to let your child rediscover the joy of learning on their terms. Observe their natural inclinations and behaviours, which will inform your educational approach.

Tip 3: Trust Your Parental Instincts 

You are your child’s best advocate and primary caregiver. No teacher, no matter how well-trained, can match your intimate knowledge of your child’s personality, needs, and desires. Home education allows you to provide a stable, nurturing environment that nurtures their unique journey.

Tip 4: Choose What Works for Your Family 

As a home educator, you have the autonomy to make choices based on your family’s circumstances and needs. You alone get to decide what you think will work for you, what outcomes you’re working towards, and what lifestyle you want for you and your family. Take responsibility for these choices and be confident in your decisions, even if they differ from others’ opinions.

Tip 5: Maintain a Positive Support System

Some people may question or criticise your choice to home educate. Establish boundaries and communicate that your decision is not up for debate. If the naysayers in your life are open-minded, but just unsure of your choices or unaware of what home education actually entails, you could point them in the direction of positive stories, like those you can find here on the Streams website. Seek support from experienced home educators and join local or online groups for encouragement and guidance.

Tip 6: Connect with Experienced Home Educators

You’ll find the best support and advice from those who’ve walked the same path. Search for local home education groups on platforms like Facebook or consider attending in-person events. If you need personalised support, explore mentorship options within the home education community. You may want to check out the Streams Mentors page and book a private consultation.

Tip 7: Be Confident in Your Choice

Confidence in your decision to home educate is crucial. Your conviction will influence your child’s attitude towards home education and help you withstand external criticism. Consider WHY you are choosing this path, and use resources like books, blogs, podcasts, and videos to address any doubts or questions. A confident parent can help make a confident child!

Tip 8: Expect Initial Challenges 

Starting something new can be daunting, so it’s normal to feel uncertain at first. But remember that thousands of parents have successfully embarked on this journey before you! When going for a swim in the ocean, some people jump right in, and revel in the sensation, whereas others might need to proceed slowly, allowing each part of their body to adjust to the temperature of the water before going deeper. Take your time to adjust. Avoid overwhelming yourself too soon; trust your instincts and keep things achievable.

Tip 9: Prioritise Learning Over Grades

Focus on nurturing your child’s love of learning, especially in the early years. Encourage curiosity, help them find answers to their questions, and introduce them to resources that pique their interests. A child who has been in school may be out of touch with their natural learning instincts – focusing on tests and grades is not conducive to a child becoming passionate about learning. However, if you have a child that is secondary school aged, you may want to take a slightly different approach if you (and your child!) are considering them taking exams – but remember there is a whole community of home educators out there you can call on for advice and support to go about this while still encouraging a love of learning.

Tip 10: Be Flexible and Realistic 

Lastly, don’t cling too tightly to idealistic expectations. It’s a bit like when you’re expecting a baby – you can have all these romantic ideas of being a parent, but nothing can really prepare you for the reality! For many families, after the introduction of a new baby, it can take a few months to get to a point where one can say “Ah, so this is how life looks now!” Just like parenthood, home education can be a learning experience for both you and your child. Expect a period of adjustment and adaptation. Give yourself permission to modify your approach as you learn what truly works for your family.

We hope you find these tips valuable on your home education journey. Remember, you’re not alone, and you’ve got a community of supportive fellow home educators behind you. Happy home educating! You’ve got this!

You can download an infographic of these ten tips below (either right click on the image and save, or left click and you’ll be directed to the pdf version!). Two versions are provided, one being more ‘printer friendly’ than the other!

*“Deschooling”: an adjustment period for both child and parent to rediscover the joy of learning free from school-type scaffolding which exists to benefit the institution; a time for parents to observe their child’s natural inclinations and behaviours, which will help the parent form their philosophical approach towards facilitating the child’s learning. However, it is important to note that Local Authorities do not recognise the benefits of a deschooling period, and will assume that no education is being provided. Think of it more as a period of adjustment, where a child can continue to learn in other informal ways which can be evidenced.

Become a Member

Sign up to free membership and...
Encouraging, equipping and connecting home educators
© 2024 Streams. All rights reserved.