Actually, that blog title is misleading. School is NOT optional in many countries. In fact, home education has come under increasing pressure and restriction in the quarter of a century that I have been involved in the movement.
But if you are reading this blog in the UK, US, Canada, or Australia, then yes, be assured. It is still legal to home educate your child.
What that legal is though varies from country to country, sometimes state to state, or even local council to council.
That can make it all incredibly complicated. How do you even find out what your rights and responsibilities are as a parent and home educator?
First of all, if you are NOT in the one of those countries, then how can you find out if home education is an option?
Wikipedia has a pretty clear chart with many larger countries listed.
A2ZHomeschooling offers a good overview for individual states in the US and territories in Canada and Australia.
In the UK, you should be aware that education is a devolved power. That means the rules are different for England, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, and the Isle of Mann. A couple of good overall resources are:
Home Education Advisory Service
The most important thing to remember, no matter where you live, is:
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
Never assume that the government officials or even those home education websites are on your side, especially with for-profit groups that may be trying to push their services or products.
If you are going to assume full ownership for your child’s education, then your first responsibility is to find out the facts for yourself. Especially before you engage with any government officials, most of whom are teachers and administrators with no understanding or training in home education. While some may appear friendly or helpful, most have a clear bias.
If you are not required by law in your country, state, or local authority, whatever that may be, to meet with them, provide reports, or allow them into your home, then I recommend that you don’t. Unfortunately, the ideology of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to home educators.
But even knowing the law does not give you the full story. Because even if you know it, the government official you are dealing with may not, or may even believe they don’t have to abide by it. I recommend that you quickly get in touch with your local (as close to you as possible) home education group. Try Facebook first. Even you don’t or can’t go to meetings, these folks are your best source of insider information.
And remember that bullying, which may have been one of the reasons you choose to home educate your child, is a mindset that begins in the administration of many schools. You may find that choosing to home educate makes you the target instead of your child. But as the adult, hopefully, we are a bit more able to manage that unacceptable behavior. If not, then turn back to that local group for the support you need.
That should be enough information to get your started because choosing to home educate means that you, too, become a learner. And trust me, after five children and a quarter of a century as a home educator and advocate, I am still learning.
So, tomorrow, we get down to the nitty gritty, where the rubber meets the road, as we explore some of the differing home education styles.
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