Government Rules on Age and Hours of Study for Children

There are no formal rules by the Government, Local Education Authority or any other curricula body regarding the number or nature of hours a home schooled child has to undertake. Usually no home school education is the same: there is no average day, or lesson, or term; the nature of the educational method,style and learning will vary for each home studying family.

Home schooling philosophies usually regard all kinds of learning as educational, including life experiences. This means that ‘learning’ or ‘studying’ will usually be redefined from that which a school might emphasise. Instead of a lesson on maths taking place with a calculator or textbook, a home schooled maths lesson might involve practicing trigonometry by measuring shapes in a local park.

Where education is so flexibly defined, it would be difficult to calculate the number of studied hours per day. Although at another home schooling family’s lesson, however, that maths could very well involve a calculator, schooling room and textbook, it would still not be necessary to timetable the day’s home schooling: the law states that each child must be given an adequate education, but does not spell out how that education must be provided.

Starting a Home Study Education and Timetable

Although there is no obligation to follow any kind of educational pattern or order within home schooling, many parents opt to ‘deschool’ their child just after he or she has left school, in order to have a period of regaining confidence – especially if a child has been bullied at school – and to get used to the freedom of home schooling. During this period a home school child might become develop more of a sense of curiosity and interest in learning for its own sake.

At this stage, it’s regarded as an especially good time to avoid set numbers of studying hours or timetabling, even if you attend to follow a particular educational philosophy within the home schooling education. Help your child to enjoy their freedom, learning in new ways such as on walks in the park, visiting museums, or through games, for example.

Some home schooling educations – ‘unschooling’ – continue in this way; with a child-led education where the child learns most about the topics which interest him or her, only asking for parental help when they want it. Other types of home schooling prefer to draw up their own timetable or follow a curriculum. This is not compulsory, but some children prefer the element of structure that it can add to their education. Some children appreciate a timetable chalked up on a wall or blackboard, which might just list the subjects planned for the week or might be more ordered than that; others like to use textbooks, set curricula or computer software, for some or all subjects. Find useful resources for textbooks and curricula in book shops, libraries and online.

The Importance of Encouragement in Home School Education

Whether a child is ‘unschooling’ independently or following a more structured timetable with their parent, what is really important is that the parent shows an interest and encourages the child’s learning. If the child sees the parent reading for pleasure, they are more likely to follow that pattern; likewise, learning together, looking up questions and answers and visiting places like libraries, exhibitions and museums can re-awaken intellectual curiosity. Be flexible about learning opportunities – if a particular event comes to town, be prepared to put down any kind of timetable you have created to pay a visit – new learning opportunities can crop up in unusual places.