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Getting Started with Home Education

By World Family Education

If you’ve decided to educate your child at home while living internationally, you may wonder how to get started. A few steps can help you prepare the educational framework your family needs.

Before reading the steps below, it would be a good idea to read the World Family Education descriptive page about Home Education to get an overview of this educational model.

Consider Your Family’s Educational Goals

If you foresee your child returning to their passport country, transferring to a traditional school, or going to university, then your home education plan should reflect that goal. Researching educational standards and expectations for the future will help you shape a plan that prepares your child effectively.  

It’s important to:

  • Check the laws and curriculum standards in your home country so that you won’t be surprised later.
  • Review the programs of instruction in schools your child may enroll in.
  • Be aware of university admission expectations, transcript requirements, and types of entrance exams.

World Family Education’s Home Education & Legal Issues page can help you understand more about laws related to home education around the world. It may also be helpful to explore the main types of curriculum being used in international schools at the International Schools Curriculum page.   

Two good informational sites are:

  • British National Curriculum — The UK government has posted its curriculum standards for all levels and subjects at this website. This is a helpful guide for students who will eventually take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and/or Advanced-level (A-level) examinations.
  • Homeschooling Laws by Province, State, or Country — This page by A2Z Home’s Cool features links to homeschooling standards/laws throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. It’s possible to use these pages as a homeschooling curriculum guide if you plan to live in any of these areas in the future.

Identify Your Educational Values

Home education styles differ dramatically because of the underlying philosophies that influence them. These are shaped by a family’s educational experiences and cultural background. Understanding your family’s values will help you decide which approach works best for your child.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing curriculum prematurely. It can be a waste of money and effort when you later realize the curriculum doesn’t fit your family’s needs at all.

World Family Education’s Perspectives on Education page can help you identify your family’s educational values, and then visit the Approaches to Home Education page to explore some genres of curricula that have emerged to express these perspectives.   

You can further explore home education models with these external articles:

  • Homeschooling Styles — A thorough description of different ways of educating children at home from The Homeschool Mom.

Reflect on the Way Your Child Learns Best

Home education is a wonderful way to teach your child in a manner that suits them well. Evaluating your child’s learning preferences will also help you narrow the scope of choices for learning resources and curriculum.

The idea that students have learning styles is not universally accepted as an accurate model to base the educational experience on, but it can help you identify the type of curriculum that would be most effective for each of your learners.

In a similar way, as your child’s teacher, you should identify your own learning and teaching preferences, as this will have big impact on your perception of a curriculum’s value.

Some good sites about this topic are:

  • VARK — VARK is an acronym for visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic, which are four key learning preferences. The VARK site, which can be loaded in multiple languages, has a questionnaire to help identify preferred learning styles and also gives strategies for instruction.
  • Learning Styles Online — Offers an inventory for identifying learning preferences and an overview of seven learning styles.
  • Learning Styles — A section at Skills You Need covering learning styles and understanding yourself as a student.
  • Learning Styles — Several pages by The Homeschool Mom detailing different types of learning styles.

Explore Resources

These may include books, online help, community, and learning tools. The term “curriculum” does not merely refer to the textbooks or packages that students use. It should encompass your philosophy of education, your family’s educational goals, and a broad selection of means to accomplish those goals.

Sometimes a textbook package will be the right curriculum for your child. At other times, your curriculum may include hand-selected books and materials for many different subjects. The best curriculum will be different for every family.  

If you are looking for home education curriculum based more on the homeschool movement in the USA, one of the best places to start is with Cathy Duffy’s book 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. In this essential guide, she discusses the types of curriculum and learners (and how to match them), and then offers reviews of the best curriculum available. Much of the review content is also available on her website Cathy Duffy Homeschool Curriculum Reviews.

Here are some of the main resources you can use on your home education journey:

  • Curriculum Packages

These are the classic “homeschool in a box” options where all the materials for the main subjects are included in a package. Many resources are available if your family plans to homeschool in English. World Family Education’s Approaches to Home Education page discusses some of the main types of curriculum and lists a few of the most popular options in each.

You may choose one option as a complete package for your child, or you may blend different kinds of curricula. These options usually require that you order book packages by mail. Non-English curriculum options are limited, and it may be helpful to order individual textbooks online or before leaving your passport country.

  • Online Education

Numerous online educational options are available, from full school programs to supplementary instruction. To explore the use of online resources, visit World Family Education’s Online Education Options page.

  • Textbooks/Reading Materials

It’s possible to educate your child mainly with textbooks that align with the educational standards of your passport country. Try doing a Google search for textbooks online, and you will likely discover free or low-cost options. (One parent uses this formula to search online: Type in “grade 5 math textbook pdf” in the search bar. Simply replace the grade/academic level and subject with those you are searching for.)

Purchasing textbooks may be a good option if you plan to homeschool in languages other than English.

Having access to good books is a key component of home education. You can purchase textbooks and other books from a variety of global booksellers. World Family Education has a few recommendations on the Buying Books Internationally page.

  • Free Educational Resources Online

World Family Education’s Free Online Educational Resources page lists some wonderful sources of materials for all ages and subjects that are completely FREE. Included are language-learning sites that you can use wherever you are living. Some homeschooling websites, such as AtoZ Home’s Cool, provide free curriculum.

  • Support/Community Groups

One of the best resources to find information and help is in communities of home educators in your location. These groups also provide great social opportunities for your family. Start your search for connections in your area at World Family Education’s Home Education Community Groups by Location page.

  • Special Needs

If your child has special needs, either educationally, emotionally, or physically, you may need specific resources for them. For more discussion on this, visit World Family Education’s Children with Special Needs page and Special Needs Resources by Location.

Some other sites that offer articles, educational materials, and community for those educating special needs children at home are:

Plan the Learning Environment

The environment, roles, and schedule you maintain for your home education experience is an important part of the puzzle. These decisions will reflect your family’s perspective on education and the needs of your kids. For example, if your value is to replicate a traditional educational experience, you may have a dedicated room set up as a classroom, your role as teacher may be very different from your role as a parent, and your schedule may be very concrete. However, if your value is more student-driven education, then the learning environment, roles, and scheduling may be very different. No matter your preference, being intentional and clear about these choices will be a big help.

Recognize That It’s a Major Transition

World Family Education has several pages dedicated to Transitions, and the transition to a new educational system is a big one.

It might be helpful to consider beginning the transition to home education a year before making a transition to a new country to minimize the stress that multiple transitions can bring. Families often report that it can take a full year for the home education experience to hit full stride and for much educational traction to be gained. There are many new roles and routines to adjust to, so being intentional about planning for this is important.

Some home educators call this adjustment period “deschooling” — when your child shifts from traditional schooling to a less-restrictive mode of learning. Among other things, this will involve discovering your child’s true interests and finding a new rhythm and daily schedule that work best for you. Experienced homeschoolers recommend taking your time in this process, especially if your child has had a difficult or challenging educational history.

Some practical ideas for this adjustment period are found at: