By World Family Education
Sometimes the best option for families living internationally is to educate their child at home. Home education, also known as homeschooling, can range from highly structured to a completely unstructured approach to educating children at home using a curriculum selected to meet the needs and educational philosophy of the family. Using this curriculum and other resources, an adult — typically a parent or tutor — helps the child study several core subjects such as mathematics, history, languages, science, and geography.
OVERVIEWBenefits of Home Education
- Home education offers the most flexibility for location and travel.
- It offers the most parental involvement in designing and implementing the educational experience.
- It can be a good option for students with special needs living internationally.
- It allows a family to stay together and develop strong working relationships.
- It can help maintain language and cultural ties to the home country.
- It can create more time for family interaction with local culture.
- There is a potential for integrating many local resources for a well-rounded experience.
- There is a very large number of home education resources to choose from.
- The cost of home education is relatively low.
Potential Difficulties of Home Education
- Although many resources are available, finding and accessing them may be difficult in some locations.
- Finding and choosing from the many curriculum choices available can be daunting.
- Home education requires a significant time investment for at least one parent.
- Many parents may not feel adequately equipped to teach, especially as students get older.
- There is potential for isolation from social and educational opportunities.
- There may be a limited home education community in the area.
- There may be limited outside support and guidance in educational decisions and process.
- Host and home country laws and expectations may not support home education.
- It may make obtaining visas more challenging than other options.
- The pace and content covered may be different than traditional schools, making transitions difficult.
- Poor curriculum choices and implementation could impact potential to transition into other educational settings.
Things to Consider
- What are your long-term educational goals for your children? Where will they go to university?
- What are the attitudes toward home education in your home country and your host country?
- How would you describe your perspectives on education? (purpose, role of student and teacher, etc.)
- How would you describe your learning and teaching style?
- How would you describe your child’s learning style?
- What kind of time commitment are you able to make toward home education?
- What resources are readily available in your area, and what resources will need to be sourced elsewhere?
- How confident do you feel about being the primary educator of your child?
- How would home education impact relationships within your family?
- What will social implications be for your child if you are home educating?
- What do you need to know about you child’s learning and emotional needs to be a successful teacher?
- How does your child feel about home education?
- Will you be able to accept a significant transitional period while getting used to new roles and routines?
- Do you have access to information and support for your home education journey?
- What will the roles of the mother, father, and child be in the home education process?
- How formal or informal do you want the home education experience to be?
Why Choose Home Education?
There are many reasons parents choose this style of education, including:
Every family is unique and will have its own reasons for pursuing home education. Additional reflections on why homeschooling is a great option for families living internationally are found at Mothers Abroad, Gringos Abroad, Expat Living, and World Travel Family.
Attitudes Toward Home Education
Attitudes toward home education differ around the globe. Some countries offer complete legal freedom to families who homeschool, while others have outlawed it. In some locations, home education is legal but rarely practiced. It’s best to research laws and practices related to home education in your home country as well as your host country.
You can begin by reading the World Family Education page about Home Education & Legal Issues for more information and help.
It is also important to consider the cultural perspective on home education in your host country. In some cultures, it will have very little social or cultural implications for your family to be “outside the box,” while in others it could have an impact on your family’s relationships.
It would be a good idea to connect with others already in your host country to get a sense for how the culture would relate to your family homeschooling.
Styles and Methods
The style and methodology of home education will vary with every family. Some prefer a more formal schooling environment, and may set up a room with desks to create a classroom atmosphere. Some would rather use an unstructured approach with little curriculum and more hands-on activities and experiences.
The choices a family makes regarding homeschooling style is greatly influenced by their educational values. Determining these values is a critical first step in transitioning to home education. Read more about this at World Family Education’s Perspectives on Education and Approaches to Home Education pages.
Whatever the reason a family decides to homeschool, resources are available to make the experience successful. Most resources will be aligned with a particular model of home education.
Thousands of curriculum options are available, so your family may use just one or blend several. In countries like the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, home education is a popular choice, and curriculum, teaching ideas, and support groups are widely available online. The cost for these resources and supports vary widely, and it’s even possible to educate your child at little-to-no cost at all.
Community and activities outside the home are a vital part of home education. Socialization concerns are significant for most families considering home education. It may take some intentional effort to make sure children do not spend all of their time at home in isolation.
It will be important to find social connections and opportunities to interact with other adults in social and coaching/training relationships. Families that settle in one location for a longer period of time can help their child focus on special-interest subjects or join home education cooperative groups. World Family Education has compiled a list of Home Education Community Groups by Location.
Usually home education involves testing, grades, and transcripts. What this looks like largely depends on the laws and expectations of your home and host countries. For example, UK-based models have less emphasis on records and grades than on standardized test results, while models based on education in the USA emphasize records and grades rather than standardized test results.
In many locations, home educators are required to connect with the country’s formal education system in some way. Often this means that the family must report to a local school and submit grades and portfolios for verification. Even if this is not the case for you, keeping thorough records is always a good idea. It becomes even more important in the older years as students get closer to college or university.
Homeschooled students are highly attractive university applicants in some locations. Read more at Business Insider.
In most cases, a homeschooled student does not earn a diploma, unless they participating in an accredited educational option such as an online school. However, North American colleges or universities determine admission by using transcripts and/or standardized test results, not a diploma. In the UK and similar systems, the results of a standardized test are the primary way colleges and universities determine admission.
Read more about high school records in the USA based in the World Family Education’s articles about Designing High School for Home Education (USA) and Documenting High School for Home Education (USA).
A note about “homeschool centers”: In some locations, homeschool centers (also called learning centers) are becoming popular. Creating a homeschool center allows a group or business to set up a “school” without registering as one. The term “homeschool” is used because the center typically utilizes a curriculum package (usually Christian workbooks) designed for home education. There may or may not be trained teachers overseeing students as they work independently. These centers do offer some opportunity for social interaction, and the better ones will include supplementary activities and experiences outside of the workbooks. These centers are usually not able to grant accredited primary school certificates, which may be needed to transfer to secondary schools. And as students get older, the focus at these centers often shifts to helping students pass a national or international exam for admission to higher education.
More Helpful Resources
A2Z Home’s Cool — Comprehensive site based in the United States about home education. Includes resources for curriculum, special needs, laws, events, etc.
Fearless Homeschool — Encouragement, support, techniques for successful home education from an Australian blogger.
Homeschool.com — Curriculum, products, and services for families educating at home. Also includes articles and community pages. Site based in the United States.
Simple Homeschool — Many resources and reflections related to homeschooling from a parent’s perspective. Site based in the United States.
The Homeschool Mom — A lot of information about where to begin with home education, curriculum reviews, legal information, help with teaching specific subjects, and more. Site based in the United States.
Home Education Advisory Service — UK-based organization that helps parents explore the world of home education. Information about educational materials, resources, GCSE examinations, special educational needs, information technology, legal matters, and curriculum design.
You can also explore a few blogs (there are many!) by families living internationally who are educating their children at home:
A Muddy Life — American unschoolers in Senegal.
Mixed-up mama — Iranian-Canadian and Nigerian parents homeschooling in the UK.
Raggamuslims — Jamaican unschoolers in Oman.
Homeschooling in Egypt — American homeschoolers.
World Travel Family — Family from the UK and Australia traveling around the world and homeschooling.
Travel Teach Talk — Scottish family in France.
The Pinay Homeschooler — Filipino homeschoolers in Eastern Europe. Numerous learning resources for homeschooling in the Montessori style of early childhood education.
Mavis Manns — Ghanaian family homeschooling around the world.
A Momma’s View — Swiss homeschoolers in Australia.
Momsicle Online — Filipino homeschoolers in Dubai.