Qualifications can be obtained through colleges, however some do not take students under 16. You would have to enquire at your local college.
7. What sort of space and equipment to we need?
You do not need any specialised equipment, nor do you need to take school home by providing a classroom, desks etc. Access to a library and a dining room table for writing and projects is fine. It all depends on how you intend to approach learning at home.
8. What about socialisation?
One father, when asked about how he was intending to provide the same social environment that his son would get at school replied "No problem. Once a week I intend to take him into the bathroom, beat him up and steal his lunch!"
Jokes aside, before addressing this question it is important to understand that the social life at school may seem 'normal', but it is far from the realities of adult life. The chances are extremely remote of you ever again being in a situation where you are in a large group of people all the same age, for a start. Home educated children socialise with all age groups. Girls and boys play together and don't find it at all strange. There is none of that silly teasing 'ooh, she's your girlfriend!" involved. Ugh!
Older children help the younger, and the youngsters learn from the older children. All this happens in a natural setting with parents around, not strangers who are simply trying to maintain crowd control. This involves the effort of getting together with other home educators, family, and also friends who do attend school.
Home educators do have to make more effort to socialise, just as normal people do in everyday life. Think back .. while you may have met friends at school or work, the best and lasting friendships are those where you spent time in each other's homes.
Many people seem concerned that their children won't learn to cope in 'difficult situations'. Why throw them into the lion's den to teach them? People will always have problems to deal with and home life isn't utopia. Children learn to deal with situations with their siblings and friends all the time. It is much more useful to have parents on hand to show the way, one step at a time. Older children, as they gain more independence, cope without their parents being around.
Our children learn from how we deal with others on a day to day basis. Also, it bears thinking about that as an adult you have choices which a schoolchild doesn't have. If you are ill-treated in the workplace you have legal recourse. If you don't like your job or your boss, you can resign. Schools try to put systems in place to deal with bullying but often it is dealt with too late, and too little. Parents are responsible for their children and can't expect teachers to do any more than teach particular school subjects. By the time the child tells their parents of the problems they are experiencing at school, and by the time something is done about it, the child may well be scarred for life. He or she may also then be labelled as weak or a tell-tale. He or she may cope by becoming a bully too. Is that the best way to learn?
Children who spend eight hours a day at school get advice, direction and an assessment of their self-worth from their peers. They learn how to handle subordinates by the example of teachers and older, usually nasty, children. At best, they learn that it is safest to be 'average', to be like everybody else. At worst they learn they are different, labelled 'dumb', 'unpopular', 'slow', 'nerd' or whatever. It is small wonder our world is in such a mess when we have learned relational skills from the school playground!
9. I just couldn't cope with my children home all day!
The strange thing is that when children have been 'deschooled', they are usually a pleasure to have around all day! When our own children attended school, we found holidays a nightmare. They wanted to be entertained, kept busy all day. They didn't know how to follow their own interests or to create their own entertainment.
Small children can drain energy resources, and often parents are eager for the day they can go to school so that they can have some time to themselves. The need for some space and personal time is very relevant, but is sending them to school the best way to achieve that? Is it possible to get support from family? Perhaps get together with another parent and give each other a break?
We have found that one of the most important life-lessons our children have learned from being home educated is that they are responsible for themselves and their own attitudes govern how they feel. School made them think there should always be a 'programme' or schedule to follow. Other people made things happen. At home they have the responsibility of making things happen. Very often we do things together. Sometimes the children generate the ideas and sometimes we do. Often, however, we each have our own tasks to attend to or simply feel like being alone or resting. It is life and we live it. Children need to learn that you need your space too, so that you can be refreshed and energised to give them the best that they deserve.
By sending children to school, this lesson is never learned. Instead of holidays and weekends being a time of family togetherness they become an extension of the expectations learned in school. Parents long for term time and sigh when the children rush in after school every day. How sad.