Home-schooling: A Yorkshire father shares what life is really like teaching children at home

With the number of families electing to home educate rising following the pandemic, we find out what life is really like for a Yorkshire family whose ‘first choice’ school is home.

Almost 50 per cent more families elected to home educate during Covid 19 in Leeds, meaning that they elected to take their children out of school.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sheffield Council also saw hundreds more deregistrations - the biggest single increase the council has ever seen.

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Pre-Covid 19, families cited anxiety and lack of disability provision as their reason for home educating.

Ian Thursfield runs the Zero Waste store Leeds Refills with his familyIan Thursfield runs the Zero Waste store Leeds Refills with his family
Ian Thursfield runs the Zero Waste store Leeds Refills with his family

Now, Covid-19 and anxiety are the most common reasons given for homeschooling but there are still a high number of parents who did not explain why, according to Sheffield City Council.

Yorkshire father-of-three, Ian Thursfield, 34, wanted to ensure his children experienced holistic child-led learning and were not under “constant stress” at school.

Ian said that his eldest child, Imogen, seven, is allowed to choose what she wants to learn each day.

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He said: “She gets to socialise each day with kids of all ages in all environments, not just kids her own age in a classroom.

“We didn't want the kids to be under the constant stress of exams and testing - that for a long time are only testing the school - on a very narrow curriculum.

Ian is also father to Elanor, four, and Oren, three months, and said Elanor is not ready for school due to spectrum challenges for which she is currently being assessed.

Many parents and carers who helped their children with their schoolwork during the pandemic may feel like they got a taste of what home education would be like.

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But Ian, who runs Leeds Refills Zero-Waste store in Hyde Park, said that’s a common misconception.

“People think Home Ed is what schools made them do over lockdown,” he said. “This couldn't be further from the truth, as that was structured learning over a whole day.”

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He said the main taboo however is the myth that children miss out on socialising if they home educate.

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Ian added: “The kids socialise with more kids than those in school, and all different ages.”

He said that home education families support one another.

“The community in Leeds is lovely and we all help each other out. We share advice and expertise with our learning,” he added.

What does a week in the life of a home educating family look like?

Ian said other than a couple of set events such as trampolining, clip ‘n climb, and sports day, “it's all ad hoc that people organise as one off events.”

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Every family is different but Ian's middle child goes to nursery Monday-Thursday while he homeschools his eldest.

He said: “Monday is our ‘relax day’ so a little bit of online learning but no rush, sometimes some family swim and some games.

“Tuesday involves swimming for both the oldest and middle child, gymnastics for the middle child and trampolining for the eldest.

“Wednesday is a nature walk for the eldest (while I work) and some learning with mum.

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“Thursday I do a cycle ride and family swim with the eldest and visit a cafe for food. In the afternoon they both sleep at grandad's.

“Friday they spend with grandad and do big days out with him while I'm in the shop.

“Saturday is the eldest’s gymnastics and sports day for both of them. Middle child does dance class and then we spend the day in the shop as a family,” said Ian.

He said that his kids provide comic relief in the shop, they entertain other children and his eldest Imogen can do the weighing and calculator.

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“Sunday is junior park run and either everyone is in the shop or they all relax at home while I work,” added Ian.

Have you decided to home educate your child? What’s a week in your life look like? Tag us @yorkshirepost @sophiemeilan