In my last post, I mentioned the other Great Leap we’d taken in our lives lately. It’s nothing wildly exciting, but it is a bit different to the norm and it could be hugely relevant to FI-focused parents.
For the past year, our youngest two children have been home educated.
You won’t believe the reaction and puzzled looks we’ve received from friends and other people when we tell them our children don’t go to school anymore. People just cannot get their head around this.
This reaction has reinforced our own recent realisation, through our discovery of FIRE, that we have been conditioned throughout our lives to accept the ‘norms’, and with a little thought and planning there is no need to follow the prescribed route.
So what’s the relevance to FI? Well, home education (HE) is EXTREMELY FIRE friendly. In fact, if you were planning FI to coincide with your children leaving school, then this is a post that might help you bring forward your FIRE schedule. Why restrict yourself to thinking that you have to send your child to school from 5 to 18, and tying yourself down for 13 years?
Just like FIRE, home education has freedom at its core. There are no requirements to follow a particular timetable or curriculum, no need to sit tests or exams and no need to educate in any particular style. If you choose to travel Europe as part of your child’s education, that’s fine. Learning can be structured or informal, or a mixture of the two. HE parents don’t need qualifications or teaching skills, just patience and time to facilitate learning.
In terms of day-to-day expenses, there are no uniforms to buy, no transport costs, no school trips or holidays, no dinner money or school fundraising events. Whilst there’s no financial help from the government, home education is as cost-effective or expensive as you want it to be. Any costs will be driven by your interests, needs and circumstances, not those of school. Your child might want to take formal qualifications eventually, but some further education colleges now accept students from 14 to study vocational courses and GCSEs, or they can be taken privately at exam centres.
We weren’t thinking of costs at all when we deregistered our youngest 2 boys (we hadn’t even thought of FI then!) Our reason to HE was driven mainly by their happiness, or rather the lack of it, in school. (As a side note, our other 3 children still attend school and are quite happy, but we are now questioning if this is the best route for them, too.)
How did we do it? – We knew HE existed, but, in our conditioned state, we never gave it much thought. We thought it might not even be legal.
WRONG. HE is legal in all parts of the UK. For children in a mainstream school, all parents need do is de-register*. But that’s probably a long-winded, court-ridden process, right?
WRONG again. It only takes as long as the time needed to write a letter or email to the child’s school. The letter can either give notice of the child’s deregistration or be sent in place of the children. It is the school’s duty to inform the local authority. That’s it. Ridiculously straightforward.
‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive an efficient full-time education suitable a) to his age ability and aptitude, and b) any special educational needs he may have, either by attendance at a school or otherwise.’
A year on – and have we any regrets? Actually, yes we have. We regret thinking about it for so long (a full 12 months), but like most people, we thought of school-based education as a given, just like we thought retiring early would be impossible, but we now realise the freedom that both FI and HE offer are accessible to all.
On a final note, our recent ‘awakening’ has opened a Pandora’s box of further questions – about life in general, HE and FIRE – that we need to answer.
I’d love to hear other people’s thought/ideas on home education.
Has this post opened up your thinking/options on school-based education?
Is HE something you’d consider or have considered for your family?
* England & Wales: If your child is at an ordinary school then the school must delete your child from the register; you do not normally need permission to HE.
Special schools: If your child has special needs and attends a special school you need permission to deregister.
Scotland and Northern Ireland: You need permission.