Do You Need A UK Homeschool Curriculum- And If So, Which One?
In this post I outline the different types of UK homeschool curriculum, as well as how to decide if your home educating family actually needs one. Many people think that a homeschool curriculum is compulsory, but this isn’t true- in the UK families can home educate with or without a curriculum.
My Favourite UK Homeschool Curriculum (Super Affordable & FUN!)
If you are looking for a quick recommendation for the best UK home education curriculum, my absolute #1 piece of advice is to try the cross-curricular themed activity packs from Curious Little Monkeys Educational Resources. I have home educated for 10 years and these homeschool resources created by qualified teachers and home educating parents are hands-down the best way for home educated children to engage with gentle, fun, structure in my opinion.
If you have reluctant learners, feel overwhelmed with lesson planning or don’t know where to begin with home education, these packs are absolutely brilliant- themes include Minecraft, Dinosaurs, Harry Potter, Rainbows and more and they are available as instant downloads and beautiful hard copies. If you’d like to know more about different types of UK homeschool curriculum, read on!
I started thinking about home education & UK homeschool curriculums when my eldest daughter was a newborn and I now thoroughly enjoy homeschooling my three children as a single parent. I share my advice and experiences with other parents considering or undertaking homeschooling in my home education blog posts. My most popular posts are:
- Can You Home Educate On Benefits/ A Low Income?
- How Much Does It Cost To Homeschool (inc. exact monthly figures)
- How To Start Homeschooling: A Beginner’s Guide
- What Is Unschooling & Who Does It Work For?
- How Does Interest Based Learning / Unschooling Work?
- How Do Home Educated Children Take GCSEs/ A Levels?
- How To Find Homeschool Groups Near You
- How Do Home Educated Children Socialise?
- How We Home Educate: A Typical Day In Our Life (3 kids, single working parent)
- How To Home Educate Children Of Multiple Ages
After extensively researching the home education, including which UK homeschool curriculum to use, I was pretty sure I wanted to home educate but still looked around a small private school to see if it could sway me. Although there were many aspects of it that were lovely I remained confident that home educating was what I wanted to do.
I researched homeschool curriculums intensely before starting home educating to find something that was fun, engaging and cross-curricular, and I have continued to try different ones and keep an eye on what comes into the market. Purchasing a curriculum can be a great way to have on-hand activities and resources if:
- Your child has recently come out of school and you want to keep some kind of routine
- You would like your homeschooled child to take the usual exams such as GCSEs
- Your child may go into school at a later date and you would like them to keep up to the same year standard as their peers
I will now outline how to decide if getting a curriculum is best for your homeschooling family, and how to choose one, below.
What To Consider While Picking a UK Homeschool Curriculum
When considering which homeschooling curriculum to choose, take into account the following four factors:
- Cost. Depending on your budget (see what we spend each month on home education) you may wish to use the many free online homeschool resources for learning, choose affordable individual learning modules, or purchase a whole yearly curriculum at once.
2. Time. Do you like the idea of having a slot of time each day to go through prepared activities, or would you rather go with the flow and see what your child wants to do?
3. Interests of the child. Instead of purchasing a complete curriculum with maths, english, history, geography, religious education and other subjects in one homeschooling curriculum package, you may wish to buy individual modules focused on one subject area such as “Minecraft”.
4. Your patience and parent-child relationship. There is no point in buying a curriculum if it is going to be a source of misery to you or your child. Your child will learn a lot more from a happy trip to the park with you than an hour sat with you both frustrated over a worksheet. I outsource most sit-down work to the two teachers who run my girls’ homeschool group, and I’m very thankful for this!
What is a Homeschool Curriculum?
The dictionary definition of curriculum is: “the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college”. Please note that the subjects chosen in any curriculum- school, homeschool, college or otherwise- do not necessarily reflect what a child will need for life.
There is no way to ‘cover all your bases’ with either a school or homeschooling curriculum; it is simply a path to follow.
I say this because some people think that you have to have UK homeschooling curriculum, when they aren’t a legal requirement or necessary for all children. They are simply a resource to use to help on the educational journey, and should be treated as such.
List of Homeschool Curriculum Types
The spectrum of home education ranges from doing the national curriculum at home during school hours (this can take as little as an hour a day because of the high adult to child ration and fewer distractions/ interruptions), to using an alternative homeschool curriculum, or a child-centric philosophy such as unschooling and everything in between. Some often-talked-about methods or educational philosophies are:
Traditional Homeschooling (National curriculum at home)
Homeschooling in a traditional manner using the National Curriculum may perhaps suit some families with children who have had to leave school temporarily, and who want to ensure they stay learning the same things as their school peers for a time. The required provision for a UK local authority to provide a child temporarily out of school (for example, for reasons of illness) is just 5-6 hours of tutoring per week; this begs the question what the rest of the time spent at school is for!
That leaves a LOT of time for other fun stuff! If you don’t mind doing a lot of planning yourself I would recommend a selection of the Collins Easy Learning workbooks for primary children, and you can get a good idea of how to deliver the national curriculum to your child with the updated National curriculum handbook.
If you would prefer to invest in a full curriculum where everything is organised for you, and you as the parent have minimal planning to do, I have heard great things about the Horizons homeschool curriculum. It incorporates all the usual subjects, is easy to purchase for each school year and is completely ready and laid out for you to deliver without having to plan your own lessons. At the moment I believe it is shipped from America.
An alternative to national curriculum books is to outsource to a UK online homeschool program.
Online UK Homeschool
There are several UK online homeschool companies that will provide your child with online classes and tutoring to enable you to homeschool online. Generally these companies follow the national curriculum and will teach your child in an online homeschool style so that parents don’t have to plan and deliver lessons.
Companies that provide a form of UK online homeschooling include IXL, Oxford Homeschooling and Wolsey Hall Oxford. I do not recommend Interhigh as the home educating community have been reported to local authorities under the guise of ‘safeguarding’ when using their services.
Project-based Home Education
Think Scandinavian-style, with learning divided up into more holistic projects than subjects. Using a theme such as “The Romans”, “Dinosaurs” or “Minecraft”, children explore lots of different aspects of learning through a specific focus.
Lapbooks are popular way of creation projects but this could incorporate anything- making food dishes, dressing up, visiting relevant sites and museums, creating and directing a play, making pieces of artwork, etc, all around the subject. This kind of curriculum usually needs to be put together and planned by parents but if you’d like some ready-made, here are some excellent themed cross-curricular project based unit studies.
Christian Homeschool Curriculums
Christan home educating families may decide to purchase a Christian homeschool curriculum that encompasses learning about their chosen religion; this may include scriptural and moral education too. The Horizons curriculum is an excellently reviewed, all-round homeschool curriculum that includes a Christian-inspired focus on health, spiritual growth and wellbeing as well traditional topics and subjects.
Although there are some Bible studies included, these can easily be left out if you would prefer to use it as a non-religious curriculum. Alongside the Horizons curriculum, this beautifully written book ‘Homeschool Bravely‘ is a great first read for Christian parents considering homeschooling their child, or those who sometimes wonder if they’ve done the right thing by homeschooling!
Charlotte Mason Homeschool Curriculum
Developed in England in the 19th century, this method encourages children to focus fully on their task as long as they are developmentally capable for, and to prioritise a love of learning over rote facts. The arts and nature are big players in a Charlotte Mason home educating family household.
The book below, the Charlotte Mason Companion, is exceptionally helpful for parents wishing to use Charlotte Mason’s ideas in homeschooling- it contains day to day methods, advice and explanations of the principles as well as personal encouragement, parenting tips, insight and humour into the homeschool life.
Worldschooling: Rather than a specific curriculum, Home educating families who use travel as a primary method of education. We did worldschooling during our family gap year in Asia when our children were 6, 5 and 2- you can see a typical day in our worldschooling life here.
A lot of families who apply this term to themselves are nomadic, i.e., permanently travelling. Some of my favourite bloggers are Worldschoolers! We travelled for a year through Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and ‘world schooled’- you can see our blog posts from this time in our travel section.
Autonomous Education (Unschooling)
This philosophy is underpinned by the idea that children do not automatically need structured curriculums, or to be forced to learn any particular topic or subject. Good unschoolers will watch their children carefully to ensure that they provide a good environment whereby children can progress in things that they love and are good at, while also being prepared to offer resources to help in the less confident areas. See everything we learned in one unschooling day.
This does not exclude classes, structure at home, clubs, workbooks etc; it simply means that the child gets to choose which of these resources they use. You can read more about this philosophy in my post ‘what is unschooling?’
UK Homeschool Curriculums: In Summary
Although you do not legally need a curriculum in order to home educate, investing in one may be beneficial if you like to have activities ready to go instead of coming up with every activity yourself.
Some people find it really useful to have a curriculum- if you or your child are people who like organisation and structure, having the set plan of a curriculum may be of benefit to you. My personal advice would be to purchase modules based on your child’s interests such as the Curious Little Monkeys Educational Resources – this way you can test the waters of using fun curriculum for just a few pounds!
You may also be interested in the following posts:
Check out our complete collection of UK home education blog posts.