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Communal homeschooling - does it exist?!

(43 Posts)
kate00 Tue 22-Apr-08 21:29:20

Hi -
Please forgive the possibly naive question. Our son is due to start in reception in Jan next year, and we are considering the option of homeschooling him. However, we don't know much about how this might work.

We are interested in the idea of becoming part of a homeschooling community where different families share in educating each other's children. (Mainly, this is because we feel our son would benefit from lots of different inputs into his education. He currently attends nursery school and thrives on the external stimulus.) I am assuming such a community would need to have a shared educational philosophy and similar ideas about how to put this into practice.

Do such communal homeschooling arrangemets exist? Part of our problem is that we are new in the UK, and don't have very good social networks here in general. We would hope that by becoming involved in homeschooling, we might widen and strengthen our community involvement. The risk would be that we stay rather isolated, which is the last thing we want.

I would be very gateful for any information that might help us better understand what kinds of homeschooling networks exist in the UK.

P.S. We are in South London

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kate00 Tue 22-Apr-08 21:43:53

Erm... hard to know where to start with answering that. Are you suggesting that the only difference between home education and the school system is the number of children present?

wabbit Tue 22-Apr-08 22:15:56

Hi Kate

There are such communities and there are various options of how parents want to tackle the 'schooling' of their children
Since september I have been employed by a group of parents who don't have the option of alternative education (such as montessori or steiner) in the area.

Some parent co-operatives share the teaching between them, utilising specialisms and maximising the variety of experiences they can offer. This would take a great deal of trust though and many home schoolers teach their children on their own for this very reason.

there is an organisation called Education Otherwise who have been going since I was homeschooled as a lass

They will probably give you lots of pointers and may well have info on parents home schooling in your area.

hope this helps

kate00 Tue 22-Apr-08 22:35:14

Thanks wabbit. Your point about trust is a key one. It is still quite a few months until our son is due to start school, so I thought it was a good time now to start sussing out possible networks of likeminded people. I'm really interested to hear if anyone on this site has home educated in this shared way with other parents.

I will check out Education Otherwise.


Julienoshoes Tue 22-Apr-08 23:06:43

There are thousands of home educating families Kate, but not that many of them do so in the way you describe-but such groups of families do exist.

My suggestions would be to have a look at the main HE websites and familiarise yourself with how things work in this country.

The main websites I would suggest looking at are
both of these websites have links to local groups and also internet support-as linked on the "how to find other home educators" thread.
I know that many areas of London have localised groups, it would be well worth searching and finding other home ed families close to you and going along to a meeting for a chat.
Also joining one or more of the national HE support lists to be found on these pages and posting about your query may well find others who are like minded.

Home Education in the UK is another excellent site for resources and information

HE-Special-UKResources and information for families with children who have special educational needs.

Muddle Puddle is a webpage especially for HE families with children under 8 years old. Home also to the Early Years support list.

Home Educating in Worcestershire

ShrinkingViolet Wed 23-Apr-08 12:56:29

You'd need to be quite careful how you structured something like this in case you end up needing to be registered as a school (and subject to all the OFSTED and other regulations).

seeker Wed 23-Apr-08 13:02:52

I think it might be called a "school"

<I'll get my coat>

EruvandeAini Wed 23-Apr-08 13:22:36

I have some American friends who do this. They call it a 'co-op'.

mybestfriendiscalledstig Wed 23-Apr-08 13:27:19

There is a sort of mini-school thing near us that operate as a 'support for homeschoolers' - they provide 2 hours or so of very relaxed, small group teaching & also help parents hook up outside of that. Not sure that its what you're looking for (& suspect its quite expensive)

AMumInScotland Wed 23-Apr-08 15:12:11

I believe from something I've read on another forum that if you were providing full time education for 5 or more children (from different families) you could end up being defined as a small school, and therefore subject to a lot of regulations.

I think what tends to happen more often is that families get together perhaps once or twice a week, to do a specific subject or just socialise. But you may find there are groups in your area which do something more organised.

Runnerbean Wed 23-Apr-08 15:33:32

I HE two dds nearly 5 and 9. We get together with other HE families and pay a tutor for french, history and latin. Although we do adequately manage to do these subjects at home it is sometimes good to have another teaching perspective and the social one as well. They play games, haves discussions and do crafts too.
Yes I know this is like being in school but it is in a very small group only 4/5 children and of different ages.
It is an opportunity for the mums to socialise while the dc's are occupied too.

Runnerbean Wed 23-Apr-08 15:34:17

Where in South London Kate00?

kate00 Wed 23-Apr-08 22:59:24

Thanks for your replies. Julienoshoes - thanks for all the web links; I will check them out.

Runnerbean - we are in Clapham. *Waiting hopefully now for Runnerbean to inform me that there is a homeschooling co-op near Clapham*

Runnerbean Thu 24-Apr-08 08:34:28


There is a South London Home ed google group (SLHE).
I believe there is a group near Dulwich or Sydneham that has group lessons but it is for older children.
I've just noticed your ds is only 4/5, so very young to be worrying about "schooling".
The SLHE list will help you find local get togethers and educational trips out though. I know lots of HE families inthe Dulwich area with young children. I'm in Eltham.

kate00 Thu 24-Apr-08 20:55:57

Thanks Runnerbean.

4 doesn't seem young to me to be thinking about schooling options, because if we don't homeschool him, he'll be having to start school in Jan at the very latest... We're not in any hurry for him to be in any kind of structured schooling environment, but we do want him to have access to varied and stimulating learning opportunities, and we don't feel equipped to provide that entirely on our own.

Fillyjonk Fri 25-Apr-08 09:22:41

Are you considering communal homeschooling because you are not sure whether you could homeschool alone?

I would quickly get in touch with your local HE group to see if there is anyone else interested, but also to talk to others with small kids.

even if you were part of a co op I would guess most other parents would only be interested in a very p/t set up? Maybe a day a week?

I would not be able to participate in a co op personally. Firstly, I honestly don't think my son, at nearly 5, would sit still for long enough to benefit from a co op. Also, I have 3 kids under 5 and just couldn't give ds or the co op the attention I tend to find he needs if there is a formal structured activity going on, so we avoid those.

otoh I don't really believe in formal stuff before about 7.

kate00 Fri 25-Apr-08 14:31:00

Fillyjonk - I don't think of communal homeschooling as going hand in hand with a child having to 'sit still'. The kind of thing I'm think of is, like, on Tuesday mornings my kids might go to A's house to do baking. On Wednesdays B's kids might come to the park with my kids to play cricket. On Thursday afternoons all of us might go to C's house to do art together.

I really have no idea about homeschooling, but is this the kind of thing people do? I'm not imagining big groups of kids sitting together for lessons - I'm imagining a semi-structured set-up where children regularly go to other houses to do different stuff from what they get to do at home...

lilyfire Fri 25-Apr-08 15:51:15

Hello - we're not far from you as we're near Earlsfield. My 4 1/2 yo son hasn't got a place at primary school yet and the more I think about it the more I like the sound of HE. I'm also worried about isolation though. I'm trying to explore HE activities in SW London, but so far have found more in SE London. Have joined EO and waiting to hear from them. We've met a HE little girl locally and my son gets on with her and they often spend an afternoon together, really just to play. I'm hoping that, if we do decide to HE (he's due to start school in Sept and is at nursery until the summer hols) we can meet other HE families so we can go places together etc. I'll let you know if I find any groups in this area.
Runnerbean -I tried to find the South London Home Ed google group and failed. Prob am putting in the wrong thing. There is a SW London and Surrey borders yahoo group.

Runnerbean Fri 25-Apr-08 18:25:18

Hi lilyfire,

You can email

and request to join this group.

lilyfire Fri 25-Apr-08 20:06:35

Runnerbean - thanks very much. I will email them.

Fillyjonk Sat 26-Apr-08 08:39:15

hi kate,
my last post was unintentionally terse, was bfding and pressed send w/o previewing, sorry.

I think it is very common to have arrangements like this in place, yes.

Our week goes something like : Monday, go out, generally with other homeschoolers somewhere vaguely educational (though sometimes this is softplay grin) , Wednesday, go to local group, Friday, go to local group. Then Tuesday and Thursday are free for us to do our own thing, or have friends over, or whatever.

Local HErs have also set up groups specifically for studying one thing, eg music, science etc.

I think the problem you MIGHT run into would tend to be agreeing on a "curriculum", not to mention how to teach, etc. Eg a music group for one family might be a way to teach songs, for another to have the kids enjoy dancing, but for my family we would be more interested in either how instruments worked, or learning to play, say, the recorder. Similarly science-some parents will focus on experiments, but we tend to see what the kids get up to anyway and give scientific explainations of that-we might do an experiment to back up teaching but we don't especially want to give the impression that science is about those bloody baking powder volcanos (sorry, particular bugbear).

oh dear I am a naysayer!

Sunnylondra Sat 25-Apr-09 14:52:58

Dear all,

I see that I'm a year late for this thread, but cooperative/communal homeschooling, or sharing the cost of a tutor with other home-educating families, is exactly what I'm interested in. I live in Camden with my 7 year old daughter - would anyone be interested in getting together with us?? Please do reply if you are at all interested!

chatterbocs Tue 28-Apr-09 08:16:38

You'll soon get to know other homeschoolers. We regularly meet up with another family to do some project wok & we take turns at each others home, then every other week we hire a dance teacher & do dance & we also arrange school trips, today I've arranged a school trip, we are off to a glass museum with 3 workshops included, there are around 25 children coming. I only took mine out last year & have made loads of contacts. It won't take you long.

grimalkin Tue 07-Jul-09 03:25:12

Hi all,

I have just started HS with my 12 year old son. We have been skating at Streatham, go for a weekly workout at Peckham Rye Common courtesy of outdoor gym (great fun!) and practice French with downloads from

He has written a couple of poems, a few essays and does ongoing research on geology. It's a relaxed approach with no schedules which he enjoys. However, I also feel he would benefit greatly from weekly Maths - his favourite subject - in a group setting.

Does anyone happen to know how I can get in touch with The Woodlands Club in Dulwich that meet weekly for Maths, Science and English?
I tried sending an email via the contact details I was given on the EO website, but didn't receive a reply.

I would be extremely grateful to receive any further information on this or any other HS group/parents in Southwark.

Many thanks,


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