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24 September 2014

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You are in: Dorset > People > Your stories > Home schooling

Home ed

East Dorset Home Ed families

Home schooling

Why are over a hundred Bournemouth families teaching their children at home? BBC Dorset investigates the growing trend for home schooling among families here in the county - and discovers that they're hardly at home at all.

It could almost be a class trip. A dozen children are running around Moors Valley Country Park, burning off their excess energy after lessons. But this is a school trip with a difference - these children don’t go to school at all.

June Wilson-Billing is a mother of four children, who she educates at home. She started to think about home schooling after her eldest daughter India was refused a place at primary school. Rather than defer a year, or send her to a different school, she decided to teach her at home.

That was the start of a love affair with home schooling. Now all four of her children are taught at home, although June thinks that’s a misnomer: “Home schooling isn’t at home at all. It’s educating in the community. We meet up with other families, go to museums, parks, the shops. I teach my kids life skills that are going to be far more useful than what they might learn in school.”

Home ed children

June’s 11-year-old daughter Trinity agrees: “I prefer being at home. My best subject is art as I love drawing.” That’s the benefit of home education, according to June – children can explore their own talents without being forced into a school timetable.

June’s sister-in-law Hattie Wilson teaches all five of children at home. “This week we’ve been looking at dinosaurs. It’s amazing how a topic like dinosaurs can cover all sorts of subjects from Biology to English and Maths. The other day, we made a human timeline in the garden, with each of the children standing at a different period in history. They loved it – the more practical the learning is, the more they get from it.”

Another mother at the park is Joy Bison. She started teaching her sons after the eldest, 12-year-old Gordon, started getting bullied at school. “I was surprised to hear that he wasn’t happy at school as he always seemed to have lots of friends, and was involved in different activities like orchestra. But when I asked him if he wanted to be taught at home, he was really enthusiastic.”

"Home schooling isn’t at home at all. It’s educating in the community."

June Wilson-Billing

But do the children have enough opportunity to interact with other kids if they’re taught at home? When I ask the question, Hattie just laughs. “Just look around the park,” she says. “And tell me that my kids aren’t sociable. You can’t stop children from playing with other children – they just will.”

“There are plenty of after-school clubs, meetings with other home ed families and summer camps for them to make friends,” adds June. “There are probably over a hundred home ed families just in the Bournemouth area so the argument that we’re just at home, on our own, doesn’t work anymore.”

June’s friends, though, aren’t totally convinced. “The most common reaction is ‘you must be mad’ followed by ‘I don’t know how you know enough.’ But that’s not the point – you’re not supposed to know everything. You learn together as a family.”

“My kids are always asking questions – why does it snow, why does it melt, why does it fall sideways?” says Hattie. “If I don’t know the answer we go home and look it up on the internet. That way we get a much more rounded education too as parents.”

last updated: 04/04/2008 at 11:00
created: 26/01/2007

Have Your Say

Do you teach your children at home? Or would you rather sit a week of detentions than start home schooling? We want to hear from you!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

I teach my two at home after my eldest experienced bullying in school. It is the most perfect thing I have ever done. What we don't know, we research and learn together. Our whole family is closer, stress is virtually non existant, the children are happy. And yes, they do socialise. With real people from the real world. Not with a class of 30 same-age children who they probably won't know in 20 years time! Their 'teacher' doesn't spend the day stressing and filling in paperwork, or tidying and setting up lessons. The world is their classroom.

Jax Blunt
Yes, I educate my children at home, and it works very well for us. As well as local groups and activities there are national email lists and camps and we have friends and go to events all over the country as well as attending local groups nearer to home.

With my yr 6 child getting bullied and my yr 8 child not getting the right support for an ADHD child, I keep seriously thinking about home educating all three of my children...

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