1.2.4 Parents are educators
All parents are active informal educators, whether or not they work in conjunction with their child's professional educators. Parents support their children's learning in all aspects of their lives, and children learn from participating in family life. These may include:
- overseeing and participating in the preparation and sharing of meals
- being involved in the care of other family members (siblings, grandparents)
- participating in shopping and errands
- experiencing family and community gatherings
- making journeys
- sharing books, stories, songs, video, DVD and television with parents.
Some parents extend their involvement by formally becoming 'home educators'. A survey of more than 100 families in England and Wales (Cassidy, 2005) found that a high number of parents felt their children were unhappy in a formal setting, often because they were being picked on Parents believed that these children could thrive when removed from such negative experiences and educated at home.
Otherwise, a charity that began in 1977 in England with 250 members and supports parents who take on home education, estimates that, in England and Wales in 2005, some 170,000 children were being taught at home by their parents (Cassidy 2005) but estimates are often contested. It's important to remember that when children are home educated it isn't just the parent (most often the mother, in fact) who educates. Home education is more about children learning in a family and community context. This involves many productive and supportive interactions between older and younger children (whether they are siblings or children from other families) but also with other home-educating adults. Home education can be seen as structurally and socially very different to formal education settings where children are, in the main, grouped with others of a similar age - the 'babies room' in a day nursery, for instance.
Professional educators, unless they have been home educators themselves, tend to know very little about how parents organise home education and how they help their children to learn. Doubtless, you may yourself have experience of home education, but those who choose to educate at home do remain in a minority.
The Badman Review (DCSF 2009) estimated that there were approximately 20,000 children and young people who were known to the local authorities as being educated at home.