Traditional schooling - is there an alternative?


Chinese parents often ask me about the education system in the UK. Some of the more common questions I will answer here straight away are: 


What are the differences between a Chinese kindergarten and a English nursery?


Essentially a Chinese kindergarten is more structured to certain ‘lessons’ throughout the day compared to an English nursery where children are often left to their own devices and are able to play, learn and explore in their own way. The typical english nursery has a big open space that encompasses indoor and outdoor areas. Throughout the nursery there will be many different areas, such as a painting area, a water play area, a sand area etc.


What age does a child start school?


Children generally start at age 4 or 5. These are infants, key stage 1.


How long are the school days? 


Most schools start at 9.00am and finish at 3.00pm. They have an hour for lunchtime, and two playtime breaks.


How much homework do students receive?


In primary school, very little, almost none. Secondary school varies, on average perhaps 1 hours worth per day.


Are there any differences in teaching methods? 


Teachers are more on ‘students’ level, rather than ‘us and them’ mentality. There is more discussion in the classroom and seating arrangements tend to be grouped together, rather than students sat individually. Teachers have slightly more flexibility in what content to teach and how to deliver it, although still have the 'national curriculum' intwined.


What are the exact stages in the education system?


Early years education starts from age 3, where the children attend a nursery. Most nurseries teach the EYFS (early years foundation stage), some may use an alternative curriculum, such as Montessori. Children start primary school at age 5 or 6. Ages 5,6,7,8 is termed ‘infants’ and for ages 11 and 12 they are termed ‘juniors’. Children begin secondary education at age 12 up until the age of 16.





One question that I don’t get however (which I often wonder why I don’t) is ‘can you choose to go to school?’ To answer this question simply, yes you can!


In fact, in many countries parents can choose if to send their child to school or not. Homeschooling is a growing phenomena. It is particularly prevalent in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All of which it is perfectly legal. 


China does also have a growing homeschooling movement, although technically it is illegal in the mainland (except for foreign children). In Hong Kong and Taiwan it is legal. Other countries around China, such as Japan and Thailand it is also legal, and growth can be seen there too. 


The question then, why would a parent consider to homeschool their child? A quick internet search on the topic, and you’ll get a flurry of answers. As a teacher myself, I know this is a hot topic.


Here are my top 10 reasons why I think parents choose to homeschool their child:


Homeschool reasons


As you can see, some of these reasons do certainly give a good argument to homeschooling a child, but in reality it will never become mainstream as the logistics of it are simply not feasible for many people. If you’re in a position however, then you may want to give it a serious consideration.


We have recently  created a forum which has a homeschool information section. We'll be adding to it as time goes by, so be sure to get involved if this topic interests you! Click here to go to the forum.

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