An increasing number of people in the UK are choosing to home school their children due to problems with bullying in school. It is of course the natural reaction of a parent to want to move their child away from stressful or dangerous situations and shield them from harm. But is home schooling the right option for a child that is facing bullying?
The first step is to establish how seriously your child is being bullied. It is fair to say that many, if not most, people are bullied or picked on at some point in their life. For most, the problem is short-term and does not significantly impact their well-being, but for a few the problem is severe and has a lasting psychological impact. Start by speaking to your child and determining how long the bullying has been happening for and what exactly has been said or done to them in order to gauge the severity of the problem. Be aware that some children can have a tendency to exaggerate, whilst others may attempt to downplay their problems. Talk to members of staff at your child’s school to see if you can build up an accurate picture of exactly what is happening.
The next step is to make sure everything possible has been done to eliminate the problem. Speak to your child’s teachers and take the issue to the headteacher if necessary. Talk to your child about the steps they should take when they feel they are being bullied. It may be, depending on the situation and age of the child, that you could speak to the parents of the child accused of bullying (this is to be done with extreme caution and sensitivity; no parent wants to hear that their child is a bully).
If the problem continues, it could be worth requesting that your child move classes. You could even consider a change of school.
Aside from the general drawbacks of home schooling (for example, a decrease in income if one parent gives up work), there are some specific considerations for parents whose children have been bullied. It could be argued that withdrawing a child who is struggling socially at school may increase their anxiety around social interaction. By withdrawing your child from school, some say you are teaching them to avoid social challenges rather than learn how to solve them.
Another consideration is the impact that home schooling may have on your relationship with your child. If your child has had a difficult time, spending all day at home with their parent may add to their feelings of isolation and stress. This could put a strain on your relationship with your child and impact their learning.
If you’ve done everything in your power to prevent your child from being bullied yet the problem persists, then home schooling may be the best option. Every child should enjoy learning and feel happy and safe; if home schooling is the only way to do this, then it is the right thing to do. If you do choose to home school, it is important to ensure that your child is still meeting regularly with their peers through meet-ups with home schooling families, organising social events with friends or extra-curricular clubs and activities. By doing this, you will be able to structure positive social situations for your child and teach them skills for socialising. You may decide that home schooling is the right long-term option, or your child may eventually feel ready to return to school.