Who chooses to home educate?

Originally published on who-chooses-to-home-educate

voorlezenThe group of parents who choose to home educate is very diverse. They can be found across society, and represent many different life philosophies and religions in the Netherlands. Together, they form a small group of people with one characteristic in common: they are all committed and motivated parents who, after a thorough investigation, made a deliberate decision in which the well-being of their children plays a central role.

Background of home educating parents

The background of home educating parents varies widely. Home educators include carpenters, professional writers, scientists, ICT experts, therapists, legal experts, entrepreneurs, etc. In practice, all these parents turn out to be perfectly able to educate their children. This has been confirmed by many studies undertaken both here in the Netherlands and internationally.

Home educators do have some characteristics in common: they are all curious, engaged, inquisitive and broad-minded. And they are keen to help out other home educators in their own areas of expertise, which often leads to workshops being organised on mathematics, biology, handcrafts and many other subjects.

Home educating mother of a boy (8) and a girl (6): ‘I am still really happy about our choice to home educate. It is a lot of work, but I love to be so involved in my children’s life. We often go on fun excursions, the children have a lot of time to play with their friends in the neighbourhood and I try to cover the learning materials with them in the most fun way possible. They are so curious that learning happens automatically; they are just like sponges, absorbing everything!’

Life philosophy

Parents who home educate make use of their right to an exemption from compulsory education on the basis of Article 5, clause b of the Compulsory Education Law. This article states that parents can make use of their right to an exemption from compulsory education if there is no school nearby that matches their life philosophy. In order to make use of this Article, a number of conditions must be met. In addition to Article 5, clause b, there is a large group of home educated children who fall under Article 5, clause a of the Compulsory Education Law. This Article grants exemption from compulsory education if a child is physically or mentally unfit to attend a school. When referring to home education in the context of this website, we specifically refer to children who have been granted exemption on the basis of Article 5, clause b of the Compulsory Education Law. To find out more about the legal aspects of home education, see here.

Home educators are representative of the diversity that is characteristic of the Netherlands: they include Evangelists, Humanists, Holists, Old Catholics, Jews and Reformed Protestants.

Children in all shapes and sizes

The group of home educated children is also very diverse: artistic children, children with a genius for maths, chess champions, gifted children, children who find academic learning challenging, and regular, middle-of-the-road children. There are children with behavioural or medical problems. There are children of primary school age and children who are completing secondary education. Home educated children come from both large families and small families.

Every child and every family has its own approach. A large family will require parents to have developed organisational skills, while parents with a single child will need to provide enough variety and social contacts. By adapting the learning method to the child, any child can have a good education, irrespective of his/her learning style, talents, interests, or age.

Mother of a boy (14) and three girls (11, 6 and 1): ‘We are not really different from our friends with school-going children: we like to explain things to our children, we talk with them a lot, we like to do fun things as a family, and we like to meet with friends. We just have more time to do all this, because the individual lessons are very efficient. It’s great to see how children learn in all situations, how concepts suddenly become clear to them and how they develop socially. And I like to have the extra time and attention to help them when they struggle.

Of course I don’t know everything. Sometimes, I ask for outside help, in the form of music or sports teachers. But I also often really enjoy learning together with my children. My grand-father always said: “You keep learning new things throughout your life”. And he was right.’

In short

There is no such thing as a typical home educator, just as there are no typical Dutch people. The home educating community reflects the diversity of Dutch society. What unites us all as home educators is a love of learning and a love of our children. Are you curious about the people behind home education? Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


Some examples of studies on the effectiveness of home education

[1] Kunzman, R. & Gaither, M. (2013). Homeschooling: A comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 2(1): 4-59.

[2] Kohnstamm studies

[3] Blok, H. (2002). De effectiviteit van thuisonderwijs, een overzicht van onderzoeksresultaten. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Onderwijsrecht en Onderwijsbeleid, jaargang 14, nr. 4, p. 151-163.

[4] Ray, B. D. (2004). Home educated and now adults: Their community and civic involvement, views about homeschooling, and other traits. Salem, OR: NHERI Publications.