Homeschooling at Key Stage 1

Starting homeschooling at Key Stage 1 might mean that your child has never been to school, or that they have been for a year or two. Whichever is the case, this post explains what you need to consider when home educating at the Key Stage one ages.

Key Stage 1 covers school years 1 and 2 so children at key stage 1 will be 5, 6 or 7.

A note on language: In my posts, I refer to “homeschooling”. In the UK, the correct term for educating your child at home is “home Educating”, with homeschooling referring to a child doing work at home that has been set by school. I use the the term homeschooling in my posts because many people who are new to home educating will use the term homeschooling when searching online and I want to make sure they can find the information.

Starting Homeschooling a Key Stage 1 if your Child has never been to School

If you didn’t send your child to Reception (which is part of the Early years Curriculum that comes before Key Stage 1), you won’t actually need to inform anyone that you will be home educating. Home Education is actually the default on England so if you don’t enrol your child in school then they are automatically assumed to be home educated.

If you have applied for a school place but have now decided that you don’t want it, you’ll just need to inform the school that you no longer require the place. Children don’t become registered with a school until the the first day they attend so if they haven’t actually started you won’t need to deregister, just let them know you don’t require the place.

There is currently no legal requirement to inform the Local Authority or anyone else that you are home educating although they may find out from other sources.

Starting Homeschooling at KS1 if your Child is in School

If your child is currently attending school, you will need to deregister them in order to start home education. You can do this by sending a reregistration letter to the head of the school (this post has a deregistration letter template you can use).

The school then have a duty to inform the Local Authority that your child has been removed from roll and is now home educating.

Once you have deregistered you should have a look at the Elective Home Education guidance for your country. Here are links to the English Guidance, the Welsh Guidance, the Scottish Guidance or the Northern Irish Guidance.

The Local Authority

The local authority has a duty to identify children who are missing education and as part of that, contact home educating families to ensure they are providing a suitable education for their child/ren.

They will start by making informal enquiries and while you don’t legally have to respond to these, if you don’t they can assume that no education is taking place and begin proceedings for a school attendance order.

While the local authority may offer you a home visit or video call, most home educators prefer to keep communication in writing to avoid misunderstandings and keep a paper trail. You can decline visits and instead offer a retrospective report on the education you are providing.

You can find out more about your rights and responsibilities in this post on the local authority and by reading the Elective Home Education Guidelines.

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The Transition from Year 1 or 2 to Home Education

If your child has been attending school there is likely to be a transition period when you change to home education. This will be for both parent and child.

You may have read about the need for “De-schooling”. This is where both parent and child let go of the expectations of school and start to see the learning that can happen in less formal ways.

Remember that education needs to start from day one. While de-schooling can be seen as not providing education, there will still actually be lots of learning happening, it just won’t look like the “formal” learning that happens at school.

The theory is that deschooling takes 1 month for every year of school a child has competed. In my opinion it really depends on how the child has experienced school. De-schooling will be much quicker if they have only experienced the play based curriculum of the Reception year. It will be much longer if they have found school to be a traumatic experience.

It is often the case that parents take longer to de-school than children because they have had much longer to absorb the school based idea of learning. The post on how home education doesn’t have to look like school has some suggestions for recognising less formal learning.

What do you Have to Teach?

There are no specific rules about what you have to teach your children when they are home educated. The law states that you must provide a full time education appropriate to their age, aptitude and abilities, but doesn’t state what that must include.

Case law has established that the education should prepare the child to live in their community and not stop them from being able to function in other communities. Most local authorities feel that in order to do that, children will need to develop literacy and numeracy and have the opportunity to develop social skills.

You can find out more in this post on what you need to teach your child.

Key Stage 1 SATS and Homeschooling

SATs (Standard Assessments Tests) take place towards the end of Key Stage one. The aim is to measure children’s knowledge in reading, writing, maths and science. There is no need to worry about your child missing SATs because they exist in order to make sure the school is efficiently teaching what it is supposed to, so have no relevance to home educators.

The same goes for the Phonics Screenings that take place in year 1. Homeschooled children work at their own pace and don’t need to be compared to other children in their progress.

Literacy at Key Stage 1

When the local authority get in touch they will want to know that your child is making progress in literacy. This doesn’t have to look like English does at school. Literacy is about learning to read and write in the way we need to for living life.

Your child may or may not be ready to start learning to read and write at 5, 6 or 7. Many countries don’t start until children are 6. If your child isn’t ready, don’t panic. You will likely naturally be focussing on pre literacy skills that lay the groundwork for reading and writing later on.

The key pre literacy activity is reading to your child. Looking at picture books together, reading them recipes when you cook, telling them what signs say when you’re out and about, are all ways of showing your children reading in the real world.

You can also undertake play activities that develop fine motor skills for example, play dough, clay, threading beads, mixing ingredients, using safety scissors and craft activities.

Once they are ready you can move on to mark making. This can be things like chalk, colouring, drawing, painting and crayons. Painting a fence with water is a great one to do in the summer.

Numeracy Skills at KS1

Like Literacy, development in numeracy skills is something else that the local authority will expect to see when they make their enquiries. As with literacy, numeracy doesn’t have to look like school maths and is about using numbers in the real world.

You can start by using numeracy language, things like before or after, bigger or smaller, more or less. You can also put items into order by size.

There are lots of ways you can incorporate counting into everyday life. We used to count the seconds down when waiting for the microwave and count the stairs when going up and down. Number hunts can also be fun, encourage your child to find numbers when you’re out and about. The works well for shape recognition too.

As they progress you can start talking about adding numbers together and show how it works using items like building blocks or sweets.

Most children are interested in money so that’s another easy way to incorporate numeracy into everyday life.

Socialising for homeschooled 5, 6 and 7 Year Olds

The local authority will want to see that your child isn’t becoming excessively isolated as a result of home education. In most areas there are plenty of activities and meet ups that go on for home educated children. If you search Facebook for “home education” and the name of your county or town, you should find some local to you.

You’ll likely find some free meet ups that take place in local parks as well as a range of activities for home educated children that take place during school hours. In my area there is dance, drama, football, athletics, gymnastics, arts and crafts, boardgames and many more.

You will also often find home education trips being set up to local places of interest. These usually save you money as you often get the group or schools rate, and are a great opportunity to meet other home educating families.

Remember that socialising doesn’t just have to happen with a peer group. Talking to the librarian or the shop keeper, asking the zoo keeper questions on a trip, spending time with extended family, all offer great opportunities to develop social skills.

This post discusses how homeschoolers socialise in more detail.

Homeschooling Resources for Key Stage 1

While you don’t have to use any particular resources for home educating, there are plenty available. Some are free resources and some have a charge. Below is a summary of the types of resources available and some examples for each.

Workbooks for Key Stage 1

Workbooks for Key Stage 1 can be easily and cheaply obtained in shops like The Works. There isn’t a great deal of difference between brands so it’s really down to what suits your child the best.

If you’d prefer to buy online, the CGP “Targeted Study and Practice” books are a popular choice with many parents. They include the basic information and then practice questions to apply it. They cover maths and English topics and are separated into year 1 and year 2. CGP also cover some science, history and Geography in their “Discover and Learn” series.

Worksheets for Homeschooling at KS1

There are a variety of places you can get worksheets for years 1 and 2 when you’re homeschooling:

  • Twinkl – Twinkl has a vast number of resources for 4 – 16 years olds including worksheets. There is some free content or you can subscribe to get access to more. They sometimes offer home educators discounts through their home education Facebook group.
  • Worksheet Resources – Worksheet Resources offers a number of free worksheets for early learning concepts
  • Learning Resources – Learning resources offer free worksheets on a wide range of Key Stage One topics
  • Teachit – Teachit offers lots of free resources, you just need to sign up for a free account to download them.

Websites for Key Stage 1

There are lots of websites that offer learning resources for children, some are free and some are paid.

  • BBC Bitesize – Bitesize offers lots of resources for learning at key stage 1 age. They cover art, citizenship, computing, English, maths, geography, history, music, Religious education and science. They include plenty of videos, quizzes and games to keep it interactive and it’s all completely free.
  • Oak National Academy – Oak National Academy was set up during the pandemic and provides free video lessons at key stage 1 level for art, design technology, drama, english, maths, science, geography, history, music, PE and religious education.
  • The School Run – The school run is a subscription service where you can access resources for KS1 maths, English and topic work.
  • IXL – IXL is a subscription website with some free content that offers practice questions for KS1 in maths and English
  • Doodle Learning – Doodle learning is a subscription service that teaches maths and English. There is a limited amount of free content and then a monthly fee.
  • Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds – This pair of programmes teach reading and maths respectively through a staged programme. There is a monthly charge after the free trial. Both of my children got on well with these.
  • Teach Your Monster to Read – This a great free reading programme from Usbourne books that my youngest really enjoyed.

Online Lessons

While many online lessons are aimed at older children, there are some for the Key stage one age group.

  • Learn, Laugh, Play – Learn Laugh Play offer a range of lessons for Key Stage One aged children including lego, computing, maths, phonics, crafts, history and languages.
  • £2 Tuition Hub – The £2 tuition hub offers live lessons or recordings in lots of different subjects including phonics, maths, science, performing arts, music and coding.
  • Theatre of Science – Theatre of science offers free online science lessons including a weekly all ages home education science lesson and a lego story time. You can watch live on Facebook or catch up on YouTube.

Online Schools

Online schools offer a full provision, covering all subjects and often include things like assemblies and extra curricular activities. They can be an expensive option but useful if you are combining home education with working. The following online schools cover key stage 1:

If you have older children you might find our posts about home educating at key stage 2, home educating at Key Stage 3 or home educating at key stage 4 useful.

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Mum and 6 year old home educating, text reads "How to start homeschooling at Key Stage 1"

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