Homeschooling at KS3 [Key Stage Three]

Homeschooling is different for each age and stage of a child’s life. As children get older, their capabilities grow and they need different things from their home education. This post will cover some of the key things to be aware of when starting homeschooling at Key Stage 3,

Key Stage 3 refers to the work that is covered in years 7, 8 and 9, that make up the first three years of high school in the English school system. Children in KS3 are between 11 and 14 years old. 

Starting Homeschooling at Key Stage Three

In order to start homeschooling at key stage 3 you simply need to write a letter to the school instructing them to remove your child from the school roll because they are now home educated. You can find a template for the letter and information on how the school might respond in this post on deregistering.

Many parents worry that they won’t be able to teach their child to the level that is taught at high school. The thing to remember is that you are there to facilitate learning rather than actually teach. We are lucky that there are lots of resources available and we can learn alongside our children.

For homeschoolers who have never attended school or have chosen not to follow the National Curriculum at all, the concept of KS3 isn’t relevant. However for home educators who want to follow the National Curriculum and those whose children have come out of school during this stage of their education, it can be significant.

Deschooling

Deschooling involves giving both you and your child some time to let go of the school mindset. How important this is and how long it will take depends on the reasons your child is coming out of school. A child who has found school traumatic is likely to need more time to get over it than a child who has had no issues at school.

It is important to remember that the local authority expects learning to take place from day one and often interpret the term deschooling to mean that no learning is happening (so it’s best not to use it with them). In fact learning will still be happening while your child deschools, it will just look very different to school learning. Have a look at this post on how home education doesn’t have to look like school.

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.

What Topics Should You cover in KS3 when Homeschooling? 

As with all stages of home educating in the UK, there are no rules about what you have to cover. While the Local Authority will expect to see that your child is progressing in literacy and numeracy, how that looks is up to you. What you choose to cover will depend on your approach.

Do You have to Follow the National Curriculum at KS3?

No, home educator do not have to follow the National Curriculum. While the local authority like to see that your child is making progress in numeracy and literacy, that doesn’t have to be the same as school or cover the topics covered in Maths and English.

The National Curriculum for KS3 covers a wide range of subjects. The government provides a comprehensive overview. It’s very unlikely that you would want to cover everything that is covered in schools during years 7, 8 and 9. 

We were initially in a position where our son was planning to return to school at some point in the future but we still didn’t try to cover the whole curriculum. We have focussed on Maths, English and Science because these are the subjects that really build on previous learning. 

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Literacy at Key Stage 3

Most people feel that literacy is important for children and it’s important to remember that it is literacy that matters to local authorities rather than English. The English done in schools at KS3 is the study of both language and literature. Literacy is about the use of language in everyday life.

Literacy can be learnt by reading and writing. Reading doesn’t have to mean reading books, it can be reading comics, magazines, road signs, recipes, game instructions, product labels and millions of other words that children will come across in everyday life.

In a similar vein, writing doesn’t have to be formal. Writing lists, greetings cards, text messages, emails, typing in online chats, creating comics and writing recipes are all great ways to practice writing.

If you want to cover literacy in a more “school like” way, as we do because of the possibility of going back as well as a wish to take some GCSEs, you can. We read a variety of books together and discuss them as we go, talking about what the writer has done to create different parts of the book. For English Language we practice different types of writing like letters, articles, stories and reports.

Numeracy at KS3

Like Literacy, Numeracy is different from Maths at school. It’s about learning how to use maths in everyday life. Things like using ratios to adjust recipes, calculating percentages to work our discounts in a sale, using fractions and division share out food or using addition and subtraction to calculate takings at a car boot sale.

If you want to take a more formal, school type approach, then there are lots of maths programmes that you can use. If you are intending for your child to return to school but are on a waiting list, most schools publish their curriculum on their website. You can use it to identify gaps in knowledge that you need to focus on.

Following Your Child’s Interests

One of the main advantages of home educating is that you can follow your child’s interests and that’s no different at KS3. At this age children are often starting to think about what they might like to do as a career and this can be a great time to explore those ideas before it’s time to decide which qualifications, if any, they want to take in the coming years.

Remember that watching a YouTube video and then having a go at something is just as good (if not better than) taking a formal course.

Getting Started on GCSEs

While children in school don’t take their GCSEs until Year 11, homeschoolers can take their GCSEs whenever they are ready. They could also start work on an alternative qualifications that some homeschoolers take instead. If they want to do GCSEs, they can spread their GCSEs over 3 or 4 years rather than taking them all at once.

At Key Stage Three you may just want to start covering the course materials for subjects you know they will be taking but plenty of homeschoolers take one or more GCSE exams towards the end of KS3.

Don’t forget that GCSEs are optional for home educated children and some don’t take them at all. Don’t feel under any pressure to start them if you or your child don’t want to. This post summarises the post 16 options without GCSEs.

Socialising with KS3 Aged Children

While a lot of homeschooling meet ups are aimed at younger children, we’ve had no problem finding groups suitable for our 12 year old, in fact there are way more than we have time to attend. If you join your local home education Facebook group and ask about groups for older children it’s likely you’ll find some. 

You can also start your own group meet ups or arrange one to one meet ups if your child isn’t keen on groups. One of the downsides of homeschooling is that socialising takes more effort on the parents part but often it results in much more positive social experiences than those had in school.

KS3 Homeschooling Resources

There are a HUGE variety of resources available from the completely free to the eye-wateringly expensive. Here are some of the main types of resources for homeschooling at KS3, you can find a more general guide in our homeschooling resources post.

Online Schools 

Online schools essentially provide a full Key Stage 3 education for your child via a computer screen. They are one of the most expensive options but can be worth considering if you don’t have the time to dedicate to planning your own curriculum. 

They are very structured, with set lesson times and some even have tutor time and socialising time. If your child didn’t enjoy the structure of school it’s unlikely they will get on with an online school.

Some examples of Online Schools are:

You can find our more in this post about UK Online Schools.

KS3 Homeschooling Books

You can do KS3 learning from books if that’s a method that suits your child. Unfortunately there aren’t a huge number of KS3 homeschooling books, the main ones are:

  • CGP Books – They offer revision guides which have a summary of the information, Workbooks for answering questions and revision and practice which has a bit of both.
  • Collins – As above, three different types of books available.

Bear in mind that these books are written with schooled children in mind aren’t designed to teach the content of the subject from scratch.

KS3 Homeschooling Worksheets

While similar to using books, worksheets can offer a bit more variety as you can source different types and try different providers. While you can find some free worksheets online, many if them are aimed at younger children, most sites will charge a fee for KS3 homeschooling worksheets.

  • Twinkl – Some free resources but you need a subscription for most, because it’s aimed at teachers there are no answers included.
  • Education Brothers – Some free worksheets plus paid resources
  • Teach It – Free resources for a range of KS3 subjects
  • Times Education Supplement Resources – Resources created by teachers for teachers, some free some paid.
  • Teachwire – A range of subjects resources for free, just set up a free account
  • 15 Worksheets – This website aims to provide 15 free worksheets on a range of topics

Online Learning Resource for KS3

There are a number of providers who offer access to learning resources via a monthly or annual subscription. The resources can include videos, games, printable worksheets, questions you answer on the screen, quizzes or practice exam papers. These allow children to work at their own pace but it can take a bit of trial and error to find ones they get on with so make the most of free trials.

  • Conquermaths – Just maths, short videos followed by questions, annual subscription
  • Ed Place – Maths,English and Science, more revision than a teaching resource, 5 free activities a month then pay for a subscription.
  • IXL – Maths and English, again, more revision than teaching, can do some for free and then need to pay
  • Numerise – Maths Only
  • Seneca – Maths, English and Science, a bit more teaching than IXL or Edplace, free and premium options available.
  • Khan Academy – A range of subjects but US based
  • BBC Bitesize – Free learning resources tailored to the National Curriculum
  • Corbett Maths – Maths videos and worksheets

Prerecorded Video Courses for Homeschooling at Key Stage 3

Video course can take many different formats. They are essentially prerecorded lessons for your child to watch and learn from. Some are recordings of live lessons that have taken place and others are just available as recordings. 

Some providers will just focus on one subject and some will offer a whole range of different ones. Payment structures vary from completely free, buying a one off lesson, buying a block of lessons to access via an ongoing subscription.

Live Online Courses

Live online classes are similar to prerecorded video courses but children attend the lesson live via Zoom or similar technology. Live Classes are great for those who like to interact but many classes have the option of cameras and microphones off for those children who don’t want to interact.

With live lessons you are committed to attend at a particular time but there are often recordings available if you miss a session.

While those are all great options, don’t feel you need to use any of them if they don’t suit your child. There are as many different ways of learning as there are children, and homeschooling is really about finding out what suits your child and leaning into that.

You might also find our frequently asked questions about home education useful.

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