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This post was originally published on November 1st 2018 and updated on March 23rd 2020.

Today’s post is the third in the series of our home educators journey, following the lives of Anna and Lucy on their NEC learner story. Anna and Lucy are a mother and daughter who are sharing their experiences of online distance learning and home education. This post is written by Anna, highlighting her experiences, so far, learning at home with NEC. Click the links to read the previous blogs in the series “Selecting our course provider” and “Getting started

When we first started our home education journey GCSEs were a very distant thought as my sons were only 6 and 9. However, a few weeks in and my 14 year old daughter, Lucy, decided that she also wanted to be home educated and suddenly GCSEs were at the forefront of my mind. Although I have a teaching background, it is with primary age, so this made me feel way out of my depth.

There was a wide variety of subjects to choose from including ones that were not available when Lucy was at school and a variety of ways that you can study for GCSEs. I soon learned that other home educators were more than happy to answer questions and share their experiences. With this support and lots of reading we came up with a plan that we thought would work best for us. We chose three subjects to complete over a year using a distance learning provider.

“At first I wondered if I knew enough to be able to support Lucy, it turns out there is a lot of support in the home education community from people who are going through the same process”

We were fortunate that Lucy was very motivated and was able to manage her workload herself. We gave some input to help her plan the work over the year and think about when she would need to start revision. Once she had that she happily worked through the courses herself. She would ask for advice if there was an area that she didn’t understand and occasionally we would contact the tutor for extra advice but generally she worked well independently. We found we were able to plan work around her other activities- so she managed to act in a professional theatre production and dance in a professional pantomime during this period. We just altered her workload around the rehearsal schedule.

“We found that being able to focus on just three subjects over one year was positive as she could really get to grips with those subjects. Lucy didn’t feel overwhelmed with juggling lots of subject areas and although the exam period was intense it was relatively short” 

As this was Lucy’s first experience of formal exams she did feel the pressure towards the end of the process. She was keen to perform to the best of her ability and to achieve results she was proud of. However, this seemed nothing to the pressure her school friends were under and they were still a whole year away from their exams. Her drama teacher commented on how relaxed she was compared to the others in her group who were frequently upset about the pressure they felt under from school.

We did feel very apprehensive on results day. We believed she was well prepared but there was a nagging doubt that we might have got it all wrong! Fortunately when the email pinged into my inbox the news was even better than we had hoped for – I had clearly been a harsh marker on the practice papers because she got a grade higher than we had expected in all three subjects.

“Now we are able to look back over the year we can say it was a relatively straight forward process. You definitely don’t need to be an expert in the subject to be able to support your child’s learning through a GCSE course”

Parts were more difficult such as the decisions about how to study and also trying to find an examination centre. We are finding the second year more straight forward and have made some changes, such as using a distance learning provider that has a linked examination centre. I think overall the whole process was far less scary than we thought it would be. Even if you don’t know the answers to questions you can look them up together and discussion is great for supporting understanding.

Further information for home educators can be found here.

Free learning resources

As part of our commitment to those affected by the impact of the coronavirus, and in an effort to help support parents, teachers and students during this difficult time, we are making the learning materials available from our Resources Webstore free to download to the public using the discount code NECFREERESOURCES.

Further information on how to access the resources is provided in the following PDF document: https://www.nec.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Free-NEC-Resources.pdf

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