HEN Blog

We post blog articles on a number of topics, from advice for new home educators to updates from HEN. You can read our blog articles here.



John Holt  (1923-1985) wrote many books which are all considered classics in the home education world. As a fifth grade teacher, John was part of the progressive education movement in the 60s and initially wrote about the failings of school. Eventually, he gave up on reforming the school system and, instead, advocated home education. To his surprise, people started contacting him to say they were already doing just what he suggested. As a result, he began a home education magazine called Growing Without Schooling. All of his books are well worth a read.

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. He is the author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013), and he writes a popular blog for Psychology Today magazine entitled Freedom to Learn.

John Taylor Gatto has written some excellent books, and has also published some audio tapes and videos. John has seen that between schooling and television, our children have precious little time to learn for themselves about the community they live in, or the lives they might lead. Instead, they are schooled to merely obey orders and become smoothly functioning cogs in the industrial machine.

Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn. This is an excellent read for teens thinking of leaving school and recommended reading for any parent of teenagers.  

The Why and How of Australian Home Education by Dr John Barratt-Peacock, 1997. This a PhD thesis which was hailed as the most authoritative text on home education in Australia. The author approached his research with twenty-seven years’ experience in home education. He views education as essentially a process of acquisition of culture. He conducted initial interviews with 186 families across Australia, thirteen families were interviewed a second time and six families (deliberately chosen to represent a wide range of home educating practice) were interviewed a third time and observed for a full day each. Both formal and informal learning was noted, with a recognition not only of the immediate activity a child was engaged in, but what was going on around the child – a conversation overheard from the next room for example – or the child’s awareness of the activity of other members of the family. He summed up the Australian home educating family as “a community of learning practice.” Home educating families in this study had more children than the average Australian family and it was predominantly mothers who had the primary responsibility of educating children. The PDF is for sale in our shop and available free in the members’ area.

Mary Griffiths

In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong. Children learn in multiple ways, and educator Thomas Armstrong shows how to locate those unique areas in each of our children where learning and creativity seem to flow with special vigor. Armstrong delineates how to discover your child’s particular areas of strength. The book shatters the conventional wisdom that brands our students as ‘underachievers,’ ‘unmotivated,’ or as suffering from ‘learning disabilities,’ ‘attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,’ or other ‘learning diseases.’ Armstrong explains how these flawed labels often overlook students who are in possession of a distinctive combination of multiple intelligences, and demonstrates how to help them acquire knowledge and skills according to their sometimes extraordinary aptitudes. Filled with resources for the home and classroom, In Their Own Way offers inspiration for every learning situation.

Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World by Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons. This book explains why some people fit into school, and some do not. This book advocates effective method for helping children with Attention Deficit Disorder excel in a classroom setting and many of them can easily be applied at home where you and your child are more in control of the environment.

The Fundamentals of Home Schooling by Anne Lahrson-Fisher. An extensive exploration of how children learn naturally in families through play, conversation, family togetherness, and the process of growing up. This book is a refreshing look at the how-to and why-to of home education, including academic, social, learning style, and family life issues, plus a bonus of many practical resources and tips.

Educating Your Child at Home by Dr Alan Thomas and Jane Lowe, 1998. Alan’s  interest in individualised learning led him to examine home education in Australia and the U.K. He points out that although ‘catering for individual needs’ is touted as the ultimate pedagogy, it is actually impossible to achieve in a classroom. “In fact, in spite of nearly a century of interest in individualised teaching, practically nothing is actually known about it in practice, certainly not with regard to children of school age, simply because it cannot be studied to any significant extent in school. The only way to find out more is to turn to children who are educated at home.” This book is an inspiring home-ed resource, especially for those looking for reassurance on natural learning.

How Children Learn at Home by Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison. From the moment you read the preface you’ll know that Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison understand the world of home education in general and natural learning in particular. Here they discuss the what and how of informal learning by school-age children, the world that surrounds these children and how they engage with it. Three types of learning are identified – incidental and implicit learning which both occur with little awareness from the child and self-directed learning in which children more deliberately find out about something that has captured their interest. Overall the book is both reassuring and empowering for natural learning families. It confirms through research what our own experience continues to tell us and yet we sometimes fear to believe – that natural learning is an effective way to learn.

Homeschooling the Teen Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13- to 18- Year-Old  by Cafi Cohen. This contains a lot of useful information whether you are actively home educating teenagers or just considering your options. Using real-life stories from dozens of families, this book reveals the secrets of making homeschooling work for you and your teen. Cafi Cohen also has useful books for home educated young people moving onto university (although some of the information is specific to American college applications.)

Finding Home by Erik Peacock. Erik, son of home ed pioneer John Peacock, talks about his home education, growing up as an English migrant in Tasmania, making sense of the world and finding a place in it. He details his journeys of activism, faith and relationships. His interesting blend of Christianity and environmentalism means half of the book should appeal to the bulk of the home ed community – just not the same half to the whole community! Perhaps Erik sums it up well himself when he says, “Life had moved me over the years from the evangelical right to the wishy washy left. I never meant to end up there, but having been broken I now knew when to bend. While I could understand and respect most points of view I realised that I would never fit snugly in any camp. Life is too complicated and people’s stories too interesting to get overly hung up on categories and my identity is not tied up with belonging in one.”

Tales out of School  by Dr John Barratt Peacock and Susan Wight. A book for existing home educators and those enquiring into home education as an option for their families. It contains 40 home education stories from the coalface of home education. The world of home education is a hugely diverse one. Within these pages, as in home education itself, you will meet families whose stories will immediately resonate with you and you will also meet families who you will regard as more than a little odd. Whether you have a casual interest in home education, are starting out or a seasoned veteran, this book has something for you. Available in the HEN shop, free to members.