Is A Study At Home Course Really For You?

Author: Ian McAllister

Study Home Course

“Z” I exclaimed triumphantly. A home study course was the last thing on my mind as I gobbled down the Z shaped biscuit (cookie) with which my mother rewarded me.

Perhaps I could have been excused for not even knowing the meaning of “studying at home” because I was just three, and had learned two alphabets for biscuit rewards – English and Spanish. I certainly had no interest in…


I didn’t know that the cookie was the instant reward for my unofficial exam. I hadn’t heard of exams.

These are likely to be your main target, whether you are at high school, or college, or doing a study home course. You can learn how to shine in exams with my simple home study course in a book called “Exam Mastery”.

Am I biased?

Probably. My only experience was of a study home course up until I was 14 years old. That gave me many advantages over normal students. I could read fluently in two languages when I was four. So I went round to help the doctor’s wife to learn English.

I didn’t know that that was the reason! I only knew that I could play with a monkey between periods of reading things in English and telling the doctor’s wife what they meant in Spanish.

Could conventional schooling have beaten my study home course there? Oops! Conventional schooling doesn’t even start until after five or six years old! That’s too old to learn a language like a native.

Attitude Creation

The main benefit I got from my study home course was in my attitudes. I only spent about 3 hours a day studying, plus 1 hour of practicing the harmonium (a predecessor of the organ).

My parents had enrolled us in the studying home course run by the Parents’ National Education Union in the Lake District in England. Each time the packages of books arrived in my home in Paraguay we pounced on them and read them all before we started studying them. Well, that’s not quite right. We didn’t read the French, Latin, and German textbooks until we had to.

Have you spotted one difference in our studying home course? Yes, of course, we didn’t hate studying, because we could go at our own speed and only had 3 hours to study each day, leaving plenty of time for reading, horse riding, beekeeping, looking after our pets, reading, gardening, looking after poultry, gardening, reading, playing the harmonium, crocheting, tatting, reading, wood carving, making wooden toys, gathering wild fruit, fishing, getting up to mischief with friends… oh, and reading.


Although I played with friends, we had no common ground in schooling, so it was never discussed, so I didn’t discover that exams were to be feared until I started normal schooling at the age of fourteen. Exams were just a chance to show off!

We played chess, chased grasshoppers, played hide-and-seek, counting in German, swam, and frightened away the bullies by offering them a caterpillar, which they dreaded for some superstitious reason.

But the big advantage of our study home course was that we socialized with adults and picked up their attitudes. We learned how to tell stories by listening to our parents. We learned how to debate by listening to Dad debating with the Priests. We learned different accents by having visitors from the USA, Canada, England, Australia, France, Belgium, Hungary and Poland. We learned that when someone doesn’t understand, the solution is not to repeat it in a shout, but to say it simply in another way.

Our foreign friends taught me how to do darkroom work for photography, keep stamps, row a boat, and what to do if I lost one oar overboard.

Learning from life

Have you spotted that I was learning more from life than from a study home course? Well, not really, my whole life was a study home course. Whether I was lighting a smoky fire to prevent locusts landing on our property, or collecting horse manure for the garden, or learning self-control by getting stung on the knuckles while carrying a beehive (dropping the hive means that 40 thousand bees get very angry) I was learning things that would serve me well in later life.

Subjects not offered elsewhere

When I changed to a conventional school at the age of 14, I stopped studying botany and anatomy and physiology and German. We had a vague subject called “science” which was meant to replace all the scientific subjects. I didn’t learn any more about anatomy until I went to the University. Fortunately in my first job I had to scrub for operations on sheep, pigs, rats, cows, and red deer, so I learned from life again.

No help for exams

Do I hear you complain “none of this helps in exams”? On the contrary… if you read my book “Exam Mastery” you will find that I show you how to realize that you have a much broader knowledge than you get at school, and use it in the exams. I encourage you to see exams as a chance to show off. I show you how to study without a teacher looking over your shoulders, but you already know some of that if you have been learning from a study home course.

One big requirement

Unfortunately, you need good parents to learn everything at home. If you have bad parents, the more time you spend away from home the better. Most parents won’t go to the trouble of learning Latin one step ahead of their children as my Father did.