Home education is legal in the Grand Duchy, though you need approval for children under 12.
During the pandemic, millions of parents worldwide have found themselves directing their children's learning at home. While some will be relieved with the reopening of schools, others have enjoyed the experience and would like more flexibility in how their kids learn.
Luxembourg protects the right of educational choice, with parents able to choose what curriculum their child learns from and even to homeschool if preferred. Homeschooling can offer greater academic flexibility and allows for self-directed learning at the child's own pace and reflecting their interests.
When I reached school age, my parents decided to keep me at home. They had already homeschooled my older siblings and found that the experience had provided a lot more freedom for the development of their creativity and academic interests. They also believed, as do many homeschoolers, that school was an overly restrictive, one-size-fits-all environment and not right for every child.
That's not to say homeschooling was a chaotic free-for-all. My parents bought in language and maths learning materials, and I followed these courses systematically in order to develop my basic skills. This was balanced with self-directed learning, where I was encouraged to learn and explore independently.
I found the experience stimulating and it definitely broadened my horizons. While children at school were stuck with a rigid curriculum, my young mind was developing its own interests and abilities. I also developed basic reading and writing skills quicker than most children in full-time education.
This highlights just some of the reasons why you may choose to homeschool: to respect the child's choices and motivations; avoid putting them in a restrictive school environment; and practice educational values that better reflect the family's philosophy. Other advantages include more family time, the ability to differentiate instruction for particular learning difficulties, and the flexibility to travel and expand educational horizons during term time.
What are the drawbacks?
After a few years of homeschooling, my parents decided to send me to mainstream primary school. This was partly due to practical reasons: their professional circumstances had changed and they no longer had the time to dedicate to homeschooling. It was also partly due to the limited social contact I encountered as a home-educated child.
That's not to say homeschooling will leave your kids completely isolated. There's a small but vibrant homeschooling community in the Grand Duchy, and they arrange events such as workshops, social gatherings and information evenings. Nevertheless, social interaction is different from the environment at school, which in some cases could be perceived as a drawback.
Homeschooling can require years of dedicated effort on behalf of parents, especially as children start to get older and the demands for school qualifications rise. While local schools may be able to help kids take specific qualifications such as IGCSEs or the International Baccalaureate, it can be harder to access the support and materials needed to study and take exams.
How do you apply?
For children aged 4 to 12, you must obtain authorisation from your regional education director before taking your child out of school. Contact details for each directorate can be found here.
Having identified the right director, you should write a letter to them explaining your motivation for homeschooling. Homeschooling organisation ALLI recommends that the letter is framed positively, outlines your rationale for homeschooling, your learning plan, what support you intend to provide which is not available in school, and what additional opportunities will be available for your child's learning. They have a sample letter (French) available here, and offer to check your text to ensure it is legally compliant.
Assuming your request is approved, you must then notify your commune of your intention to homeschool. After this, you can commence home education.
For 12 to 16-year-olds, there are no legal regulations covering homeschooling. As a result, you don't need prior approval and can write to your commune straightaway to provide notice.
If you're considering this route, it's worth getting in touch with Yannick Bartocci at the Secondary Education Service first (contact details here). He can signpost useful resources and help to ensure appropriate support is in place. ALLI can also provide advice.
At secondary school level in particular, it's worth looking into online programmes to support learning. Time4Learning and K12 offer American curriculum home-learning packages. Wolsey Hall Oxford is a long-established provider of iGCSEs and A Level homeschooling courses. A number of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme courses are also available online. Khan Academy offer a wide range of free courses online.
Homeschooling is subject to inspection to ensure children are receiving a suitable education. Requirements include that your child shows some progress in learning an official language (Luxembourgish, French or German), especially if you are planning on staying in Luxembourg long time.
You should also be able to demonstrate to the inspector that your child is making progress in terms of their intellectual, moral, and physical development. You do not need to prove that your child is in line with the equivalent school curriculum standards for their age group, but rather that they are gaining skills and developing as an individual more generally.
Inspections are only required by law at primary level.
- ALLI - Luxembourg Association for the Freedom of Instruction - for advice, support and resources. They also have a community on Facebook.
- LuDUS is a Luxembourg community of homeschoolers and alternative education enthusiasts, with a learning centre launching in September 2021. Also on Facebook.
- Alternova Centre in Garnich is a meeting point and free learning space for out-of-school children aged 3 to 12. Facebook here.
- Home-Education in Luxembourg Facebook group is an online community hub with discussions, events, and resources.