When Jack stopped going into school in November, I had already been anticipating the change and so for a while I had been researching home education. I have a few friends who have tried home education at one time or another, and so I had picked their brains, asked how they do it, and had a look online at some different websites.
But when he actually stopped going to school, I was not prepared. I hadn’t done enough reading. I didn’t have a clue where to start. School stipulated I should still dress him for school as normal every morning, and attempt to do his normal school work with him in the home, before coaxing him into school. We lasted three days before I decided this was not working for me or Jack, and instead of reducing his anxiety, our regime INCREASED his anxiety. I cried for days because I felt like a failure. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about education at home – and here I am sharing it with you.
You don’t need to emulate school at home. You don’t need a desk or a whiteboard or worksheets. It’s OK to have all of these things, and I do, but we rarely use them. Home education can be done on a laptop, an iPad, from a book, with practical activities, or by exploring out in the world. Shoving a child at a desk and making them study just isn’t necessary.
You don’t need to teach your child for six hours a day. When you work one-to-one, its amazing how much more you can get done, and so you may find that just working through the morning accomplishes a full day’s work. In fact, some sources recommend that children ages 5-9 only need to study for up to two hours a day, children up to thirteen only need to study for three hours a day, and children taking GCSEs may only need four hours of study per day. Without the distractions of peers and their conversations, work can be blitzed and out the way before lunch if you’re disciplined with it!
You can make every day tasks educational. For example, cooking. You can design recipes (creativity/food technology/nutrition), budget (maths and problem solving), cook from a recipe (reading, maths – weights and measures, food tech) and clean up afterwards (life skills). You can go for a nature walk and learn about the plants and animals that can be found during different seasons. Cleaning the home can be a lesson in chemistry. Tending the garden can serve as a biology lesson. It’s not all books and writing.
You’re allowed to have bad days. Normally schooling is inflexible and if you’re having a crappy day, you’ll be stuck to endure it because of attendance records. If your homeschool humpday is just too much, ditch it and do the work another day. You don’t have to observe the same days off, holidays and workdays as everyone else. Home education fits YOUR schedule.
If you want to, you CAN follow a scheduled timetable and specific resources/topics. That’s the beauty of it – you’re not tied to any one method. You can dip in and out of absolutely everything. You can play board games, or make videos for YouTube; read a book, complete a worksheet or copy sums from the whiteboard. This is your home education programme and you can flex and bend it to fit the needs, likes and ambitions of your child.
Remember guys – this has been sprung unexpectedly on us all and you are not expected to immediately adjust and nail it. It really helps to keep a routine but bear in mind that your children are stressed too – everything they know, or at least knew, has changed. They can’t see their friends or family members outside the household, they can’t go to the park, they can’t even go to McDonald’s for a treat. It’s OK to go easy on them for a little while as you all get your head around this upside down mess of a world.
Help us keep the lights on during the pandemic at http://www.paypal.me/WardOTStreet