What very strange times we find ourselves in, friends.
My son and I are asthmatic and we all have coughs so we are currently hiding from the world – for how long, who knows, but it’s going to be a long spring! I know many of you are in the same boat; you may be working from home, you may suddenly find yourself in the position of a reluctant home educating family.
I am here to reassure you. You can absolutely do this. I know it’s not what you might have chosen but it is totally doable. You might even enjoy it!
I am going to be posting some ideas of ways you can keep your little – and big – ones occupied and happy – affordable, easy and no fuss – but I just wanted to take a moment to reassure you and provide a different perspective.
Tip 1: Don’t Be The Teacher
You are not, and nor should you try to suddenly become, your child’s teacher. The dynamic between pupil and teacher is complex and based on a different context. Your relationship is, rightly, different. When I tell people we home educate, they often say, “Oh, I could never do that – I would find it so hard to be my child’s teacher.” Absolutely; it will feel very uncomfortable for both of you if you suddenly try to adopt a different relationship and you will almost certainly hit some resistance. This doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with educational opportunities at home, just do it in a way which feels authentic to you. Be a loving parent, facilitating your child with opportunities for knowledge and development of skills, instead.
Tip 2: Trust Yourself
Remember when your child was a baby? You didn’t “teach” your baby to talk, or walk, or sing, or hit instruments. You didn’t sit down and look at the clock and decide that at 9am it was time to “teach” ball skills. Perhaps you observed your toddler and realized they wanted to throw and catch and you gave them the opportunities to do that, maybe you felt that it would be fun or good for them, and you got the ball and played with them. Through doing that, your child learned how to throw and catch. Home education can be just like this. What is your child interested in? Perhaps they have just read How to Train Your Dragon and are suddenly asking lots of questions about Vikings. Maybe they love to write or draw or play with Lego. Give them space to pursue their passions and support them. (I will be posting more ideas about this on my page over the coming weeks.) Remember that education is everywhere and it is almost impossible to not learn! Planning and making a meal, joining in with household chores, gardening… These are all educational. Even if you are restrained by requests the school has made, you can work through activities together and give your child choices within those boundaries to empower them.
Tip 3: Rhythm, Not Routine
Don’t try to set up a school. 1:1 education is highly efficient; you do not need to replicate the school timetable at home, unless the school has set a timetable which needs to be adhered to. You will whiz through work much faster than your child would at school. A suddenly jam-packed timetable – 40 minutes of English, followed by 40 of maths, may work for some families but will feel stifling for many. Working independently or 1:1 is intense.
However… rhythm is reassuring. We don’t have to worry about whether the dawn will come, or whether the shoots will spring up at the end of a cold winter. We know that the seasons change and night follows day. Find something that works for you and make it predictable. You could create a visual timetable to help. We do our more structured learning straight after breakfast as that works for both of us, then have a long period of free play before lunch. Afternoons are for housework, dog walks and playing outside, art and craft and science experiments, curling up on the sofa reading together and playing games.
Tip 4: Invest in Quality Time
I have discovered that my son is generally very happy to enjoy his own space, playing Lego, drawing, playing in the garden, inventing things, listening to audiobooks etc. as long as his cup has been filled first. This means lots of focused attention first thing, lots of quality time together and opportunities for both movement and cognitive stimulation, and at key points throughout the day. If I don’t invest sufficiently in this, he’s a little lost later and is, quite understandably, more demanding of my attention and it becomes much more difficult to do anything else. However, if we make sure those are in place, he is keen to be independent which in turns gives me the space to do the things that I need to do (work/laundry/focusing on his baby brother/yoga or whatever it might be). Many of you are juggling jobs at home and you may find that spending quality time with your children first “buys you” more extended periods of time where you can find some peace to work on your own. You can also work alongside each other. Today, we’ve played in the garden and done outdoor maths, read for ages, played addition games. Now, as I write this, my 5 year old is writing a riddle for his dad to solve. He likes to feel like we are all working and being purposeful together.
Tip 5: Breathe
Slow down. Do what you can. Enjoy spending time together. Adjust your expectations. Be loving to yourself and your families. Home educating families are also feeling the change; we are so used to being free and having the outdoors, our friends and groups and museums, libraries and parks at our fingertips that our lives might suddenly be feeling very small! We are taking one day at a time, getting outside every day and finding some fresh air and movement.
Feel free to message me for support if I can help in any way and keep following the page for more info.
You can do this!