For most of us the thought of home schooling provokes a lot questions, and perhaps does not even seem an option yet I write this at the time of the outbreak of Covid 19 when it has become a necessity for many parents and children.
I’ve been homeschooling my 10 year old for a year. That was choice we took reluctantly - his particular disability and medical conditions meant that he was not making much progress at his primary school despite their best intentions and support. But it was a choice that has had many positive results - and many challenges.
How do you teach your child? What resources do you use? How do you deal with daily battles? How do you manage to do any of your work ? Aren’t you tired? These are just some of the questions I am regularly asked.
To help answer some of them and save you the angst of trawling the internet for answers, I have teamed up with a group of psychologist to produce resources and activity / education packs. Please just stick with us whilst we finalise them.
There is no doubt that being with your children day in day out is challenging - and certainly makes us value what our teachers do a lot more! BUT if you have decided to do it - or you have no choice at the moment, here are my tips as a mother and carer:
1. ‘Me time’ includes sleep time and make sure you get it.
Caring around the clock whilst running a sleep debt is disastrous for everyone!
Look after yourself.
2. Let your child sleep later…and make sure they go to bed early.
Avoid films and computer screens late at night if possible (audio books are a good alternative). Their good sleep habits will buy you time, boosts their immune system and they will be less grumpy.
3. Stop searching the internet for resources and do an activity with your child
For example, cooking, an art or craft activity or set them projects around the home for which they will get a reward! Cubs / scouts etc award badges are great for this and for helping you: https://www.scouts.org.uk/cubs/activity-badges/
4. Simplify with routine & repetition.
Kids like routine (If Spike knows what’s happening when, he is much more easy to work with). Repetition makes planning your day and the things you need to do possible.
Our ideal day looks like this:
Get up at least an hour before Spike - this will gives me a chance to plan my day, prepare and get anything important I need to do without distractions.
Eat and do some physical activity - maybe just go for a short walk
Get Spike up
Read for roughly 20 mins - if he is enjoying the book or is unwell, we keep going.
Start school day
Maths: times tables - however long it takes to work through all cards (see the picture of what we use below)
Maths: exercise - however long it takes to work through an exercise from a book.
Grammar - as above
Spellings - we have a running list of words. School will probably have provided this
Duolingo - about 10 mins of Spanish 5 times a week, this is done on the internet and it buys me time to get lunch ready
By 12:00 / 12:30 we are usually done.
We use one text book for maths and one text book for English. Both have the answers thank god! We generally avoid too much internet for much of Spike’s education, there are many distractions and I tend to lose control of what he is doing.
After lunch Spike does his own thing - ‘life skills’ I call it. It could be art projects, baking, reading, listening to audio books or just playing (not on the computer).
This time is important, he gets independence and I get a break to support our older daughter Poppy or do some of my own work and whatever needs doing around the house.
If he has done his work well, been independent and helped around the house, he gets to spend half an hour playing Minecraft.
If I’m in melt down, more screen time buys me time … and we need it!
The challenge is not to turn to computers too much to keep Spike busy and distracted. It is obviously very tempting to do that but I have found that it can have a negative affect on his mood and concentration.
Poppy is 14 years old and she too has been at home for the past year. We let her sleep and work to her own schedule. She is following the IGCSE curriculum in a structured course and works from books & the internet. She wants to be a vet and is self-motivated and works hard which makes it a lot easier for me.
I will be honest. You will probably irritate each other and you may feel impatient, angry, frustrated or inadequate at times. You may then feel guilty about that. That is normal - and to be expected. Home schooling is a challenge, it is unfamiliar to most of us and takes time to get used to.
We can only do our best and not worry about being perfect. I am not.
But home schooling can also be very rewarding, a great pleasure and provide time with our kids that we will one day treasure. It gives us a more active role in their education and development. It can be satisfying to see their progress. Spike has made much more progress with one on one attention than he did at school. It is also a way to educate ourselves, to improve our own mental game and brush up on a lot of things that we learned and forgot many years ago!
Times tables cards with answers on the back. Shuffle them up and do daily.
These are some of the books we have been given. Ask around - someone might have something you can borrow or head to the library if its still open...
Good luck with it and do email me if you have any questions. And if you are a retired teacher who can help with resources please support your local families as I have been supported. Wise advice and old books have been a game changer for me!