Schools have closed and children run wild. Xbox controllers scatter the living room floor. Dirty dishes strew the counter. School workbooks lay dormant in backpacks dumped last Friday by the backdoor.
I’m here to say the workbooks can stay there for another few weeks. Home-education isn’t about classroom learning in your kitchen, it’s about stepping away from school and embracing something different.
Sound intimidating? With a new mindset and a few tips from a seasoned home-educator, it doesn’t have to be.
I asked my Mum what advice she could give to people who are home-educating for the first time. As a parent who home-educated both myself and my older brother for 16 years, she had a few thoughts on the topic!
Leave the kids in charge
It’s not as scary as it sounds. If you’re planning a timetable for the week ahead, it’s a good idea to ask your child what topics they would like to learn about and add this to the schedule. It could be an event in history, a scientific phenomenon, or even something practical like cooking or learning a new dance routine.
In fact, why not give them the role of the teacher? They could conduct some research and share their findings to the family a few days later. Make the most of their curiosity and give them space to develop new interests.
Embrace your child’s mind
By this we mean: don’t be afraid to hop across topics. If you’re in the middle of English homework and the conversation veers to where the author lived in Italy, to why Venice came to be built on water, to how boats stay afloat… You get the idea.
The beauty of home-education is the lack of time-restraints so use this opportunity to follow the interests of the kids. More on this below!
Flexibility is key
As we mentioned, home-education does not mean school-at-home. We’re not suggesting you should throw structure to the wind, as it can help to maintain focus and clarity, but there’s no such thing as a 45 minute lesson.
If you expected a task to take an hour and your child has finished after 35 minutes, then there’s no need to spend the remaining time on that same topic. Instead they could read, get cracking on a new hobby or help cook dinner.
Lastly, know that there is no one way to home-educate. Bearing in mind that every child is unique, families can experiment with different ‘teaching’ methods and find the best version that works for their family situation.
Here’s a reminder that in times like this, the algebra homework isn’t the most pertinent exercise. Instead, get involved in art as a family - you’ll laugh at your mistakes and at the goofy stick-man drawing.
We’ve linked below three free websites that are great for educational fun whilst at home.