Monday, 23 March 2020

School Shutdown 2020. Home educating tips and advice

This time thirteen years ago, I was heavily pregnant with my third child and thinking about home educating our two daughters. Reuben was born and our home education journey began. A journey that lasted nine years, with Rosanna arriving along the way. We had amazing days, crazy days, mundane days and days when I would shut myself in the kitchen and eat Nutella.

We’d been thinking about home education for about six months before starting. Time to plan, meet people and think ‘is this right for us?’ This time we’ve got no choice, we are doing it for a different reason to save lives; to stop the spread of this nasty virus. There won’t be trips to museums and art galleries. No big meet ups with the home ed community. No groups and activities. It really will be home education.

I’m not a home education expert, but have put together a few thoughts. Over the past few days, I’ve felt overwhelmed by the about of information available.

·         The first few days at home might be very difficult. We are all adjusting to a new routine. So, don’t panic or think ‘I can’t do this’. We will all need time to adjust. Don’t judge yourself on the first week. It takes time to find a rhythm and routine that suits your family.

·         Talk, read books, play games, get creative, bake. What things would your children like to do at home? I’m going to write a list. We can then add, amend and tick off the things we do.

·         There’s lots of ‘home ed’ websites available with free trials. There are timetables available. You can watch lessons at 9am, 10am… Do look through them. Use the resources that will help your family. I don’t think you’ll need them all. Last time, I had a couple of favourite educational sites that I used.

·         Don’t panic when you see or hear what other families are doing. Do what is right for your family.  And remember that people tend to share their highlights and not their lowlights so much.

·         Look at the work set by school, keep checking for new work. After all children will be returning to school eventually.  I want to keep dialogue open with school via twitter, see-saw, school blogs. I think this will ease the transition back to school.

·         Pace yourself, don’t burn out! After Monday you’ve got to get up and do it again…and again! You don’t need to sit with your children all the time. You don’t need to entertain them all the time. If they are old enough, let them take some responsibility for managing their own time at home. 

·         Err on the side of trusting them.  All children have a desire to learn and the new situation might spark that in new and creative ways.  Sometimes they will resist every suggestion you make.  So switch everything off and give them a chance to get bored sometimes, ignore them and let them find their own solution to it.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

·         Your house doesn’t have to be a classroom, but if that works for your family do it. I would say the world is your classroom, but that’s can’t be true so much just now. Your garden is certainly part of your learning environment though.

·         When the weather is good, get outside into your garden. If you want to do formal work, you can do it outside, you don’t have to work inside at a desk. You may get a week when it rains, so when it’s nice weather get out.

·         Be confident. You know your children better than anyone else. Learn together. You don’t need to know all the answers. Be investigators.  Facilitate their learning, point them in the right direction, the internet, books, even another adult. Enjoy the process.

·         Be brave, be bold. Plan an activity that you’ve always wanted to do.

·         Make time for yourself, take time in the day to go into a different room and take a break.

·         You’ll have bad days and you won’t be alone in that.  Phone/text a family member, have a moan and move on.

·         Record what you are doing (photos, video clips, writing), put it somewhere you can see it. It’s a great way to stay positive and to see how much you have achieved.

·         Don’t have a pj day. Get up and get dressed.

·         Celebrate the good days, move on from the bad ones .Record it all for history!  One day you love to look back on it. I certainly have over the past few days.

·         Dance in the rain! You’ve got to do that!


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