I’ve been homeschooling my daughter for 4 years now and we have been through lots of ups and downs in finding a homeschooling groove that fits us.
In this really odd time of people having to school from home I thought I could share how we have managed to transition from school to homeschool, whilst both myself and my husband work. I’m not going to write about the actual work we do as there are clearly a lot of posts and articles going around sharing some great resources. (In fact I wrote a post about the tips and resources we use in this post). This is about how you manage ‘normal life’ when you’ve now got the addition of educating your kids.
When we first started, I had the expectation that homeschooling was literally school at home. So a fixed schedule with a timetable, desk, workbooks, set break times and I even considered a uniform! It didn’t take me too long to realise this was simply ridiculous! I thought this had to be the way as it was all we’d ever known, but after a week of lots of tantrums and swearing (I did the latter) we knew that there had to be another way.
It turns out that once you account for how much time is taken up in school for kids to take off their coats, sit at their desks, take a register, line up, go to assembly, go have a wee, hand out the workbooks, etc. there is less time spent on ‘academic’ work than you’d think. Teachers have to think about ‘herd management’ when they have 30 kids in their class. You likely don’t have 30 kids so you don’t need 6 hours.
We have found that we can fit lots of learning into around 2 hours a day. (It really varies depending on the day). So don’t freak out about not having a 9-3 schedule. Don’t think that you have to be doing 6 hours of 1-1 tuition in order for your kids to learn. It doesn’t take that long. AT. ALL.
Let your kid’s lead
Now you realise it doesn’t take that long to homeschool you’re probably stressing about what on earth your kids will be doing during the rest of the time. Clearly no-one wants their kids on a screen for hours on end so what do you do?
For us we felt it was important to follow our daughter’s lead. If she showed an interest in Lego then we’d let her play Lego and we’d flesh that out with watching Lego cartoons, setting up Lego challenges, categorise her Lego into different boxes, make Lego drawings etc. Kids learn through play and if you can help them to cram even more learning than they’re already getting through play then it’s win-win.
This isn’t just the case for little kids. Our daughter is now 12 and loves Minecraft. She plays the game on her own and builds all sorts of wonderful things. She plays online with her friends and they learn to collaborate and negotiate. We use a coding app so that she can learn to build even more within the app. She reads the ‘Steve the Noob’ Minecraft novels. She has created a leaflet for newbies about how to play. She’s written a magazine article about why she thinks the game is so good. There is no end to the possibilities once you get creative. And when your kid is interested in something and has a passion for it then the learning is incredible!
A stressed out body is much more susceptible to being ill. Right now, that is the opposite of what you and your family need. Bearing this in mind, perhaps it’s okay to let your kids spend some time on their screens, watching programs they love, playing computer games they enjoy. Allowing kids to have time to do the things they love will help to keep them relaxed. Of course, there’s got to be a limit but it’s okay to build time throughout the day for them to do what they want to do.
In the same way you might need a glass of wine to unwind in these stressful times, your kids might need a couple of cookies or 45 minutes of telly or whatever it is that makes them feel good. It’s great for them to feel safe and happy. And their immune systems will be all the better for not being in a stressed out body.
Cut yourself a little slack
No doubt about it, this time is a real juggling act. If you have multiple children of varying ages and you both have to hold down jobs as well as all the usual house stuff that goes on then I absolutely get it – this time is hard. And it’s okay to acknowledge that and allow yourself to make mistakes.
We definitely have times where it feels like you don’t want to hear ‘mum, can you come here?’ again and again (always when you’re in the middle of something eh?). And if you end up snapping, shouting, just being grumpy – then so be it.
We are all a little tenser, a little more anxious at the moment. Forgive yourself. And then say sorry.
I have to say sorry numerous times throughout the week and that’s without the pandemic!
Value this time together
I know this is going to sound cheesy but this time with your kids is unlikely to be repeated and it could be really valuable. Normally school, work and a busy life get in the way of you having time together as a family and now is an opportunity to make the most of having them around.
Despite the fact that they wake you up mega early, are constantly bickering, never seem to stop being hungry and are just really annoying….they are your kids and I feel like we could all embrace this time together.
I speak as a mother to 3 children with only 1 of them alive and at home. If I could be in lockdown with all of my children now then I would swap ALL my freedom for that.
Good luck to all of you. Wishing you laughter and good times. (Sprinkled with some grumpy ones too).