First and foremost, let’s start by addressing the fact that the vast majority of us are totally winging this. Secondly, we aren’t actually home schooling although that term is getting banded around an awful lot.
Home schooling is a conscious decision taken with thought and preparation by parents who are willing and able to educate their children from home. Home schooling is not printing off every worksheet from the internet. It’s not googling the best reading apps and clambering together a timetable with 72hrs notice and no learning space.
So here are the top five mistakes I fear parents may make as we are thrown headfirst into our first few weeks without school.
1) Trying to recreate a school time table
We are in unprecedented times and no one is expecting us to do anything. If we keep our children happy and healthy during this time then I see that as a big win. However, you will find countless timetables all over the internet proclaiming to give your day structure and to fit in all the academic and not so academic areas of learning into your week.
Your children are not at school and expecting them to behave as though they were by dictating a detailed hour by hour plan is only going to stress you all out. Keep it simple with a few tasks for the day and time for their interest and passions.
Remember an hour of literacy or maths learning in school with 30 children could easily be accomplished in 10-15min with 1:1 time. Don’t expect children to sit for extended periods instead do short bursts.
2) Thinking worksheets will keep children entertained
Schools may very well have sent you learning packs and you will have undoubtedly been directed to a whole host of websites with similar age-appropriate sheets that can be printed but you don’t need to do any of them. In fact, I highly recommend using worksheets incredibly sparingly. Very few children find them engaging and the learning will be minimal.
It is likely you have been bombarded with so many sheets as schools, like you, are flying by the seat of their pants and want to be seen to be sending something. Worksheets can be great to give you ideas but my tip would be to see what learning it is trying to teach and then find a fun way to do this. Or chop up the sheet into sections so it seems less daunting to complete. It is incredibly unlikely any of these sheets will ever be seen by anyone.
3) Staying Indoors ALL the time
Staying isolated doesn’t mean staying indoors. Try as much as possible to get out everyday. Even if it is just into the garden or for a quick walk around the block. We all need a bit of fresh air and it is no good for any of our wellbeings to be cooped up inside day after day.
If the weather is terrible, turn to Youtube for child-friendly PE sessions or yoga workouts. If all else fails, blast the music and have a daily dance party to get everyone moving.
4) Worrying they will fall behind
They won’t. To quote High School Musical…”We’re all in this together”. (I hope you sang that in your head.) Even in school, children work at their own pace and in their own style. In fact, this may give you a great opportunity to help support them in an area you know they struggle or give them a boost if they are feeling unsure about a specific area.
Whenever schools resume, it will be a big adjustment for all children. Teachers will need to reassess and then they’ll kick back off again and be back on track before we realise it.
5) Expecting them to want to work
Unless you have a particularly studious and dedicated child, you are unlikely to have children racing for the work when they are home and have access to TV, tablets and toys. Although I don’t recommend a timetable, I do recommend structure. You’ll need it as much as them.
The key to structuring your day is the ability to keep it flexible and give as much ownership to the little ones as possible. I’ve gone into a lot more detail about how we are structuring our days in the video below with a simple block schedule.
One final tip:
If they are struggling with anything and really not in the mood, don’t push it. Ask them when they’d be happier to do it and revisit when everyone is in a better frame of mind. Without a doubt, this is going to be hard for all of us but it might also be a time we look back on and remember as those months we spent so much time together as a family.
If you’ve got any question on how we are doing things, just drop me a comment below, on my Instagram or in the comments section on Youtube.