As I write this it’s October half term. We’ve had no heating for 12 days now (although the boiler engineer has just arrived) and I’m shivering in my bedroom with a little electric heater on. Before the heating problem, we had a week of no broadband. It’s safe to say that October has not gone to plan. This week we were going to have a fun-filled Halloween-themed week; mostly involving plenty of crafting. Instead we’ve been huddled together in the living room trying to keep warm, our motivation to do anything pretty much at zero. It would be really easy to beat myself up about not doing loads this week, but instead I’m celebrating the total flexibility of home education!
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Embrace the Flexibility
So much of life is about appointments, deadlines, to do lists. You can make home education about that too of course, but if you step back a little and take a more relaxed approach you’ll find that the flexibility of home educating is one of its biggest positives.
If I had a timetable for us, if I planned “proper” lessons, if I were following a curriculum written by someone else, then I’d feel like a failure right now. A week of learning without broadband access isn’t easy and we’d definitely have “fallen behind”. Having no heating has also had more of an impact than I could have predicted. No one wants to use the art table, because it’s in the kitchen and it’s the coldest part of the house right now. No one wants to be in the playroom/dining room (where we spend most of our day) because we can’t get it warm enough, even with an electric heater. More “falling behind”.
Did you see my blog post about our Brave Writer 7 Day Blitz?
But the reality is that, as home educators, we answer to no one. So what if our Halloween activities haven’t all been done? So what if we missed a couple of online activities I thought we’d enjoy? If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, these things aren’t that vital. What has been vital is keeping my children warm and happy. Snuggling up together and reading books is absolutely a vital activity!
As home educators we have the total flexibility to choose what we learn and when we learn it. That’s incredibly powerful and something to be celebrated. We don’t have to do Maths for an hour a day ever day, or PE on Thursday afternoons. We don’t have to do Art on Tuesdays, or History on Fridays. We can choose, we have flexibility, we don’t learn from 9am until 3pm for five days a week.
Life has this great way of throwing curveballs, good or bad, all of the time. Illness, bereavement, redundancy, having a child, moving house… the list could go on. As home educating families we have the luxury of stepping back, pausing our plans, and then getting back down to things when we’re able to.
Perfection or Connection?
“Rather than perfection, let’s focus on connection” – Jean Miller, Art of Homeschooling
I heard Jean say this on her new podcast and it resonated so much. Over the past 12 days, I could chosen to ignore that my girls are cold and miserable. I could have chosen to continue with my learning plans for us: perfection. But what would that have achieved, really? Who learns best when they’re cold and miserable? Instead I’ve chosen to connect with my daughters, respect how they feel and adapt my plans.