Yesterday in the UK it was announced that all schools are to close from Friday. Indefinitely. Exams have been cancelled, parents are stressed beyond belief and Boris still looks like he’s never met a hairbrush.
Even though our girls are home educated, this is a period of uncertainty for us too. The classes that we go to have all been cancelled and we can’t meet up with our home ed friends either.
But what if you’ve suddenly found yourself thrown into the world of home education? You’re probably feeling a mixture of things right now. Worry is probably at the top of that list. It’s not just worry for your children either; it’s the worry about being able to continue working, about paying the bills and about your own mental wellbeing.
When you choose to home educate, you’ve done so willingly. No matter the circumstances surrounding your choice, it’s been your choice. Right now, for every UK parent out there that choice has been taken away.
I Can’t Teach My Children!
To every single parent out there worrying about all this, stop. Breathe. Go and make yourself a cup of tea. You absolutely can teach your children; you’ve been doing it since day one. Talking, crawling, walking, everything, that’s all you.
You’ve facilitated their learning their whole life so far and, although these circumstances aren’t ideal, you’ll continue to. You don’t need a teaching qualification or a stack of workbooks. You don’t need maths and science resources, or an art cupboard full of supplies.
Throw Out The Timetable
Feeling a bit calmer? Good. Another thing you don’t need is a timetable. Please don’t feel like you’ve got to plan subjects like a teacher. Schools need timetables. There’s no other way of successfully moving 30 children per class through school life without one.
Have a think about your child’s school day for a moment. Take off the time that isn’t used for lessons: registration, play time, snack time, getting changed for PE, getting changed back, assembly, dinner time, behaviour management, etc. Then factor in things like rehearsals, performances, down time around Christmas, down time towards the summer; there’s a lot of time in the school year that isn’t used for lessons!
Having a routine is different. It adds a bit of structure to your week but is more flexible. You might decide that you’ll do a particular subject on a specific day of the week. I prefer this approach myself, but it doesn’t mean that we stick to it!
The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone right now is to go with the flow. Sorry if you wanted something a bit more concrete. What I mean is try not to plan ahead to too much; this situation seems to be changing daily anyway.
The approach that we have been leaning towards, with varying success, is unschooling. We don’t plan lessons for our daughters. I’ve tried (at their request) and I’ll blog about that another time, but eventually we all fell back into unschooling quite comfortably. They might not have formal lessons, but they are learning all of the time.
Children are like sponges, and they really do absorb information from everywhere. It’s also wonderful for them to have the freedom to explore the world around them. I’ll write another post about a typical kind of day for us and the kinds of activities the girls are into right now.
My second piece of advice is don’t buy all the things. Seriously, you don’t need a lot of resources at home. The chances are your child’s school is going to send them home with some learning to complete anyway, and most schools subscribe to various online resources which will still be up and running. It’s really easy to get caught up in a panic and buy curriculum online and a lot of equipment.
If you are someone who would prefer more structure that’s great but give yourself and your children a bit of breathing space before buying anything. Think about what you want to achieve and how they like to learn.
No matter what happens in the next few weeks and months, try to enjoy having that extra time with your children as much as you can.
Trust me, you’ve got this.
I’ve set up a Facebook group for anyone who wants to ask questions, share advice, chat about activities and just talk to other parents. Please join us!