Some hints for home education 

So, tomorrow Britain becomes a nation of home-educators. How are you feeling about it?

Here's some hints and tips from some of us who have been preparing for this for years!
?DISCLAIMER: We are not education experts. This is just some stuff we've picked up over the years home-educating.

The first thing it took me (Nick) ages to get my head round was this:

It is home-education not home-school

There can be a world of difference. I thought for a long time we had to reproduce school at home. We don't. But we do need to rise to the challenge of educating our own children.  How you do that will depend on what works for your children, you and your home. For some, a detailed structure and routine is essential. For others, it is a killer.  

The second thing that I am still learning is...

Enjoy your children

I am discovering that in the end kids want two things: to be loved by you and time with you. They just want to know that you enjoy having them around. So, lots of praise. Lots of encouragement, laughter, fun. If they feel loved and valued everything else is so much easier. Pressure, stress, anger, frustration, really don't help. I just asked one of our children. The look said it all. 

One of the joys of home education is that you can...

Treat them as individuals

Teaching a class of 30, your teaching has to hit as many as possible. You are now in the enviable position of having a class size of only 1, 2, 3, 4 (whenever I stop I will upset someone!). Learn how your children learn. If they are mad keen on super heroes, can you do superhero maths? Write your own superhero story?  Don't miss out the bits they don't like or they (or you) aren't good at. But do it in a way that connects with them.

And the final thing I (Nick) struggled to get for a long time is:

Progress is slow

It took me ages to get this. Just remember - most times your children come home from "normal" school and you ask them what they learn they say "nothing." Then a week later you discover they did learn one and a half things last week.  So don't panic. Enjoy it. Press on. And be surprised at what they've learned in a few months time.

Now for some practical ideas from Laura. This is a random splurge recognising that loads of us are diving in at the deep end tomorrow. So...


Some stuff we’ve found useful …

  • Getting exercise and fresh air first thing before starting lessons. Even just 5-10mins makes a difference. Our trampoline has been great for this but Just dance on YouTube has saved us on wet, cold mornings.

  • Do academic stuff (writing, grammar, maths etc) in the morning. Their brains just seem more switched on then. We don’t do any sit at the table lessons after lunch because….

  • You don’t need to replicate school at home. They can do in 1 hour of focussed work what it would take a day in school to cover. Don’t panic if it feels like they’re not ‘doing’ much. 

  • Routine is a great tool but a bad master. Kids like to know where they’re going but the beauty of home ed is you can also be flexible. If it’s one sunny day after four of rain, go play outside.

  • God says we should talk about his ways with our kids, “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut 6:7) Teaching at home is a great way to do this. You don’t need to give long sermons just drop little comments about Jesus and his world into your normal chat (Isn’t it amazing how God made that / God’s given you a real gift with writing / Is it hard, why don’t we ask Jesus for help etc…) 

Practical Ideas (in no particular order)

  • A tray with rice on. Practice forming letters / drive cars through it / walk plastic animals in it. If you’re brave replace the rice with shaving foam!

  • Old cardboard boxes. These are great – decorate them / make them into boats, castles, cars.

  • Build dens. Then eat snacks / lunch in there.

  • Read aloud. This is my top tip / favourite activity.You don’t need to be Stephen Fry, the shared experience of reading together is great. Then talk about what you heard / get them to tell it back in their own words.

    • Listen to audio books for free while the schools are off. https:// stories.audible.com

  • Use their toys

    • Weigh them / float them / measure them (estimate first)

  • Use challenges (especially with boys) – they can compete against their previous best

    • How many times can you….

    • How fast can you…. (they can even record it in a table / graph – Maths!)

  • Learn a poem / song then perform it to family / record it.

  • Chalk is great for drawing on paths / paving slabs – we’ll definitely get the rain to wash it off.

  • Maybe put away some toys for a few days then get them out on rotation to keep their interest.

  • Set up a shop, they can be the shopkeeper / make fake money / decide prices / give change.

  • Act out their favourite story / a fairytale. Or use puppets / soft toys. Film it.

  • If you have a needle and thread teach them a basic stitch then let them loose with bits of material / old clothes.

  • Cook. Ahhh, I hate cooking with children – too much mess and chaos. But they love it. NB. Don’t do this when you have PMT, it doesn’t end well! 

  • Get them to make an obstacle course using whatever you have around. Time themselves and you going round it.

  • Cut and stick. Old magazines and flyers are great. You can give a theme – animals / a certain colour / clothes or just let them do their own creations.

  • Mosaics – get them to cut up the bits, it takes extra time! Again, old magazines are good for this.

  • Get them to collect stuff into one box – a certain shape / colour

  • Sort objects – colour / weight / length
    ?
  • Pebble painting
  • Junk modelling - use your recycling with lots of tape/glue/string. Make a rocket and fly to Mars...
Nick and Laura, 22/03/2020