How to survive homeschooling? PART 3

INVEST (MONEY OR TIME AND EFFORT) 

If you can, invest some money to help you with homeschooling and I’m not talking about a fortune but literally a few pounds a month. Unfortunately, different clubs, activities and classes are closed at the moment but instead you can use this money to do things online or get some things delivered to your home! 

I decided to subscribe to the Twinkl website because I can download a lot of great materials there from PP presentations, posters and cards to worksheets. I also receive books on a monthly basis and I can use their educational materials on apps on my mobile, laptop or PC, so that’s a bit more variety than using just workbooks. What I liked on Twinkl is it also gives you many ideas on how you can use a messy play activity tray and I have one of those so the ideas can be used for my toddler. 

I also subscribed to Brilliant Brainz as they seem to describe important topics such as the body and mind, animals, the senses, and a lot more, in a very interesting way. The magazine is super colourful and attractive for children. And they cost only £3.99 a month! I read a bit about The Weekly Junior magazine and it looks great too as it covers different topics on politics, society and other serious and important issues, but is explained in rather plain language. However, this is something for slightly older children than mine but this may be useful for you. 

Another great thing seems to be subscription boxes. I never used them before but decided to try something that could help to make homeschooling more fun. There is a huge variety of topics and price ranges. Lots to choose from. I decided I will try an art & crafts box as we love these kinds of activities. There must be hundreds of art & crafts subscription boxes at the moment! In our first one there is a gift so we will get two boxes for the price of one. I could pick the topics and I decided to choose learning and doing activities about planets and also woodland animal puppets with a stage that my child can build to perform her plays. 

The other box I fell in love with is called Geo Journey and I really look forward to the delivery of this one! In the first box my child will get some nice luggage, a travel journal, a map, a passport and I think a few other smaller bits. Then once a month Geo the owl and her friend the puppy will send my daughter personalised letters. The animals travel the world and each month send a pack about one of the countries they visited. There is then a letter, photos, stickers, a souvenir and some cards with facts about the country. I saw some children getting packs about Egypt, France and Australia, and this really looked like fun and can teach little learners a great deal. Surely a better idea than reading about countries and trying to remember all the theories and facts. 

Of course, I understand that not everyone can invest in these things but then there are always a lot of free books (check out, for example, Oxford Owl website!) and online resources (education.com has many free resources) that you can use to make the homeschooling experience more interesting.

You don’t need to pay for Geo Journey if you don’t want to but you can borrow the idea and create a similar project! So you could decide that once a month or even once a week you make a themed day. Let’s say it’s Italian day! You could make some pasta for lunch and tell your child what Italian food is like. Find some interesting facts about this and surprise your child by telling them e.g. that Italians don’t eat their pizza with ketchup or mayo, or any other kind of sauce! You could play some Italian music and a video or two about Italy for kids on YouTube. You could also show what the Italian flag looks like and even ask your child to watch a basic Italian tutorial online and learn 3 or 5 basic words or phrases such as ‘Hi’ and ‘How are you’? Then you could give them a print out or read them facts about the famous people who come from Italy and what they are famous for. You can cover other topics such as what currency they use, how many people live in the country and perhaps a few facts from their history. You can actually make a pack with these facts and give it to your child in an envelope, just like in the Geo Journey style. Maybe you can also ask your child to do a quiz about Italy once the activities finish.

I’d like to finish this post with a beautiful quote I found in Forbes:

“(…) some parents may discover that learning outside of schooling benefited their children and strengthened their family. (…) They may realize that education without schooling is not a crisis but an opportunity” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2020/03/11/the-worlds-homeschooling-moment/#584aac7b550c)

How to survive homeschooling – PART 2

https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/

Many parents may be worried about their teaching skills, especially when most of us forgot almost everything that we learnt in school. However, nowadays there are plenty of fantastic, creative and interactive resources that can help you to prepare some simple and effective lessons for your child. You may be surprise how beneficial homeschooling can be. Hopefully, these statistics will make you feel better:

  • “Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income”
  • Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.”
  • “Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.”
  • “Research facts on homeschooling show that the home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development.”
  • “Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.” https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/
Photo from Pexels

HOURS AND BREAKS

Homeschooling doesn’t mean that your child needs to spend 4 or 6 hours a day studying at their desk. Most days 1 to 2 hours would be just perfect. I’ve read interviews with mothers who homeschooled for years and I even managed to speak to some of them; and they say that the best parts of learning take place not during ‘school hours’ at a desk but actually while visiting places such as a forest, staying in the garden, using a trampoline, reading a book, or discussing things during a car trip. 

Some of the mothers said that the freedom they have regarding scheduling learning time is precious and that homeschooling does not mean, as many people think, making sure that your child is at the desk between 9a.m. and 3pm. doing reading, maths and science. One mum said that she does 2-3 hours of school time a day four times a week and that her child learns a great deal because a lot of this time the child gets 1:1 attention in the form of teaching, feedback and discussions. 

The standard school hours don’t apply for homeschooling at all and can make things frustrating! And actually homeschooling can be a great opportunity for bonding and building a better relationship with your child. 

It’s a simple piece of advice but we may forget about regular breaks for our child if we are busy with our own work or with other children. If your child seems tired or not in the mood, maybe it’s better to take a longer break or to give them a day off so they can recharge their batteries or have a bit more fun. Be flexible and allow your child to study in places they like sometimes, like the sofa, kitchen or garden, rather than only at their desk. It can be very difficult for a child to sit for longer periods of time like that, with no friends around, and not have enough outdoor time and activities. 


LET YOUR CHILD DECIDE!

Let your child feel important and ask them sometimes what they would prefer to learn on a particular day; or if you print materials out from the Internet ask them which ones they would like to do. It’s good to involve your child in these decisions as much as possible. They will surely learn more and enjoy the experience. 

I also found it interesting being led by my child in terms of choosing some topics for learning. So she was not making plans but out of the blue she asked me or her dad why dinosaurs died, what slavery means, what the brain looks like or what’s inside the Earth, and I tried to use this interest in the topic she came up with to provoke some discussions and I showed her short videos to explain things even better. We have some great books about the Earth, nature and animals and sometimes I’d randomly pick one and tell her: Wow, did you know that… xyz? And most of the time she would jump up next to me excitedly and ask questions, and ask if I can tell her more about tornados, the penguins that visit Brazil every year, or the first toys that were found by archaeologists. 

How to survive homeschooling Part 1

When someone first envisions homeschooling, the first thought is often a family replicating the school environment at home. Lessons start promptly at 8:30am, with children working studiously around the kitchen table until a break for lunch at noon. After the lunch break, lessons continue until 2:30pm. Then the homeschool day is over. But, for a large and growing number of families, homeschooling looks absolutely nothing like this. For example, homeschooling families who identify as unschoolers make no distinction between living and learning. Children learn from the day they are born. You can’t stop them. Other homeschooling families believe in incorporating some structured academic activities into their days and weeks. Even so, these families tend to have a lot of free time to play, explore, and go on adventures compared to families with children in traditional schools.” ( You can homeschool in less than two hours per day)

Some parents seem to be quite frustrated with the homeschooling that they were suddenly asked to do during the lockdown. They don’t feel prepared, and sometimes not qualified, to do this and are not sure how to motivate their children to learn at home where they normally only had play time rather than school time. 

I must admit it was difficult for me in the beginning as well and I tried different approaches and made various schedules and I was wondering how many hours a day or a week we should do the homeschooling. I also wondered how to make it a bit easier, and more fun and interesting for the child. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Now, after weeks of trying out different methods and materials, I feel a lot more confident with this and most of the time we are actually enjoying our homeschooling experience. Therefore, I thought it may be good to share my thoughts on this topic. I hope that it can help some other parents because, if I had more instructions and advice at the beginning, I think the transition and the process of learning at home would be a lot smoother and easier for us. 

The best thing about homeschooling is that there is just so much FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY and a huge room for CREATIVITY. There is no one perfect way to do this because different things will work for different people. And that’s beautiful about it!

According to a recent BBC article, approx. 50% of parents decided not to send their children back to school even though they were eligible to come back to their classes on 1st June (in England). This is of course a hot topic nowadays and usually whatever your side and opinion is on this there are always some that will criticise you. You are sending your child to school? Wait, that’s not responsible! The fight against covid-19 is not finished yet and we don’t have the situation under control! You are leaving your child at home? What? Wait, this is crazy! Fewer people die of covid-19 now than some weeks ago and we must go back to a normal life. How long do you think you can be hiding like that?

It doesn’t matter on which side you are – you won’t win. So why not try to respect the decisions of others? I know some of you decided to keep the children at home but you are still struggling with the homeschooling so I thought you may get some ideas for improvements after reading this post. 

FUN AND VARIETY

Try to make it fun. Yes, as you read more of the post, you will see that it can be fun. I give my daughter some arts & crafts activities, nearly daily, and I also call them homework so she can associate this word with something that she likes – painting, play dough, drawing, making origami, etc. not only sitting and doing maths tasks. 

I think it’s important to change the formats of the learning materials to make sure the child doesn’t get too bored with the learning. So, worksheets are great but there are also a lot more methods many of which are interactive. There are documentary videos, themed songs, PowerPoint presentations (ready to use on websites such as Twinkl, or you can do some on your own once in a while; copying and pasting some images and information from different websites is quick and easy). 

Recently, my daughter had a task sent to us by her school about the animal kingdom and we decided to do some more learning on this topic. I played two videos for kids on YouTube so she could better remember the differences between reptiles and amphibians. I also asked her to cut out animals from magazines and some old cards that she had, and then to group them into animal group categories. We made a poster about different animal groups too and put it on a wall for some time so she could remember things better. 

Remember about PE too. It doesn’t have to be a 30-min workout with famous instructor Joe if your child doesn’t feel like doing it. Maybe you can make a deal that it’s okay to do five minutes skipping with a rope instead. This is a very intense exercise and can be done quickly. Trampoline, bike, scooter, Zumba or Yoga for kids on YouTube – there is so much choice for your child. My husband gives our child some taekwondo lessons sometimes. Maybe your child could join you for an online fitness class.  You could ask your child to do the exercises every other day and each time it could be a different type of exercise. It will surely make it more fun. 

How to survive homeschooling? PART 4

BALANCE

While preparing tasks and lessons think how you can create some balance so you can spend some time teaching your child and explaining things to them, or checking their work and giving them feedback. However, it is also a good idea to ensure that your child can learn to some extent on their own – by reading, doing exercises, watching documentaries, creating projects or researching. They learn how to become more independent and you can have some time for your work, chores or for quiet ‘me time’. 

I think a more relaxed and flexible approach is working best for my family as long as we try to show our children that learning can be something that can be enjoyed, something that gives us satisfaction when we see our progress. That’s what personal development is about, isn’t it? It would be great to use a bit of this homeschool time to make your child enthusiastic about personal growth.

I did quite a bit of research about homeschooled children and… What surprised me a lot is that according to many different research studies, homeschooled children are doing better at tests such as GCSEs or A levels. They also seem to be more mature, think more independently, cause less trouble and have more knowledge than their colleagues who attended school. What’s more, homeschooled children tend to watch a lot less TV than children who go to school. 

Unfortunately, homeschooling parents tend to face a lot of criticism as the phenomenon is not very well understood yet. There are a few thousands families homeschooling in the UK (*and over 2 million in the USA) at the moment but many parents say there is little support from outside. One of the main criticisms is about socialising. However, studies show that many homeschooled children go to universities and do not have trouble socialising with others. Actually, they are more likely to vote, volunteer and do different projects for various organisations! The most important thing to remember is that homeschooling doesn’t mean sitting within four walls and getting weird.

There are many styles of homeschooling such as worldschooling, roadschooling, wildschooling, and the classical, eclectic or Montessori approach. I think if this is completely new to you, it is definitely worth doing a bit of research and reading more about it in depth. Some ideas are brilliant and can contribute a lot to your child’s well-being and help them to achieve their potentials. Homeschooled children actually learn a lot of practical things. They also have more time to go out on trips, and to do different classes such as dancing or martial arts where they meet lots of people and make friends.

One recent survey showed that 23% of British parents have noticed the benefits of homeschooling, which include being in control of what the child is learning and creating better family bonds, and consequentially they are considering homeschooling after the lockdown has finished.

Homeschooling can be challenging sometimes but it can also be turned into a great journey when you spend some really good quality time with your child learning things from each other. Children can also teach us a lot – 

– to care more

– to be more spontaneous,

– to be more passionate

– to worry less

– to forget about the phone, work and laptop sometimes and enjoy life more

– to laugh and smile more often

– to be kind

– to not be scared to ask questions and keep being curious about life!

And what’s also a great benefit of homeschooling is that we as parents tend to research different topics for our children and learn things with them.

I hope I persuaded you that homeschooling can be valuable and fun. Remember, you and your child are not at school so you can apply your own rules and schedules, and it is all up to you. You can control it and change things as you like. If you think it’s difficult and boring then it will be this way. If you believe it can be a fantastic opportunity and experience – then this is how it’s going to be!

Would you recommend any resources that have been helping you with homeschooling?

I’m aware that there have been some problems with leaving comments under blog posts recently. I will check if I can sort this out from my end but if you would like to speak to me or share any resources that are helpful for homeschooling please email me:  hello@mindset4progress.com