Homeschooling is not something to be undertaken likely, for most of our families it has come as a bit of a crash and as a last resort. For many of us at home with our children, it will feel as though it is the first time we have had to help them learn.
When your child was in school, the teacher would have done the instructional bit and then your child will have been sent home with worksheets, packs of suggested reading, online connections to their school education platform. If you are lucky, your child will have listened in class and have a reasonable idea what to do next.
However, when you are homeschooling you are doing the instructional bit and you may be worried about just how good your skill set is to become the teacher.
Here are some tips
Negotiate with your child a set routine. The same getting up time, breakfast, lunch time, dinner/tea time, wind down time (no blue light the hour before bedtime) and bed time. This will be different for each and every family but what is important is that they are structured and provide a mental safety net – they know what is going to happen from Money to Friday and they know the weekend is different, just like going to school.
It is important for the learner to know when learning time is and when the weekends and holiday times are. For some of our learners wearing 'a learning time piece' of clothing like a set tee-shirt helps, but it could be a scarf, a hat, or working in a set area of your home like a school/work desk.
If they have not done enough one the a period of time we will ask you to back us up when we set work and lessons over the holidays. Again this is an important life skill this 'meeting of deadlines' thing. You, as the parent, have to pay your bills, rent or mortgage on time -otherwise there are negative consequences. Thinking homeschool is easy and you don't have to put the effort in - well there are negative consequences too. It rarely happens a second time!
Let them take control of their timetable – it’s a great life skill, time management – and let them guide you in how they will tackle work set by Orchard Training.
Let them know you are there to help (don’t panic if you don’t know how to, you can always ask).
But what about those ‘reluctant learners’. As a classroom teacher, I would hear this phrase to describe the individual in the class who was struggling with the fitting in to the very fixed and rotational structure of school life. School life is not for everyone. Some of us are individuals and we simply won’t fit in to the relentless march of the school institutional timetable.
However, here is something to remember if that phrase has been attached to you child previously - Children do love to learn, they are so good at it. They may not exhibit their learning abilities in a classroom environment where, for some, expectations of behaviour and co-operation are unachievable. But this is homeschooling and we can tailor the what to learn to the interest of the child taking away some of the lack of interest fact way. Secondly, we move at their pace so there is no need to rush over those pesky fractions if we simply don’t get them and there is no need to spend a whole week on percentages if you have quite clearly got them on the first day.
How do you as a parent help your child to learn?
To be fair, you do it all the time. You’ve been doing it since they were little ones:
· From responding to their cries
· Letting them know you understand them
· Pointing out colours in a rainbow
· Singing the alphabet song
· Letting them jump into puddles (and learn when too deep is too deep)
· Getting them to be quiet when you are on the phone
· Learning when to stop for a moment and respect someone else’s wishes
· How to greet people
Do you know how I know this because I never have to carry my own school / classroom bags, somebody always offers to do this for me, especially when I was crutches. When we are out walking along the River Thames somebody always offers to carry my back pack. When we talk about the ‘meaning of life things’ on those walks and during our lessons and the answers the children have given for the Mischievous Moral Mayhem shows as parents you are already teaching them the right stuff!
For all of you at home with your children now – don’t try to be their teacher. Don’t think you have to deliver the curriculum. Please don’t. Be a co-learner. Get ready to have some fun and help them learn in all the right ways. As home schoolers, we don’t have to follow the National Curriculum but we do learn the essentials of how to learn – which is far more important than what to learn.
It is our aim, over the time you are with us, to provide you with ideas, links and some ‘here’s one I made earlier’ moments. If I can link them to curriculum areas I will but this won’t be the focus. We want your home schooler to learn in the best way possible for them and for you.