One week down, who knows how many more to go? We asked one seasoned homeschooling parent to give us her guide to teaching and parenting at the same time.
Words: Kate Blackwell
So homeschooling has begun. This is the third time I’ve homeschooled the girls (they were seven, nine and 11 first time around, then nine, 11 and 13 last time). I’ve learnt a few things that I thought I’d pass on. They might be useful to you or maybe not, but I’m all for learning from each other right now.
1) I am not a teacher, I am a mum who is doing her best. One of the reasons why I respect teachers and schools is because I have tried to teach our girls and found it very hard. I am not good at it!
2) You will see lots of posts of people doing an amazing job. Don’t compare yourselves to them, but instead pick up good tips. Everyone will be finding this very challenging.
3) Don’t worry that your children will fall behind during this time. No one is expecting you to produce a genius, and their whole cohort is going through the same thing. If you google how much time you need to spend homeschooling compared to the school day you’ll realise that actually a couple of hours a day of homework is plenty.
4) Affection, nutrition and exercise are just as important as schoolwork. You can exercise in a very small space and it will really help their mood. Learning how to make a healthy dinner might be messy, but it’s short term pain long term gain. I’m as proud of the fact that Sukie made dinner last night as any school test she’s ever done (yes it was pretty messy to clear up, but that’s not important).
5) Let go of some things. The house is going going to be messier. Give them the opportunity to be in charge of their own space – they can mess up their room, but before bedtime, it needs tidying away.
6) Don’t beat yourself up for putting the tv on to have some breathing space.
7) Our first attempt at homeschooling started with lots of big ideas and plenty of school books. It boiled down to nailing times tables and spelling bees in impromptu places (they became fun). Plus, we rolled with it – hearing a James Brown song on the radio then became a few hours learning about him, his music, his story. Making a meal can become a history or geography lesson. Kids love learning, let them lead it sometimes and it can go off on wonderful tangents.
8 ) Our girls missed their friends while we were away. They love school, probably because they love learning with their friends. I am relaxing my rules on phone use as I know it’s going to be very hard for them to adjust to not chatting to them all day. But I’m giving it some structure so a catch up with their friends is something they can look forward to rather than reacting to their phones during the day.
9) This is a chance to pause, and to give them the opportunity to work out what interests them the most. I know a couple of people who became successful after an accident – they were forced to sit still and think about what they really wanted to do. Looking back I don’t know how many of us really had that pause.
10) Ultimately this is a time of a big unknown. Our children will be looking to us for reassurance and love most of all. The last thing we need is to put pressure on ourselves that we are not doing a good enough job in homeschooling. We are spinning enough plates right now, and no one will be marking our teaching skills.
If anyone else has any tips, please do share them. Hopefully, we will come out of this with a respect for schools, and as happy and well-adjusted children as we possibly can. One day, this will be a time we will tell our grandchildren about.