How to homeschool
Homeschooling is doable and might even be fun. And it's something all parents are having to think about as schools close during the coronavirus outbreak. Hazel Davis explains how she has taught two children and worked from home for the past five years
Produced and edited by Tom Hannen
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Okay, so the government have closed the schools. You're effectively your children's teacher. This might seem a bit daunting, but I'm here to tell you that it's possible. I've been home educating my children for the last eight years and working from home. Here are my top tips.
Okay, so tip Number 1 is don't try and replicate the school system. You can't, and you don't need to. The way that your teachers will be teaching your children is very different from how you will teach your children. So cast that aside. Stop worrying about it. Teach in the way that you would teach and in a way that suits you and your child, and don't worry about what's been happening at school particularly.
So tip Number 2 is to do with timetabling. For many of us a timetable is absolutely essential. For many of us it isn't essential. If you do want to set a timetable so that you can work alongside your children, then make sure it's one that suits you. Work it around your working hours, their waking hours, when they're at their most productive. This is a great time to really get to know your children.
So if they are morning people front load the academic work in the morning, have the afternoon set aside for free play, try and work your working hours around them, and just make it a time that suits you. Don't look on social media at the timetable that your neighbour has posted that's all colour coded and terrifying and onerous. Just think of one that suits you and stick to that.
So tip Number 3 is about getting outside as much as you can, if you can. Obviously, not all of us are able to sit in the garden. But remember that playing in the garden, playing in the mud is education. Don't try and think that your children need to be sat at their desks all day, poring over maths books. Fresh air is good for you. Fresh air will make them learn better. It will make you happier. Sunshine will be better for them. There's plenty of educational opportunities outside if you're able to go. So get outside as much as is possible and safe for you.
Tip Number 4 is to really value the one-to-one time that this experience will give you. As a home ed-er, I don't tend to spend eight hours a day working one-to-one with my children, but what I do give them is really valuable short bursts of one-to-one attention. So if there's a maths problem that they're struggling with, I can really sit down with them, explain the concept, make sure they've understood it, then send them away to do it themselves.
And this is something that not all children get in the school system. And so this is something that you can really make the most of, and it doesn't need to take up a lot of your day. A good friend of mine referred to home ed-ing as being as though your child has a full-time PhD tutor. And that's the way to treat it, is to imagine that you can really help them guide their own learning, and this is really valuable.
So tip Number 5 is to take advantage of the massive wealth of online resources. There's absolutely loads of things out there. There are sites dedicated to home education. There's Twinkl, which is a really good teacher resource site. The TES has handouts and printouts available. There's Conquer Maths, which is a brilliant daily maths programme. Some of these you pay for. Some of these are free. Some have a mixture of free and paid content. There's absolutely loads out there, so you don't need to worry about worksheets and curriculum-based activities.
But there's also a lot of brilliant online resources that you might not have thought of. So English Heritage, I think, do lots of school-based downloads and videos and things. Most of the galleries are doing virtual tours, which is really worth looking at. So if you go on any of the major galleries, they're doing a walk-throughs, which is great for you and your children to explore together.
The music. Lots of the main orchestras are doing live concert performances. The internet is your friend in this situation. Your children - don't think of it as something that your children are going to be glued to all day. Think of it as something that you can use together so you can watch concerts online, you can work through tutorials together. It's something that can really help you all bond and know that everybody else is doing the same.
Just to summarise, lots of people home educate all day, every day. I've been doing this effectively for eight years, and I'm still smiling, and I still really love it. This is a really good opportunity for you to get to know your children, to know what motivates them, to know what excites them, to know how they learn, and to know what they need to learn. And you might learn something about yourself in the process.