Like a lot of the nation I am currently homeschooling whilst working. Seven days in and it’s going well but it’s tiring combining work with schooling three children.
Initial homeschooling experiences
Tasks and Timetable
Every morning so far we’ve started the ‘school day’ with Joe Wicks. It’s a great aid for setting a routine, but I must confess I’ve had achy glutes since day two!
School sent over a good variety of tasks (for a two week period) across the subjects. It also provided a suggested timetable, which balances up academic, creative, exercise, electronic and quiet time. I’ve found the girls definitely need structure for the day. We don’t follow it religiously or have a stopwatch on but it gives a good framework.
We pick a few activities per day and then put them up on our little whiteboard. Additionally, reading time happens every day.
Lay the foundations
My three don’t need constant supervision, but I have to spend a decent amount of time at the start of a new activity to go through it properly. Rushing this bit is a false economy and results in being interrupted with questions every five minutes! It’s best to spend 15 minutes giving a good explanation, examples and discuss ideas ahead of a new task.
My 8-year-olds can work independently for about 30-45 minutes and my 11-year-old often works well over an hour without needing my input.
I think I was a bit too authoritarian on the first two days, so have lightened up since then. However, they still get a lot done. We try to mix it up as much as possible. My eldest’s tasks are usually more in-depth so she often completes less things in a day but produces a lot of work. We tweak the timetable to accommodate this.
I’ve started adapting activities so to they incorporate things that they’re particularly interested in. They are far more enthusiastic if something is relatable. Similarly, I’ve got them to ‘plan the holiday.’ I asked them to come up with ideas for things we can do over an Easter holiday where we can’t have visitors and have to stay in the confines of house and garden. They’ve come up with a lot of suggestions!
Free time during the day
We include a number of breaks/free time where they play a game, use devices, read, play outside etc. Again, I was quite rigid on when free time was at the start, but now I let it happen naturally when someone has finished something or if concentration is on the wane.
Not getting bogged down
I’ve been sent lots of different homeschooling resources from all quarters, which is great. However, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. I’ve come to terms with the fact that we can’t do everything and I’m being more selective.
Marking and feedback
We’ve been looking at the work they produce together and I’ve been marking it. I don’t want them to think they’re doing stuff for nothing and it doesn’t have any value. Maria and Gabby – who are eight – have even been putting their own learning objective at the start of their work and then asking me if it’s an ‘LO met’ or ‘LO met plus’! I’ve not done this as I’m not qualified to judge but I have been giving feedback and making corrections. I’ve also been dispensing the all-important team points.
Hobbies and leisure
The girls all love netball and we have a great post in the garden so we’re really encouraging this (not that they need encouraging). We’re quite a games-y family anyway and love playing card and board games. We’ve just taught them poker and they are now obsessed.
We’ve upped our game show quota; House of Games is a new regular.
I’ve been taking more photos than usual (with my Fuji Instax Mini 90) and the girls are documenting their days in a journal and using my photos.
Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty and WhatsApp
You can’t underestimate the social aspect of school. To fill this void, the girls are having plenty of scheduled chats with their friends. I think it’s really important for their mental well-being as it’s such a morale boost. As well as chatting, they’ve also been playing games with each other on these apps.
Homeschooling is a balancing act and can be tough (though no one’s been bored yet!). It’s been great to actually have such input in what they’re learning and be able to specifically focus on anything they want further help with or practice on.
We’ve discovered that necessity is the mother of invention and we’ve all come up with new ways of learning and creating entertainment.
I won’t lie though, I will be happy when they’re back at school.