So How Can I Homeschool My Children?Posted on March 27th 2020
I am sure that this isn’t a question you thought you would ever ask or have to answer. Perhaps the most important thing to remember right now is that being a parent comes first.
So, you’re not a teacher from your child’s school, you’re not in a classroom and we’re not in normal circumstances. We need to make sure that we’re all fine first, and that means us as adults, as well as the children we find in front of us each day – whether they’re our own or those of key workers.
With that in mind, here are a few of my thoughts:
Be their parent, don’t try to be their teacher.
Teachers are in loco parentis, but we don’t have the same role as a parent. We’re there to ensure your child is happy, healthy and safe. Our first priority after that, though, is to ensure that they’re well educated.
The first priority of a parent is to love their child.
That still absolutely has to be your prime concern. That will perhaps mean that learning is slower, less direct and you have more of the anxiety, temper tantrums and shows of emotion that come with your child feeling totally safe and protected in your company.
Please don’t expect your home to be a school classroom. Our children need love and reassurance now more than ever.
Be clear about expectations and timings.
Have a timetable for the day, even if you decide to vary it. How you start the day will be one of the most important factors determining daily motivation. Try and follow your typical weekday routine, which will involve getting up prior to 08:00 so that you can wash, dress and have a suitable breakfast to be ready for the day ahead.
Teaching only works when students know exactly what’s expected of them so please be realistic. Let them follow the timetable provided by the school, but get them to share what they are doing with you. Ask them about the tasks and how it relates to their learning, reassure them if they are finding it hard and remind them of the standard of work they achieve each week in class.
If it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. These are unprecedented and unusual times. Try again later or the next day. It might be that watching a film on the sofa or cooking a meal together are better ways to spend these early days.
On the other hand, maybe it’ll go to plan!
Have regular breaks
With your timetable, plan in breaks that suit you and your children. We have set up a system whereby students can contact their teachers in half hour slots following their normal timetable, however, the tasks can work around everyone that day. In between we might grab a drink, do some exercise or just clear our heads for a minute before we plough on with another lesson, even if it’s just a minute or two.
It might be that your children are up early and a morning of school suits you with a couple of snack breaks. It may be that two hours in the morning, with a break in between, and an hour or two in the afternoon, with a family walk in the middle, are what your children need.
You know them and their timings best – think about how school and breaks will fit into it, especially if you have children of different ages. Ensuring good rest and regular bedtimes is also crucial to being refreshed for a new day.
As an English teacher at heart we can’t deny that everyone loves a story.
I’ve been teaching now for over twenty years and reading novels always calms a class down. Every class I’ve ever taught has loved the term we’ve spent reading a novel together.
Find some stories your children will love and read them aloud together; alternatively listen to an audio book (audible is offering them free to enjoy!).
For older children, try and get them to read characters whilst you narrate so that they are learning to skim and scan at the same time.
You’ll get five minutes peace if you can persuade an older child to read to the younger ones too. Then all you need do is ask them some basic questions about what was happening and what they think might happen next!
Questions about novels in the classroom lie in these areas:
A) Predict: what do you think will happen next? Why?
B) Clarify: was there anything you didn’t understand?
C) Question: what questions did it make you ask?
D) Summarise: how could you best summarise what we read today?
Use online resources.
There are so many excellent online resources at the moment, I will keep emailing the students directly to keep them informed (you can even watch animals live at Chester zoo, visit the Smithsonian museum in America on a virtual tour!) Building your cultural capital will help you feel connected our wonderful world out there.
These are great ways to learn!
We are all trying to learn remotely, so screen time has certainly been re-purposed. Limiting social media and even the news is still good for mental well-being.
Don’t work all day.
When you know enough is enough, stop.
This is a time where we need to be kind to ourselves and each other before we prioritise anything else.
Stop when they need to.
Or stop when you need to, whichever comes first.
Be kind to yourself
If you’re emotional and it’s not happening for you today, don’t.
Whatever you and your family need to be happy and healthy in this situation is just as important as their education.
No one has exams this academic year so we can all afford the time to put our mental health first.
Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t compare yourself or your children to others. You know what you and your children need most – go with that!
Tomorrow is another day.
Whatever happens today, tomorrow is a fresh start.
No two days in my career have been alike. You can have the most rewarding experiences when children light that spark and impress you to feeling like 3pm can’t come quick enough.
Teaching can be a rollercoaster at the best of times!
Thank you for continuing to support our teachers at All Saints Academy by encouraging your children to keep focused on their learning journey at this challenging time.
Stay safe, stay in your homes and take care. God Bless.
Mrs Caroline Buchan
Associate Deputy Headteacher