I am not a home-educator, let me make that clear. I was tempted but knew that going to school was the right thing for my daughter. That does not mean that it is right for everyone. However, I am a qualified teacher and taught for several years both in the UK and Italy. I left the profession when I became a mother but the training never leaves you. For some, the idea of home schooling is the right thing for both the child and the rest of the family, but the prospect can be daunting. I did on the job training and was told my second week to start teaching. I was like, okay…but what am I meant to teach and how?! There is no right or wrong answer, but I thought I would share my ideas on how to plan at home lessons.
Firstly, remember that at home lessons are for more intense and on and one to one basis. It is therefore my opinion that you do not need to do a 6 hour day like at school especially if you are working from home during lockdown. You are giving your child one to one tuition. Even if there are two or three, this is vastly different from an in school experience. For my daughter, at Reception age, 3.5 hours is more than adequate 5 days a week.
I try and structure our day in a similar way to how school would be. So at 9am, we begin with a song of her choice, like she would sing in assembly and sometimes we learn a new one too.
We then start with the subject she finds the most difficult, whilst the brain is awake and able to focus more. For her it is phonics; we do practice, vocally and written. We then do an activity sheet and finish the subject with a game in person or on the computer. This is a half hour to forty minute session.
By finishing with a game, she feels as if she has had a break and we move onto her second subject which also requires a fair amount of focus. For her, this is mathematics. I get out various objects; paperclips or dehydrated beans and we count them out. I also pick a focus number and we work out how many ways to get that number. Again we do a worksheet and finish with a game. This is a half hour to forty minute session.
We then take an actual break of approximately 20 minutes, with a snack and drink, where she can do what she likes.
We return and do the last of the curriculum subjects which for her is reading and writing – we do practice, we make up stories and read them. We do worksheets (I am currently using tes.com and twinkl.com) and again play interactive games. This again is a half hour to forty minute session though I will not stop any session if she is enjoying it. The time frames need to be relaxed.
By this point she is ready to go outside – we play a game in the garden if we can. Or we pop on our wellies and head out into the countryside around us. Sometimes we do a flower walk – she must spot all the different flowers and we take pictures of them.
After our walk we will usually stop for lunch. If it is earlier, we will do some art – from our flower walk, she drew and painted pictures of what she had seen. If time has passed, or she is hangry we will then do art work after lunch, finishing on a high note.
Yes, that is it. She does not need to work all day. She has worked hard and she has covered all she has needed to. She then has the afternoon free to do as she pleases which usually involves playing in her own imaginary world with her princesses or pretending she is a doctor. Free play and imagination are just as important as lessons.
You also DO NOT need to stick to strict subjects – the other day, we built a maze out of Jenga blocks. She was building her imagination and creativity skills as well as hand-eye co-ordination. These are equally important.
We do a little home economics on some days instead of arts – we will bake together or I will get her to help with dinner. We will also go to our allotment and dig about and do some work there. It is all learning.
The last piece of advice I have is try to plan lessons for the whole week – that way it is done and you don’t need to think about it for the rest of that week.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or them, which is very easy to do. Try and go with the flow and the rest will come. If you need help at all, do reach out. Just remember It doesn’t matter if your home schooling sucks.