Doing school at home

Apr 21, 2020

Just been dropped into doing school at home?  We thought now was a helpful time for a short Q&A with someone in our church who’s been home-schooling for a while.

How is homeschooling is different from sending kids in to school.  Thinking that to do school at home looks different practically – what does it look like for you guys?

The current situation with the covid-19 virus has forced many parents to home school who were certainly not prepared for it. Even for those of us who have been home educating for a while, things look vastly different with all our usual home educating groups and meetups cancelled. However, home educating can be a joy and a privilege,  why not use this time to create memories and build up your children as we home educate [and spend much more time with them] them for this season?

Home school is not just doing school at home. Trying to recreate school within the home will cause stress and anxiety for both parent and child, and miss the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of being able to study at home. This is particularly true for parents who are juggling work and home school. Think quality rather than quantity. Think experience and depth rather than checklists and hours done.

We can encourage a love of learning by using the child’s natural curiosity about the world to learn!

I mentioned the benefits of studying at home. What are those benefits? As we home educate we can focus on quality rather than quantity- with more time and fewer distractions, we can take the time to ensure our child has learnt a concept before moving on to the next one. We can encourage a love of learning by using the child’s natural curiosity about the world to learn!

Is your child interested in outer space? Then you can base your maths, reading and writing all around the topic. Make a whole project out of it and open your child’s eyes to see the wonder of space and how we can apply so many subjects to outer space.  Are you baking together? Why not include some maths- measuring, adding, fractions……what about including some science- How does heat flow? How is flour made?…..what about some reading, spelling, writing……you get the picture. Use the day to day events as a learning opportunity and see that as valid learning!
Home education enables us as parents to identify our child’s learning style and use that to optimise learning. In our home, we have a verbal learner who loves the use of words both written and spoken- we do lots of reading and listening to stories and writing about what we have learnt. My other child is a kinaesthetic/physical learner- reading lots of stories and concepts to her just doesn’t work as she bounces from one sofa to another! So with her, we play lots of learning games through action. We jump our numbers rather than just look at them, we sing about our colours rather than sit and colour on paper, we draw our shapes in the air rather than sit and look at books about shapes. Home education enables you to look at your child as an individual and figure out how best they learn. Taking the time to do this will also make your home education experience much easier.

Home education looks very different from one family to another. Each family will eventually find a rhythm to life with home educating, for us this took a while! Be patient with yourself and recognise some days will go really well and others just won’t, despite your best efforts.
Having a routine helps in our family, particularly as my children are young. We usually start the day with formal home education as I have discovered once the girls get into a game, it’s hard to get their focus and attention back to learning! We go straight from eating breakfast to a time of Bible reading. I then have core subjects that we do every day following a curriculum.

Be patient with yourself and recognise some days will go really well and others just won’t, despite your best efforts.

 

We try to follow an order with these, however, as mentioned above, we often will go off on a tangent, exploring a concept we have read whilst doing reading practice. Or perhaps doing more maths one day or writing depending on my child. We will often break out into other topics that lead into each other. History may lead into geography as we learn about a certain time and country, or science may lead into crafts as we try and recreate a volcano. We can be flexible! We tend to have some ‘formal’ learning time in the morning and again in the afternoon. These can be fairly short to a couple of hours depending on how the children or me are doing! The afternoon is generally projects, crafts, and lots of reading. Read, read, read….we do a lot of read-aloud. The girls will play lego, lie ( or jump) on the sofa, colour, or sit in the garden while I read to them. I have been amazed at how much they have learnt just by listening to a book.

Homeschool tips…

Use resources available
Use resources available- there is so much that we can access online as part of our children’s learning. You can supplement learning with official learning channels on youtube, BBC Bitesize, many galleries and zoos have learning tools on their sites.

 

Community
Community – we usually home educate as part of a community, the children learn together and each week give a presentation to the other children in their group. During this time of quarantine, we have been meeting as groups on zoom for the children to give their presentations. It has been wonderful for the children to see their friends and share their learning. Why not contact another family or school friend and ‘meet up’? children can discuss learning together or just say hi

 

Make a plan
Make a plan, but enjoy the flexibility of home school- take time to do family activities together.
Take a long term view
Take a long term view of homeschooling, we don’t know how long schools will be closed for but you don’t want to burn yourself or your children out straight away!
Younger Child too?
Do you have a younger child/toddler who needs entertaining while you home school the older ones? Why not make/print some home school ‘worksheets’ for them and create a pencil case or school bag so they can join in? Or create a basket or box in which you put a variety of toys, learning games, paper, crayons, books etc and only give this box to the toddler during home school time? You can change items in the box to keep them guessing.
Read, read, read!!!
Read, read, read!!! Oh….and read. There are free audiobooks and books which can be downloaded from the internet. Chose books with a depth of story, beautiful pictures, ideas and concepts which you can discuss as you go along.

What opportunities does home-schooling provide in pointing our kids to Jesus? 

Home education provides a wonderful opportunity to show our children how all learning should and can point us to God.  Education should prepare us to reason clearly, speak eloquently, calculate accurately and write convincingly.  Why? So that we can know God and his world better and make Him known.

Why? So that we can know God and his world better and make Him known.

 

Deuteronomy 6:7 urges us as parents to teach God’s ways diligently when we wake up and when we lie down. It implies a consistent and constant pointing of our children to God and his word. Home education ( and quarantine!) gives us this opportunity to literally integrate this into our everyday lives. If we as parents can see all educational subjects as having the potential to point our children to Jesus we will find opportunities to encourage our children to study as unto Christ. We can point our children to God as Creator. 
Home education also gives us opportunities to model a life that is lived in faith in Christ. As our children live and study in the home and alongside us, they have opportunities to see how we respond to situations in our homes and lives. They can see us as we go to God in prayer and his word. As the main adults in their day and lives, we now can bear witness to what God has done in our lives.