How to Home school. Or not.

“We are making 10 years worth of progress in 10 days”. That’s what people are saying about the education system. It’s also what I’m saying about the wrinkles on my face.

This week saw our whole routine thrown to the wind. As a teacher, I had to go off to work to spend a week throwing fourteen years of teaching resources at my computer. I mean, that’s how we make it digital, right?

But school has been cancelled for my 6 year old. She is staying home this week with her teacher Mr Stay At Home Dad. I don’t know which one I feel most sorry for. Probably our Beagle. He has to watch it all.

The Beagle himself.

The first thing I did was sit down with my daughter. We discussed what she does each day at school and wrote it all down. She had a moment being upset, when she realised she can’t do the things she loves, like library day and show and tell. It’s a devastating blow to Miss 6 to think that the world will not see the picture she coloured in this week. But seriously, talk to your kids about their feelings, because what is small to us is huge to them.  We discussed how we can keep her routine and the things she loves, except they may look a little different. For example, ‘library time’ will be going to her bookshelf, finding a book and sitting on her reading chair with a drink, to have some quiet reading time.

I then made a folder for each of the subjects she listed. I have always found that students are more willing to do work, when they have a sense of ownership. So I let her decorate the folders with her favourite stickers.

I already had a couple of “grade 1” books that I bought over the Christmas holidays. Yep, my poor kid has a teacher mum and buys textbooks and stationery on the holidays. I can’t help it, it’s an addiction. So, I went through each one and tore out the pages that she hadn’t done. That way, instead of having one book that contained worksheets for a variety of different subjects, she has them organised into folders. So now if it says ‘spelling’, she gets her English folder out and does an activity.

Now. Can I give the same professional advice that I gave Mr Stay at Home Dad to any parents out there who will be embarking on this journey? Firstly, it has been a wild term. Let them have the holidays. Give them a brain break and enjoy some quality time together.

Then, if you have to home school next term, make like a nine month old trying to chew on their own feet, and be flexible. Just know that I say IF- because we as teachers know as much as you do about whether the children will need to be home-schooled next term. And that is JACK. SQUAT.

You will have work set for your child, it will definitely not be up to you to find ALL of the learning. The teachers are working very hard to ensure that (see above). But in the classroom teachers can scour the room for the blank eyes staring back at you. There are often 5 or 6 levels of learning within each activity. While we are superheroes, it is almost impossible to do the same in virtual classroom as it is in the real deal brick and mortar. So the lessons won’t be as scaffolded. If your child is struggling, or doesn’t understand, don’t get angry at them and most of all, don’t get angry at yourself. This will end up with both you and them giving up on their education. Don’t be afraid to choose an easier activity. It is much better that they are staying confident and happy with an activity slightly below their level, than having your neighbours think that Spielberg is making a new film of screeching velociraptors in your lounge room, because you are trying to get your 9 year old to comprehend the Wall Street Journal.

I’m not saying don’t push them to learn, by all means keep pushing. Just not off the side of the mountain.

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