Home educating was a very positive experience for our family as it is for the many thousand others who also educate their children without school.
However, as with all aspects of life, there are challenges and below are some of them and tips to overcome them.
Worry and concern
Every parent worries. So worry is not just a product of home schooling it’s to do with education in general and our child’s achievement, something we all want. But we can’t hurry it, there are no certainties and the future can’t be predicted anyway, so it helps to keep our focus in the present. Worry is usually based in the future and a way to stop this becoming disproportionate is to focus on the child’s needs right now, focus on the present practicalities and activities, and focus on being real. Worries are more often than not the result of imagination – not reality!
Children would not be normal if they didn’t resist sometimes. Successful home schooling depends on maintaining a good relationship with the children. This doesn’t mean giving in, although it might mean compromise. When confronted by their resistance I asked myself a few simple questions; why might they be resisting, is it vital to do this now/my way, what would make this more interesting, would it be better to wait with this? Stepping back, reviewing and discussing often resulted in us finding more effective and amicable ways forward together. Children are able to take control of their education to a greater degree than we suppose – many adult home schoolers are now proof that it is a successful approach. And shared control (if that’s the word) minimises conflict.
Sometimes resistance is just lack of motivation. Mostly we avoided motivation problems by keeping activities varied, getting out a lot, keeping the children’s needs now at the forefront of what we did, changing approaches when motivation waned sometimes, meeting others, and allowing the children involvement with decision making and understanding of why we do certain things.
Parents often make the mistake of trying to time a home educating day similarly to a school one. This doesn’t work very well because, if you think about a school day, there are a multitude of distractions and a lot of wasted time. Learning one-to-one takes much less time than learning the same thing in a classroom, so home school kids have a lot more time to pursue personal activities. These are valuable in developing life skills, independence, personal thinking and character. Home educating does not mean filling every minute with prescribed learning activities – school isn’t like that either!
You are unwell or tired
We all have off days, teachers included. There may be days you’re unwell or can’t rustle up the enthusiasm. The odd day doesn’t matter. Acknowledge this happens sometimes, encourage the children to occupy themselves, and recharge. Have low key things you can do when necessary, for example; watching a film you can discuss is as valuable to language development as writing exercises. To maintain home educating longer term it’s important to understand that no one is superhuman. As well as looking after yourself, which is important, encouraging the children to be self directed at times is also vital. It makes them resourceful, independent of you and confident.