Children’s Education at Home – Getting the Balance Right

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When it comes to home educating children there are many approaches and it is definitely not a one-size fits all. Some children learn better with a strict routine, or worksheets, visually, or on computers; or you may want to go down an unschooling route – and just follow their interests. You may want to share the responsibility and hire a tutor – not only allowing perhaps a greater depth of knowledge of a subject but also allowing yourself a break.

formula for motion

What we are experiencing at the moment isn’t really what home education is like but this period of forced home schooling can still be beneficial to your children with the right approach. I have been home educating my boys for just over two years now, with one of them going back to school for just over a term prior to lockdown. The one thing I am finding with many parents who are thrown into home schooling is their frustrations about trying to get their child/ren’s education right whilst also having a lack of time to get on with work, get the cleaning done, or just generally have 5 minutes to themselves!

When I was considering home education there were some things I worried about and one of the biggest things was what if what I was doing wasn’t enough! What if I failed them and they “fell behind.” I hear these things quite a bit now from but I feel that a tailored education can be much more beneficial for children. Despite my worries our son got into a super-selective grammar school after being home educated and our youngest has made remarkable progress.

Home Education – find what works for your family

Our Approach

You need to find out what works for your family. First of all find out what works for your child/ren – does a strict schedule work well for you, a loose idea or go with the flow? I personally couldn’t go with the strict timetable because it felt like so much extra time planning, when I already felt that time was so precious. Also I fit things in to suit the mood of the children – if they seem responsive to learning things then they are going to obviously work much easier. I also like to see if the children are enjoying learning or not – I feel it is pretty pointless trying to force them to remember something they really do not like and will just forget and never even use.

Ideas for Flexible Home Learning

I like to remain flexible with home learning because as I said I can then gage when the optimal time is to learn. Usually learning ideas come from something I have been inspired by, an idea that comes into my head, something that is happening in the news or a special day – or even better something that interests the child/ren. Sometimes little ideas turn into big projects and others it is just a short one-off. If I am honest other times it is things we have been sent for review.

I balance this with home-educational groups and tutoring to add routine that children also like. This also allows me to have a break for whatever it is I need to do. I have to admit that I also believe the importance of maths and English so the boys have always had a tutor in these areas to keep them up to speed.

Fun Home Education Ideas to do Together

It is also good to have some fun ideas to do together- this will make the child/ren more eager to learn and make the day more relaxing for both of you.

This could be:

  • Playing a board game,
  • Card games,
  • Doing a project,
  • Baking,
  • Crafting
  • Reading a book together: This could be either a shared story or literally you read your book and they can read theirs. We have loads of books in our house and I do not mind if they want to read fact or fiction. We also have magazine subscriptions – reading is reading! If they aren’t into reading much why not try an audio book instead. Again we used to listen to them in the car whilst travelling – you could do this if you are travelling to places now restrictions have been lifted in England.

A Variety of Ways to Educate at Home and Give Yourself Time in Lockdown

Be Prepared

Even with a casual approach to home education you can be organised enough to give yourself some time. First of all figure out when your child/ren are most primed for learning and be prepared in some form or other. For me the youngest wakes really early and is attentive straight away and so I have things that the boys can do or know they can do independently throughout the day, therefore freeing me some time for waking up, doing work, cleaning the house, or just to have a breather! This could be colouring in sheets, word searches, BBC Bitesize, reading a book, playing with LEGO, drawing, coding, worksheets, or playing on the trampoline for example.

home education maths with lego

Utilise Screens

Screens aren’t the devil, they can be very educational. Watching a film can be educational in terms of its content or even just the ability to analyse and discuss what has been watched. Our tween asked for Netflix so that he could watch along with his friends – as there’s a chat option along the side so they could discuss what was happening. We felt this a great way for him to keep in touch with his peers – which is really important. Into Film is a great site with a great range of educational resources for films.

We also have kept the Home Education Art lessons going via Zoom. This means we not only get to relax and learn together but also it means that our youngest is also still seeing his peers. We pay for our sessions but maybe you could get some of your child/ren’s peers together and arrange an art session (I believe Zoom is free for the first 40 minutes or something).

I have already discussed how children can learn coding on the Nintendo Switch and not forgetting YouTube – which has a host of fantastic videos, just be careful of some of the content available.

Tutoring

As I said above our boys have always had tutoring during their home education to keep them up to speed. I hear of many parents who are struggling with not knowing how to explain things to their children and this is when a tutor can really help out. Someone qualified in that subject area who knows what they are doing and how to explain things the way they are taught in schools. This could be because methods have changed since the parents were at school, or things they have since forgotten. Extra help other than that what the school have been able to provide may be even more important for those in KS3 and above, particularly those doing their GCSEs or A-Levels.

My Tutor (#ad)

I was approached by My Tutor the UK’s leading online tuition provider, who specialise in KS3, GCSE and A-level tuition from their hand-picked tutors (only 1 in 7 make the cut). They offered me some complimentary one-to-one sessions in order to let you all know what we thought. They offer a huge range of subjects at different levels, and you can even have a free 15 minute consultation with the tutors to ensure the suitability. The booking system is simple and as sessions are done online they can be from home at a time that suits your needs. Whilst I appreciate that not everyone can afford extra help, it is there at a reasonable cost (from only £20) and you can pay for them one at a time, rather than having to find a huge amount all at once. If you use my referral link we both receive £10 off too – so you can have an hour for as little as £10!

It is certainly something I would consider long-term for my children throughout secondary school if they were not returning to school. For some tutoring can help keep them up to speed, bring them on further, or in our case just help challenge the child.

Maths Challenge explanation of question

Our year 7 is really bright and got into s a super-selective grammar school and he is currently doing the Maths Challenges past papers for homework. When he got stuck on a question none of us in the house could answer (we actually had to message his brother at university to help explain it to us, despite the fact our teen is taking A-level maths!). Out of all the subjects he chose to do extra maths for his tutoring sessions because it is something he really enjoys. I sat in his first tutoring session and it was great the way that our son and the tutor could both utilised the shared whiteboard. The tutor Jan seemed great at gaging our son’s level and clearly explaining things. To say our son had done an extra hour of maths that he didn’t have to do, he really enjoyed it. It was nice to see his face light up and get his brain thinking.

My Tutor also have 20+ hours of live group tutorials and explainer videos on YouTube in GCSE Maths, Science, English and History.

What has been working for you to help get the balance right whilst providing an education at home?