10 Things I learnt from homeschooling first-time round. This is not the post I was planning on writing tonight but I am attempting to find some positivity in the rather stressful situation we find ourselves in. Again. Both the husband and I have reasonably demanding jobs which require a large percentage of our day to be spent on zoom or similar. So managing an eight-year-old and a four-year-old who has only literally started school is going to be a challenge. One that last time almost broke us.

Especially as we were also managing the fact that we had the virus too.  For these reasons, it is hard not to feel anxious about what is coming. Especially as we know it will be for at least six weeks. So I thought I would share 10 Things I learnt from homeschooling first-time around which may help.

10 Things I learnt from homeschooling first-time round

Control the controllables

This was one of my old bosses favourite sayings and it is so true. Focus on the things you can change. Not the things you can’t. Our schools will not be ready to send work home tomorrow. Rather than stressing about it. I am going to pull out some of the old textbooks we have and the boys can use some sheets from those. Failing that we can do some craft or similar.

The only pressure comes from you

We tend to be our own worse enemies. The pressure for children to effectively ‘homeschool’ comes from the parents. Our school was relaxed last time round but it was me that was trying to get through all the work with Charlie each week that pushed us over the edge. Once you realise this suddenly the pressure is gone and its a lot easier to manage.

Routine

Our days worked best when we stuck to a routine. Now don’t get me wrong noting the above point, sometimes routine doesn’t work. Either because of work commitments or because of some other reason. But our days did work better for all of us if we could stick to some sort of routine, not at least it meant the adults knew when they would be able to pick up necessary work emails etc.

Divide time equally

Well as equally as possible. To avoid resentment amongst the older members of the family and the ‘whose job is more important’ conversation. (That’s easy I would win that hands down every time). Divide the day into chunks where each adult can spend time meeting their work commitments. On days where this works its a dream but at the same time, we found we still needed to be flexible. As things come out of right field with both our jobs. But broadly the husband would manage school time in the morning and I would do it in the afternoon. This also played to our strengths see below.

Mornings are generally better

We found that Charlie is more receptive in the mornings to structured learning. So worksheets, comprehensions and spellings. So generally these would happen in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we would do science, art, craft etc. When attention spans are a little less and it worked well for us as the husband is much better at structured activities, whereas I am better with the craft. Charlie loves maths and would happily just get on and do this with no help at all (he’s a bit of a whizz). We would save up this work for when we knew there was a diary clash and we both had to be on a zoom meeting at the same time.

Use technology

Not only is it great for learning. There are so many virtual tours and experiences. But also when needed do not feel guilty if you need to use it as a baby sitter.  We tried to limit tech time to two hours a day during homeschooling. But there were days when they were on it for a lot longer. Because we had to work and I would feel so bad about it! The guilt often keeping me awake at night.

It took me a while to realise that if there is a bad day as that’s the way it turns out. Then tomorrow is another day and I should not beat myself up about it. The most important thing is that we get through this as a family unit. If that means they spend a bit longer on tech for our sanity because of commitments then so be it. A happy family is much more important.

Get outside

More challenging this time of year but even if it is just for twenty minutes we need to get outside. Whether that is walking, cycling or just goofing around in the garden. Especially boys. Now we have found a new love for geocaching our plan is to use this to motivate the boys to get out and about more.

Rewards

We discovered early on that reward jars and charts did not really work for the boys because of the age gap. Motivating and rewarding a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old are two very different things. And our rewards need to reflect this. For Charlie it is 10-minute chunks on the XBox for Harry it is sweets!

Do one thing you enjoy

With all the stresses be mindful of not adding more to your must-dos. But I tried to build in one thing to the homeschooling days that we all enjoyed. For us this was normally a craft or science activity. You don’t need to pre-plan in any great depth. Just buy some craft kits so you have everything in one place. It doesn’t have to be craft it could be making simple biscuits, watching a film, playing a board game, having a zoom call with family. I am so grateful for having this extra time with the boys. I want them and us to remember the fun times.

Be kind

Above all. It is easy to lose sight and shout especially when you are getting backchat about not doing the school work. Frustration levels can run high and we did far too much of this last time round. But be kind to all and it will be a lot easier. We have already discussed this with Charlie, and we hope a gentle reminder every now and again will mean we avoid the shouty sessions of the first lockdown and homeschooling experience.

What things did you learn from homeschooling last time round? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

Stay safe and well

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10 Things I learnt from homeschooling first-time round

 

29 Comments

  1. Susan B

    Ah, yes Apart from their ages, children are very different in their needs for learning so playing to their strengths and yours is one of the main keys to success.

  2. MARIA ROGERS

    I think it is important to remember we can only do our best and stop feeling so guilty

  3. Gemma Hendry

    Thanks for this, does make me feel a lot calmer for homeschooling

  4. Rebecca Walker

    keeping a routine and not putting yourself under any pressure is absolutely key

  5. Laura Pritchard

    It’s true, the pressure I put on myself is ridiculous! I need to make it more fun tomorrow.

  6. Jenny Sue

    There are also a lot more channels of information and help out there this time

  7. Gemma Hendry

    You are doing great and we ill all get through this

  8. Fiona Karbal

    Thanks for the great tips, which I will share with my daughter who is also trying to work from home and homeschool my 5 year-old granddaughter. She also tried to do too much the last time, and ended up getting up at 4am and going to bed at midnight every day to try to do a whole day’s work while my granddaughter was asleep, which was nuts. Hopefully this time she will not push herself so hard.

  9. I think that this time round I am going to take it easy (that being said I am stressing already!) but I also want my son to do well, he is now in yr 6 so will be going to secondary school in September. I am also worring about the SATs as nobody has said that they are being cancelled along with the other exams I dont want him to go back to school and find out that they have to take them and be unprepaired but at the same time I dont want to stress him out by making him do the extra work.

  10. Sandra Fortune

    Great tips as I know how hard it is home schooling . My daughter and son in law work from home but sometimes at the same time. I have our grandson then with his school work . I think the change to having nana helps him as he tends to be quite proud to do it for me as I give him lots of praise

  11. Emma England

    Completely agree with having a routine! First time around was so hard but at least this time we have a bit of experience.

  12. Debbie Bird

    I believe routine is important as children have to stick to one when they are at school

  13. Debbie Bird

    I believe routine is important as children have to stick to one at school

  14. I love the calendar you have on the wall, you look very organised 🙂

  15. Mr Mark Adamson

    Some really useful advice in this thank you

  16. alex brownlee

    Thank you , i am homeschooling for the first time now so this is very helpful

  17. JACKIE Graham

    Good advice – I find it overwhelming and need to get more organised and give the day more structure – we have had no time to get things in place.

  18. Laura Corrall

    Thank you so much for all of these tips and reminders. Last time round I struggled more than the kids. I found it so hard when we did complete a days work and the pressure really did come all from me. Like your school ours was very relaxed too and also emphasised having fun too so we aim to do more of this.

  19. Margaret Gallagher

    Routine is key as is keeping calm – together we can beat this

  20. Carly Belsey

    Oh it is so hard isn’t it :-(. I have a 13 year old boy who is very lazy and he has a full timetable online thankfully but everything he does he needs help with as the poor teachers send over things that cant be edited and documents that do not come up properly so I find that very stressful. My 6 year old daughter is really good at school but point blank refuses to do work for me, she just wants to craft which is fine, we craft together and I try and get her in the right mood to do it and at least accomplish one thing! I cant believe we are here again. Great advice.

  21. Michael Fisher

    Excellent points and well presented. Useful to all parents.

  22. lynn neal

    The next couple of months look as though they are going to be very challenging for families!

  23. Anthea Holloway

    I agree with these points and a regular routine is so helpful and I know that mornings work much better for learning too. Well done for all you did and I am sure it will be as successful this time around.

  24. Nigel Soper

    It would indeed seem that homeschooling does present the great opportunity of tailoring the lessons for the individual children and how they learn best. Everything gets much more complicated, however, with older children and especially with those studying for GCSE and A levels. Online teaching is unlikely to maintain the quality of teaching given by schools, and parents would rarely have the knowledge and skill set needed to help with subjects outside of their experience. I may be able to manage teaching nuclear physics or nuclear electronics, but would be pretty rubbish trying to teach English literature set books such as Hamlet. I think we may have to accept that children’s education will not be as good as before and there may be a need for catch-up teaching post virus..

  25. justine meyer

    I thanks god mine are a bit older so only have one doing Uni work from home when she should be in Uni accomodation

  26. André Mendes

    Those are great tips, thanks for sharing 😉

  27. Priscilla Stubbs

    That is certainly great advice. I suppose this time round it is not such a great unknown

  28. Maggie Ali

    I do think routine is one of the most important things when it comes to home schooling. It’s going to be tough but we’ve done it once, we’ve learnt from it so hopefully this time things will be easier. Good luck!

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