Call me nosey if you wish, but the thing I always loved to read about when we started home schooling was what everybody else was doing. Especially about ordinary people on ordinary days. It told me far more about what home schooling was like than any text book, and there weren’t many of those.
So I thought I’d describe some here in the hope it might offer the support that I was hungry for.
So what was a typical day in our house?
Well, I’d wake thinking about what we’re going to do that day. Was it an indoor day or were we due out somewhere? What activities were we going to do? I tried to think up exciting things to engage the children so that they didn’t even know they were learning. (I said tried…)
I got up before the kids so I could get on with some of my own stuff before they appeared.
After breakfast, etc. I’d encourage them to get on with something they were interested in, or some academic work if it had been neglected and they looked to be in a receptive mood. We’d maybe look at books, use the computer, or carry on with a project or activity they’d already started.
We tried various approaches over the years ranging from structured timetables, weekly checklists, to a completely take-what-comes way of working. And they all worked some of the time and all failed miserably some of the time. So we usually fell back on what worked all of the time: flexibility.
We’d settle down to do something; study or skills practise, play, improvising, creating, experimenting, making, a walk, reading, whatever…and we’d keep busy till midday. After lunch we’d have some individual time separate from each other before getting back together or going out. Perhaps swimming, or library visit, trip to the park or other outdoor venue, or see friends. Or maybe the children would just play or go outside till later on in the afternoon when they’d watch some telly. We contrasted activities as much as possible; indoor with outdoor, academic with practical, home based with the opposite.
It was wonderful. So easy, happy, productive, harmonious.
But, before you think we’re sick-makingly perfect and you’re the only one having a crap day read on…there were other typical Home Educating days too.
Sometimes I’d wake thinking ‘What on earth are we going to do today?’ feeling bored and burnt out with devising activities all the time.
Then I’d launch into my first battle of the day trying to get them to leave the telly off – they’d known I was feeling delicate and tried it on.
The second battle came trying to crack on with something. I can only describe this as similar to walking from one end of a pool to another – without swimming.
When I won this battle I didn’t feel triumphant, I only felt stressed. Books were thumped reluctantly on table, scowls all round and although I’d battle bravely on nothing of real value was achieved and I’d be left thinking it would have been better if we hadn’t got up at all.
After break the third battle commenced over who was going to be first to use the computer.
I’d tell myself to keep out of it and think calming thoughts; mainly how many Aspirin can I safely take to feel better. But as usual I couldn’t keep out of it and I ended up screaming at them as loudly as they were screaming at each other. This didn’t work (obviously – it’s rubbish parenting), so I’d ban everybody from using the computer and go and sulk in my bedroom for a while. This wasn’t the best plan as it’s the furthest point from the kettle and the Aspirin. I’d sit seething till the house went suspiciously quiet and so I’d have to go back down again to see if all was well.
They’d both be happily busy like nothing had happened so I’d head for the kettle.
“Can I use the computer now?”
“That’s not fair, it’s my turn,” shrieked her sister and we were back to square one.
Boiling point reached – both me and the kettle – I’d head back to my bedroom, this time being wise enough to take my tea and the Aspirin.
But I’m happy to say these days were rare.
Here’s a third typical Home Educating day; our group day. We’d be up, keen and enthusiastic because we enjoyed it so much – the company and the activities. We’d gather the materials we’d need, a packed lunch and set off.
We’d have a fabulous morning, the children busy and happy with the activity and their friends. Sometimes it was craft, sometimes science, sometimes a field trip, museum visit or sport. Afterwards we’d maybe go to a near-by park with other families and picnic. Sometimes we’d stay in the playground or go to each others’ houses. It’d be a full, stimulating and busy day that we all got something out of.
So you’ll see, our Home Educating really didn’t have one typical day. Typically it was a combination of all those days.
The first two examples are extreme descriptions of a huge plethora of days that fell somewhere in between. And there is perhaps no truly typical Home Educating day because ‘typical’ just doesn’t seem to describe it.
Home Educating is diverse. It is varied. It is unpredictable – just like kids. It has ups and downs. It is hardly ever dull. But then, education shouldn’t be dull anyway. There may be dull bits but for the most part it should be stimulating and exciting. By home educating you get a good chance to make it so.
And that’s the reason why, despite the odd crap day – and don’t forget kids in schools get plenty of crap days, it is so wonderfully enjoyable!