Managing the joy of home educating!

Half term. And some parents will be moaning about having their kids round them for a week.

Of course, home educating parents have that full time and mostly they enjoy having their kids round them. That’s why they had them!

Never the less, managing that enjoyment requires attention because, as with anything, over kill can ruin it. And children and adults have different needs and different interests, all of which deserve respect.

Family life isn’t only about what kids want. And to educate children about the world also requires educating them to understanding how they fit into the world and with other people. Education has an element of give and take – it’s not all take on the kids’ side and all give from the parents. Parents and children are a team – family life requires team work. And if children can feel part of that it makes them feel useful and loved, develops confidence and self esteem. Makes them happy.

How parents manage being together – or not – with their children is very personal and individual. As with everything, I think it’s a question of balance.

We need to be attentive, but to be attentive and at your child’s disposal whenever they demand it is perhaps not giving them an understanding of how the real world of relationships work. As with all relationships it is healthy to have some space from one another, so why should we not expect that between parents and children? For example; I love my partner to bits but if we were together all the time I think we would be in bits of a different kind! We respect and love each other enough to know we need time apart. We would be doing our kids a disservice if we didn’t teach them that about relationships.

However, the concept of ‘adult time’ or ‘time out’ always makes me squirm a little as it suggests that adults are deserving of something that kids are not and seems a bit of a put-down. But teaching children that time apart out of mutual respect, because we’re all busy doing other things at times, is a healthy part of all loving relationships, is an important part of their education.

Not to mention understanding that everyone has needs, mums and dads too. These have to be balanced within the relationship of give and take, depending on the age of the child.

Another view is that if our time with our children – our team – is engaged and happy and fulfilling, then there isn’t such a need for space as there is when children are frustrated, irritated, or constantly demanding the attention they crave when they haven’t had it. Some parents think that the more attention kids receive, the more they demand it. I found it to be the opposite; if they are secure in knowing they receive loving attention they don’t have the need to demand it.

You can sometimes achieve a moment’s mental and spiritual space right alongside a contentedly occupied child. Space doesn’t always need to be physical. When parents say ‘the kids are doing my head in’ it is often just that; in the head. We may need to clear our thoughts and practice ways of gaining mental calm by letting go of the unnecessary and focussing on calmer thoughts.

I went through varying stages of managing my own needs in balance with the children’s which you can read (and laugh) about in the new book A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION. But I think I would now say that, actually, you don’t need that much space from happy contented busy children; they are a joy to be with. You just need to keep their happiness in balance with your own.

Not forgetting that one day they will have flown away and space becomes an empty house!


9 thoughts on “Managing the joy of home educating!

  1. It’s definitely a challenge for me to find the right balance between being with the kids and having time alone. I’m naturally introverted so I feel myself getting very tense and irritable when I don’t have some time alone. But my twins are 6 years old, and they are still at a stage where they want to be around me most of the time. I also know that they will grow up fast; I don’t want to miss out on moments together and have regrets in the future.

  2. Thanks for this Jane, and so succinctly identifying the difference between ‘adult’ time (as if we were superior) and ‘me’ time which the children need too and will be able to recognise in their future relationships!

  3. I can still remember those first days of school holidays, when the kids seemed to need so much attention. Perhaps it was the lack of one to one attention at school or my feelings of overwhelm, I dont know. I now know having the children home full time is nothing like them being on school holidays. It all seems to settle down nicely and calmly into a routine where everyone has their needs met. Parents of school children do not often get this opportunity of tranquil companionship.

  4. I totally agree – I remember when Will was younger, my friends would say that they couldn’t imagine having their children around all the time but I could take him anywhere without him demanding attention from me because he got so much of it at other times. Now he’s older, we sit working side by side on the laptops and it is simply like sharing an office as many folks do at work. Great book by the way – love it.

  5. Absolutely Ross, great post! It’s not ‘adult time’ I need, but ‘me time’ and I recognise that it’s the same for the children. I’ve tried to make sure we all appreciate that in this house and give each other the space we need. While it was challenging being together so much when we started home educating, over the years we’ve fallen into a rhythm and it’s now just natural. In fact, one of the reasons my youngest gave when she decided to leave school and return to home education was that she missed being with the family 🙂

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