How do you stand you kids round you all the time? We got asked that a lot when we home educated.
Weird that! You don’t get asked how you stand your partner round you all the time when you live with someone or get married.
I know it’s not the same obviously, but the concept of relationships is still the same. We connect and commit to the people we love. That’s why we have them! Being with them a huge amount is nice. I loved having my kids round me.
But like any relationship it has to be managed.
Being lovingly committed doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to be with our loved ones every single moment – wouldn’t your partner drive you mad if you were? And it means we organise our relationships to include healthy times apart or do separate things in the same space like one watching TV whilst the other reads a book. Separate but lovingly together.
It works similarly with home education and actually with parenting too.
Firstly you have children because you actually like to be with them don’t you? Home educating is just and extension of that.
Secondly, a different way of being together develops once the school stress is alleviated and your kids realise you’re on their side. Also when they know they have lots of your attention, they actually don’t demand it all the time.
Thirdly, as a parent, you build a little independence in your children where you can be lovingly together – independently sometimes, as well as apart.
And fourthly you encourage an understanding that each needs a little space from each other at times for relationships to endure. Which is part of respectful parenting.
The amount you do this depends on the maturity of the children and you can develop it as they grow. Here are some ideas to help achieve it:
– We kept some toys and activities that are fresh which absorbed them more than those they’re used to. When we got this secret stock out (charity shops are good for ‘new’ supplies) we could turn our focus to other jobs for a while.
– Small children are fascinated by the things around the house that you use or do. I.e. being at the sink with water and pots and pans, old technology to play with or dismantle, tools in the garden, foodstuffs to ‘cook’ with. Be inventive and create activities for them which free you up for some private space whilst they’re absorbed.
– Making a ‘new’ den in an unusual place that they don’t frequent (bath, shed, stairs). Being out of sight behind a curtain, but in the same room, helps build independence. It’s fascinating listening to them when they forget you’re there as they can’t see you…except you need to use this space from them as a bit of time for you! Ours used to take a hoard of toys in there and picnics of course.
– Be wise with time when you’re doing separate things and use it to recharge. Their time on computers/telly etc is useful for this, but at other times you need to be involved with these too.
– Talk and explain about respect for personal time; you don’t disturb them when they’re busy playing, you need them to do the same for you. Always make sure they get the attention they need afterwards.
– Providing materials to invent, create or construct with inspires kids to be busy. These don’t necessarily have to be expensive. Keep collections of things like; boxes, paper, buttons, cartons, woodcuts, jars…recycling centres are a good resource.
– We sometimes arranged time swaps with other parents and friends and relatives.
– We soon become stale with familiar activities so seek new ones, or new angles on old activities, new places to visit.
– All these ideas change and develop with the children. It might be that you can only achieve a minute or two of independent time at first. But as they grow you can develop this idea to suit the needs of your family.
– Talk to them about how you want to manage this, what your needs are and what they need too. A habit of discussion develops respect for each other which is paramount to relationships, even if it is minimal when they’re really little.
Home educating is a wonderful opportunity to be with your children, watch them grow, develop and step out into the world. There was never an occasion when we wished that they were off our hands in school. I’m not saying that there weren’t arguments and fall outs. But actually these are inevitable in parenting anyway whether home educating or not!