Tag Archive | education

Play, learn, research – it’s all the same to education!

A friend and I were talking about playing. This is not about the children you understand, they’re all adult now, we were talking about us and what we’d been playing at!

Play gets a bad press. Our target and objective obsessed culture – and education – leaves little room for play. It’s increasingly squeezed out of our lives, squeezed out of childhood, definitely squeezed out of learning.

The crime of that is that play is a very profound and valid way of learning.

But at the risk of being accused of ‘wasting time’ most of us don’t do it any more.

My friend and I are both branching out into new realms. And both of us need to put in a huge amount of hours to develop the skills needed. Much of this is experimentation and trial and error. Basically we need to play around our subjects to learn and become practised at them.

Me playing with ways of presenting words! Encourage your children to play with materials, tools, ideas.

But the label of play – to describe our associated activities in that way – gives us the shivers. For we’re supposed to be ‘working’ aren’t we?

And that’s where the confusion lies. Play is valuable work too.

You rarely come away from playing with various materials (think cooking, becoming proficient with your latest gadget, or all kinds of creative activities) without having learnt something.

Playing is an extremely useful form of research. Many important discoveries have been made by accident, and some of our most renowned genius’ like Leonardo Da Vinci for example, have come to greatness through playing around with ideas.

By making less and less time and opportunity in children’s lives – and education – for them to play, we are denying them valuable chances to develop their minds and skills. Whether that’s tiny tots playing with what’s around them as a form of discovery, children playing with bricks, books, junk, tools, utensils, household stuff, art and crafts materials, or teenagers with their gadgets, games and technology; understand that this is how they are learning and developing.

It’s all valuable research into the stuff of life. The stuff of work. Development of the mental as much as the physical. Development that will enhance their capacity to learn.

Play, learn, research; they are all inseparably interlinked. (Interesting article on the benefits of play here)

So we should encourage our youngsters to play as much as possible. It is never a waste of time.

And as my friend and I discussed; that applies to us adults too. We’ll just call it research from now on!

Home Educating and just needing a little bolster?

I well remember how daunted you can feel when home schooling. It’s incredibly exciting and inspirational but daunting just the same!

So I thought I’d repost this; knowing that is often the most simple – but less obvious – advice that helps the most, hoping it will bolster you up whether you’re starting out or been doing it awhile.

–          Keep light and flexible.

We are almost conditioned to get heavy over education. Worried. Intense. Objective led. Future obsessed. That’s how education has been seen throughout the decades. This isn’t the best way forward because whilst we are intensely pushing to specific objectives, we are often wearing blinkers and missing incidental learning that is happening all the time, here and now. Learning is just as effective when it happens by incidental experience as it is when it was planned. For example; did you need intense objectives to learn how to use your mobile? No – you just experienced it. Could other things be learnt the same way? Definitely! Focus as much in the here and now, making it a good learning experience.

–          Be patient.

You cannot force an education any more than you can force a child to grow. You have to nurture it instead. This takes time. Just because your child cannot grasp something now doesn’t mean they’ll never grasp it. Ignore the concept of achieving things by certain ages – kids will get there in the end. Time needs to pass by. Sometimes you have to leave it alone.

Relaxed and happy approaches work very well!

–          Relax and enjoy.

Who says education has to be all hard work to be effective? It doesn’t. Conversely, an enjoyable education is very effective. A child who learns in an environment that is relaxed and happy will achieve far more of use to living a successful life than one who is hung up about learning. If you’re hung up about learning, it hampers your whole life. Enjoy your children; enjoy showing them this wonderful world and the skills they need to live in it. That’s what education is for.

–          Remain open minded.

The traditional practices associated with learning in schools are so ingrained in us it’s hard to believe that any other approach could work. It does. Lots of approaches work. Learning through play being one of them (think phone again). Another simple example: children can learn maths on the settee, lying on the floor, in the car, in the chip shop, going round the supermarket, just as well as sitting at a desk. It’s only adults who think they can’t!

–          Remember why you’re doing it!

One sure thing that gave me big wobblies about our home educating was focussing on schools and the way they did things, instead of focussing on why we were opting to do something different. Most HE parents want their children to be happy, learning, achieving – if yours are doing so you don’t need to worry what other school children are doing. For example; there will be thousands of children who went to school during the years my two and their HE friends were home schooling, but they and ours have all ended up in roughly the same place at the same age. Different pathways; same results…although it turns out the home school children seem to know a lot more despite not sitting in classrooms all day.

Funny that!

Read just how terrified I was, how we got through our first few years and exactly what is was like living a home educating life in my story ‘A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION’. See the Books page for details.

Why I loved home educating so much

We loved every minute of our home educating years. Well – to clarify – it wasn’t roses all the time but then parenting isn’t roses all the time is it? And although it was a decision hard to make since the children had started school, it wasn’t a decision that we ever regretted, even for one single moment. And we don’t have any complaints from the now-adults we practised on either!

So what was it I loved so much?

Firstly, the children got their love of learning back, their wonder and curiosity about everything, destroyed in school whilst they had to learn and practice other stuff that was of no interest or relevance. I mean, what use is knowledge of frontal adverbials to a nine year old when there’s a treasure trove of real world stuff under their noses they want to know about?

Secondly, along with their passion to learn, their health was restored too which had dwindled into constant and miserable infections. Although their infectious laughter had been wiped out, along with their joyous mental health. Home educating reinstated both.

Learn any place – a treasure trove of real world stuff!

I loved the freedom to learn in ways that suited us best whether that was going out or study, playing or doing practical stuff, visiting museums, castles and historical sites, galleries and exhibitions, nature reserves, parks and playgrounds and beaches, or the library. Or meeting others for exercise and get togethers, sports or workshops. The realisation that you can take your learning any place, anyhow, at anytime. Learn into the evenings if early mornings weren’t suited (as they’re not to teenagers).

I loved the freedom they had to pursue and develop their own skills, talents and interests, the flexibility of curriculum or timetables (when we used them), subject matter and approach. Instead of sticking to a rigid set of objectives deemed important by someone else but not important to the learner at all. The freedom to keep it balanced.

I loved the diversity and opportunity to match life and learning to our needs, rather than the needs of an institution, or a test. Learning and living became one and the same thing for that’s what education is all about anyway, isn’t it? Learning to live life in a happy, productive and successful way – not learning to be tested. Home educating gave us the opportunity to make truly independent decisions about what was happy and productive and successful. Which is ironic really since home educators are often accused of keeping their children dependent on their parents. The truth is, the opposite seems to happen; being independent learners makes them independent in many aspects of life and very competent decision makers – they’ve had the practice. Whereas most school children are so ‘schooled’ and have such little choice, they are the ones that become dependent; on an institution making a decision for them.

I loved the social side of it; the opportunity for the kids to make friends in real social groups, not enforced groups with limits on age and what brands you owned, the high proportion of adults to kids to set respectful social examples, the way we could chat confidently with all sorts of people in differing situations.

I loved home educating. It was the best thing this family ever did. It worked for our circumstances, for our personalities and I felt incredibly lucky that we were able to do it, for I know it certainly won’t work for all. But for us, it released the children’s learning from the strait-jacket of a political system and returned it to the holistic development of a balanced individual with an intelligence broader than that required to just pass exams.

And most of all I loved the fact that the children discovered the real truth about education; that it was not something inflicted upon them by others sometimes in dull and degrading ways. But a living and ongoing opportunity for investigation of the real world, for growth and personal development, that was fully theirs – not a school’s – that they had charge of and was a way of living that would enhance their life.

Life long!

See ‘A Home Education Notebook to encourage and inspire’ for the rest of this article about having a wobble and loving it anyway! Published by Eyrie Press and also available on Amazon.

School-at-home, home schooling, home education – what’s in a label?

Whilst schools have been closed and everyone’s children learning at home during lockdown the term ‘home schooling’ has been commonly used to describe all children’s learning out of school.

But those who were ‘home schooling’ before ‘school-at-home’ came into being know that it is not the same thing. And most experienced home educating families prefer the title ‘home educating’ anyway.

But why are we getting up tight about labels?

The main reasons school-at-home, and home schooling or home education which parents were already doing, are different is that school-at-home parents have been thrust into it without choice, but generally with some guidance and practical lessons from schools.

With home schooling or home education, which families were already practising prior to lockdown, parents take full responsibility for their children’s education and deregister themselves from any school and consequently any support from them.

Many experienced home educating families prefer not to use the term home schooling because of the connotations of the words ‘schooling’ and ‘educating’.

Their use of the term ‘home education’ is based on the definition of education in its broadest sense as in bringing out, or developing of potential, rather than the drilling of facts and skills into the young as it has become through schooling. There is a very interesting article ‘What Is Education’ on the Infed.org site which gives a definition of education as ‘the wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning’ which is how many home educating families interpret it and which you can’t help but feel is lacking in many school approaches.

Most definitions of schooling mean educating in school, which is why most experienced home educators like to shy away from using the term ‘schooling’. It suggests a training or drilling of children that can disregard their needs and learning preferences and is often the reason parents step away from mainstream school. Schooling tends to have the agenda of the school at its heart, rather than the needs of the individual.

Home educators generally see the education of their children as a much broader more balanced undertaking and use approaches in line with that, which put the interests, preferences and needs of the child at its heart.

So the difference in the terms is important to them.

However, ‘home education’ it’s more of a mouthful! And ‘home schooling’ has become the most popular term, especially in the media, used to refer to those families whose children do not go to school but do their learning independently of them. But it is not to be confused with school-at-home which no doubt will end.

As parents progress with home schooling, taking advantage of the choices and flexibility it offers, and see how children learn and become educated almost by themselves through the many diverse and varied approaches available, they begin to appreciate these subtle differences.

There are other labels and philosophies attached to home educating, like De-schooling and Un-schooling and World-schooling, which parents also use.

De-schooling usually refers to the time and process of recovery needed for those children who’ve been in school and switch to home educating. It takes a while for children and parents to adjust to learning in different ways, to release any damaging effects of school and get used to new routines, approaches and choices open to them.

Un-schooling is similar, except that it doesn’t necessarily refer to recovery from school, more an approach to learning and educating that doesn’t rely on familiar habits and traditions we associate with a school style approach to learning many of us have ingrained within us. As the saying goes; we can take the child (and ourselves) out of school but it’s more difficult to take the schooling out of us! (Excellent book on the subject which I blogged about recently here).

World-schooling generally refers to parents who facilitate their children’s learning out in the real world, often through travelling, away from the school world, or those who have alternative lifestyles different from the mainstream. They see the world outside of school as a way of making their educational provision.

But labels aside, what’s more important than what it’s called, is what parents do as home educators/home schoolers. That they are guided by the needs of their child within the context of them taking their place in the world, by finding approaches that work for their circumstances and that all are happy with it.

Many understand all the above as the same thing anyway – and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter to the kids what we call it. It’s what we do that counts. And there’s a huge diversity and flexibility in what you can do to make home educating a success!

To comfort and inspire

This time last year was so different! Who’d have predicted what we’re going through now!

I was looking back at some of last May’s posts and came across these points about home education that may offer some comfort to any existing home educators having a wobble right now, and inspiration to those who might be considering continuing with it after schools reopen again:

  • Home educated children can go on to achieve good grades just like other children do. They go to university, college, or into work or businesses like other young people. Their academic, social and personal skills are reputed to be in front of those of their school peers. Education is a long term process with no guarantees – none with school either – but there are thousands of home schooled youngsters who’ve already proved the above to be true.
  • Home educated children are not isolated or invisible as has been suggested. Most interact with a wide range of people, in a wide range of places, doing a broad range of activities. Some have far more life experience than those children who just have school experience. Most have mature social skills, often exceeding some of the adults you meet!
  • Thousands of families turn to home education because schools fail to provide for their children’s needs, both academic and personal. In some cases this has been a life line for children who’ve suffered in school the kind of abuse that just would not be tolerated by adults in a workplace. Home educators are the parents who take initiative to do something about their children’s suffering rather than just ignoring it. And most of these children become as competent, intelligent and educated as their peers in school.
  • Children who have been written off by the educational system or labelled as having ‘learning difficulties’ or ‘special needs’, for example, have gone on to achieve a good academic standard through home education.
  • Home educating families are as ordinary as any other families who have the same ordinary aspirations for their children to achieve and be happy. They come from all ranges of the social, educational, financial and cultural backgrounds that make up our society.
  • Home educators may not do mainstream school, but they do all other aspects of mainstream life – sports, clubs, extra-curricular lessons and activities etc – interact in mainstream community and ‘fit in’ just the same.
  • Home educated children go on to achieve the same successful outcomes, if not better, than children in schools.
  • Contrary to what most parents think, children learn in a multitude of different ways, not just in the conveyor belt style of the educational system. Home educating gives children the opportunity to learn in the way that suits them best, increasing their chances of success. This doesn’t necessarily mean academic cramming. It means acknowledgement of the myriad of alternative approaches there are to learning, to opportunities, to qualifications, to being educated, and making best use of them.
  • In my experience as a home educator within a wide network of other home educators, and whilst researching for my books, I have never come across an incidence of abuse or neglect, which has been cited as a risk home educated children are under. However I saw plenty of cases of abuse and neglect when I worked in schools.

Lots more in my home education notebook – from which this is taken – also to comfort and inspire!

Lockdown: a good time to question

Well I wasn’t going to put my own mugshot on here, my daughter’s much more photogenic!

My daughter’s given me a haircut.

Is she a hairdresser? No! Does she have any idea about what she’s doing? No! Has she had any training about shaping a short cut?

Nope!

But stuck in during Lockdown and unable to go to the hairdressers I decided to risk it or end up looking like a shaggy dog.

It’s turned out brilliantly. Choppy admittedly but that’s just how I like it. Which has made me question why the heck I’m bothering traipsing to the hairdressers once a month.

Lockdown is inevitably making us confront and question many parts of our life. And I suspect there are others who are now questioning those things they suddenly find they can do for themselves, children’s learning being one of them.

A huge majority of parents have been thrust into the scary position of having their children learn at home, when they wouldn’t choose to. But I guess in some cases, where it’s working quite well, it’s prompting questions about what goes on in schools.

Now I’m not questioning the incredible skills of good hairdressers or brilliant teachers. Neither am I suggesting they’re the same thing! And of course this is only a temporary situation.

What I am suggesting is that lockdown is raising questions about schooling and learning that have long needed to be asked. Questions like; what are schools actually providing – educationally, holistically, health wise, or in terms of child care perhaps? Do kids actually need teachers in order to learn? Or do they need a more nurturing environment in order to reach potential? Can a DIY style home education work just as well as that which schools provide?

The answer to the final question is a definite yes; thousands of home educating families have already proved it. And there is a generation of home schooled youngsters now out in the world working, earning, contributing, and no one would ever know they’d not been to school – as one colleague commented to my eldest.

So there is plenty of proof that home educating is a very successful approach to learning if a child isn’t thriving in school as ours weren’t, as many don’t.

Some just exist, or endure, but is that enough?

A lot of parents say that they’d like to home educate but are worried about the risk. My answer to that would be that we take risks with everything we do, home educating or sending kids to school – certainly with impromptu haircuts and even those at the hairdressers actually!

But whatever we do with our children we can engage in a continual process of review, reassessment, research and analysis of what’s not working and find an approach that does and adapt. Which is more than I can say when I take the risk with a haircut – can hardly stick it back on again if it goes wrong!

We are not going to remain unchanged by this time of lockdown. And perhaps one of the good things that will come of it will be that we review our ideas, values and priorities about many things. The approach to learning and educating our children among them.

This time of school-at-home is not the same as home educating, where you develop a completely different approach to learning than the prescriptive ones schools have to adopt. But if your child has thrived, and you have survived during your time without school in your family life, you might want to reconsider your priorities about schooling and take a more in depth look at the alternative that thousands find fulfilling and successful.

There is plenty of support now to help you!

Are you discombobulated about your children’s learning?

If you’re struggling with your children’s education right now, being mindful in the way you think about it might make you feel a little easier.

Whether you’re doing school-at-home or home educating many of the same issues arise in ‘doing the work’, creating pressures in family life that make everyone feel discombobulated!

I love that word. Discombobulated describes very succinctly what we’re all feeling during this corona crisis. It’s defined as confused and disconcerted. Fits the bill, doesn’t it?

And I imagine many parents are discombobulated about their children’s education right now, both those doing school-set tasks at home and those who were already home educating for whom the lockdown is just as inhibiting.

Some of our feelings are caused by the pressure that we put upon ourselves when we’re not mindful of the way we think about it.

For example; think about the school day. Parents tend to think about kids in school doing useful stuff from 9 am til 3 pm but it doesn’t exactly work like that. During those hours there is a lot of moving about, messing about, distractions, disruptions, wandering attention and general procrastination and time wasting. I averaged it once in a classroom; the children actually only get about 7 minutes an hour of constructive time! So if you’re pressurising your child to do 9 til 3 non stop ‘work’ because that’s what you think they do in school I should stop. Whether you’re home educating or doing school-at-home your child will work more quickly through stuff and will have a lot more time for other valuable pursuits which contribute to their educational advancement in ways you’d never imagine!

Another example, thinking about the basics; the maths, english and science done in schools is designed to be done in schools and in such a way it can be measured. This can make it dull and the children switch off from seeing them as interesting subjects. However maths, english and science come up in everyday life at home all the time in much more relevant ways. For example, budgeting (maths) is a constant consideration (and essential life skill). Messaging, searching online, reading anything, comics, any form of writing like lists for example (not forgetting drawing and colouring are excellent for practising skills involved in writing) all increase the use and understanding of vocabulary and language as do discussions and chats – all useful literacy practice. And we are involved in science all the time in everything we do if you just notice – and use it as a starting point for investigation. We have bodies – biology. We use stuff and live in stuff which all originated at some point from the earth (materials, properties, sources etc). Not only do we have a virus crisis (what’s a virus?) we have a planetary crisis – the planet being one of the most important subjects for scientific research. Do you see what I mean? Scientific questioning and discussion develops a scientific mind as much as anything you might do in a workbook – and it’s real. Making maths english and science relevant to the youngsters’ lives through real stuff is as valuable as the maths, english and science you do on the curriculum. Be innovative about how you tackle it; relating it to life makes it more interesting and doable.

And finally be mindful of the idea that everything you do has the potential to be educative; your family interaction, discussions, contact by tech, cooking, organising, getting your exercise, playing, looking after yourself, managing life together, clapping the NHS. All builds skills, mental, physical, life skills – all has a worth.

This is a time of trauma for everyone. No one needs added pressure brought by needless worry about ‘school work’ or dull academic exercises.

We are all discombobulated! Many of our comfort blankets are gone and we’re all having to work life out in new ways for the time being. Fretting about academics will not help. And is not necessary for I bet that when the kids are in their twenties you’ll never even notice the school days they missed or this time of home schooling – however you’re doing it!

Family harmony, security, nurture and getting through as happily as you can are more important than academics right now. Far better the children remember a happy time of family learning together than the pressure of being forced to do stuff that’s less than relevant in this discombobulated time. Not forgetting that even discombobulated, and how you tackle it, can be educational!

So I suggest you take the pressure of yourselves – and the kids – and rethink it!

For when you’re losing the will…

I’m finding it tough now! I’m sure you’re the same. Some days I get to the point where I’ve lost the will to be cheerful or motivated.

Bet you know the feeling? Which is what prompted me to doodle this.

Feel free to share…

This Lockdown – or rather the awful pandemic – is a catastrophic challenge for us all, whoever we are, whatever we do. Perhaps a way to help ourselves is by being realistic: We’re not going to manage upbeat, or busy, or motivated all the time as I’ve been trying to. Some days just have to be got through.

Staying in is hard, despite sweet moments we may have. It’s incredibly demanding mentally and spiritually being home based all the time. Our resilience will wear thin at times, without the dilution of going out.

I especially feel for those who are not used to it and the kids who are used to school. Some families, who are not used to being together so much like home educators are, perhaps have it doubly tough. However, home educators have it tough too because they can’t go out as they’re used to. Everyone’s facing challenges if for different reasons.

But we’ve all got to screw up the courage to keep going from somewhere for a very important reason; because the kids will learn how from you. And courage and endurance are important life skills.

So think how you’re going to do it – when you can, that is.

If your children are working at their school stuff online help them keep motivated by talking about how you’d push through your tricky bits. Perhaps you promise yourself a walk/treat/cuppa/Netflicks when you’ve worked for an hour, for example, or start the day with warming exercises or a good dance and a giggle to get you going. Or by discussing what you’re going to enjoy when the tough bit’s done. Explain how you do it at work.

Having conversations in the family about motivation and how to energise it will help your kids learn about motivation and getting through boring bits, another essential life skill.

If you’re a home educating family already used to working in a DIY or self-directed way maybe there are school kids you know who could link up with yours online and share what you’re doing. That’ll help yours keep motivated too.

Children are inspired, remember, not so much by being taught but by the experience of seeing how others tackle and overcome challenges.

This closeted time is a tough one. For all the family. It’s a time for being inventive about living and working together – and surviving amicably with as little damage as possible! Even the bad days.

But on those days remember what it says above – some days it’s enough just to get through and stay well. And even the ability to do that, will be teaching your children something!

Mind your attitude

I’m aware there is some conflict!

Hardly surprising in these tricky times.

It’s really odd to suddenly have ‘home schooling’ thrust into the limelight when there’s times home educators have been made to feel like anti-establishment, boat rocking, nuisances who ought to get real! As if school is ‘real’? And as if that’s what we do it for.

We don’t. We do it for the good of our kids. Why would anyone put themselves through the enormity of the challenge of home educating if it wasn’t from the deep desire to do that?

Now, of course, everyone’s having to ‘home school’.

Or are they?

Most experienced home educators wouldn’t even use the term ‘home schooling’ (there’s a post about the differences here) or equate it in any way with what’s going on now. What’s going on now is basically school-at-home and biding time until the mass child minding centres open again and start testing and scoring and grading and pitching kids against one another through the mass political institution that is known as education.

But enough of that; I don’t want to rant and it’s not the point here.

The point is that we’re all in it together. Because we all have the same parental desire and are headed in the same direction: To have intelligent, well developed and happy kids who are able to move forward in caring and productive ways and get where they want to go, whether through employment or work of their own.

And we should respect that there are many approaches to doing this successfully, whatever you want to call it and wherever it takes place.

I knew families whose children never went to school. Ever.

I knew families who started with school then switched to home educating.

I knew families who had some children in school and some home educating.

I knew others who had all their children in school.

Others still who started home educating then switched to school at secondary. And vice versa.

I knew some who generally used school but home educated for a term/year/however long it was needed for the good of the child’s development, returning them to school at a later date.

And here’s the thing: All these approaches worked.

There are many different approaches to learning and any can work as long as they are managed carefully and respectfully.

And the point at the moment is not what you call it, is not home educating or doing school-at-home whilst there’s an abnormal interruption in the service most parents are used to. The point is everyone is struggling with a strange situation, whatever approach they started out with. And it will best be weathered if we support one another and refrain from making any judgements about what each is doing. We’re not politicians after all. 😀

All the parents who are having to deal with the children being at home instead of school could maybe grow a little more respect for home educators. All the experienced home educators, although conscious of school-at-home being very different from what they do, may be able to increase awareness of home educating that has previously been misunderstood.

And everyone can focus on the important thing; keeping the needs of the children at the heart of everything they do.

There need be no conflict between schools, home schooling, school-at-home, or home education – or parenting for that matter.

We are all different. We are all trying to survive these unprecedented times in the best way we can. But one thing we can do is care for each other, try and see other points of view, and be supportive rather than in conflict.

Warfare about our approaches and responses to the education of the children during this time is as unhelpful as the stupid and ignorant warfare between politicians when they’re campaigning.

It’s also the opposite of an open and inclusive attitude we want to foster within education – within society – within life.

So it’s not only what you’re doing with the kids that’s the point. The attitude you’re doing it with matters just as much.

Be easy. Reserve judgement. Open your mind. Learn.

This time is short and will quickly change and we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. And hopefully some better attitudes will result!

How are my faithful followers getting on?

I have been posting recently for a new swathe of parents who suddenly find themselves in the difficult predicament of doing school at home. And I fear I may have neglected my long term proper home educating followers who will be having just as tough a time of it.

No doubt you’ll have been on the receiving end of comments about it being ‘alright for you – you’re used to it’ etc! When I know darn well it won’t be alright for you, it’ll be just as hard stuck in the house when you’re normally not at-home educating much at all.

How are you getting on?

I can imagine it’s brought challenging changes with not being able to frequent your favourite places or meet others like you’d normally do.

For, if you’re anything like us, you’d normally be out and about as much as at home! And more social than isolated, something else others don’t understand, and now you’re denied all that it must be difficult to deal with.

I hope you’re faring okay.

I don’t have small children in the house any more but we do have our youngest (Charley from ‘A Funny Kind of Education’, now in her mid twenties would you believe) living with us at the moment as a stop gap between moving which we now realise will go on for a lot longer than anticipated. And lovely though it is to have her here, we’re all adjusting to not going out and working round each other when adult tensions can be as challenging as childhood ones!

Getting out of the house when we were home educating was very much part of our daily routine with swimming, library, nature reserves, socials, workshops, as it’s probably part of yours, so I totally get how hard it must be being house bound. I’m feeling it too. Never thought I’d ever find a trip to the supermarket appealing!

Some of the tips in the blog ‘Essential tips for being Together’ about creating personal space might help, if you don’t practise that already.

Another tip might be to make use of these weird circumstances for further learning.

For example, currently there’s plenty of material for conversation and debate, remembering that conversations are as educative as any exercise in a workbook so get talking. It can be a comfort to the children (keeping off the doom and gloom and keeping it objective). And a good opportunity for extending language skills and confidence.

It’s also an opportunity for historical research, for looking back and seeing other times throughout our history when restrictions were imposed. I don’t just mean major ones like wars, with rationing and nights in shelters, I mean some of the smaller ones like the attempts to conserve electricity during the miners’ strikes or the water restrictions in 1976 – both good issues for study, speculation and discussion.

Another activity might come from discovering ways to get social (safely and with distance) with people you perhaps haven’t interacted with before on your immediate doorstep like street neighbours. Particularly valuable if they’re on their own. A friendly face over the garden fence, through a window, or across the doorsteps might be just what they need and it’s a good opportunity for the kids to practise social skills in a way they perhaps haven’t before (remembering the essential safety guidelines of course). Be inventive with ways to safely connect. And maybe look at ways to help others less fortunate.

Another memory I have of our home educating days were patches of time when we were out and about so much it was easy not to bother giving time to home based activities. So along with some academic basics we made time for art and craft, making and constructing, reusing and re-purposing, always playing, all which gets those mental processes stimulated and builds skills which can be used for academics later on. This is a time for those home creations!

A home based day – from the archives

I hope some of this is of help. I know that most of you who connect with me, many who’ve been following for some time and others just joining too, are incredibly inventive and entrepreneurial about your learning approaches and life in general. And what you do most of you is nothing like the current attempts to do school at home.

But I appreciate how hard it must be – it was hard sometimes when we could get out, never mind what you’re going through now. So more than ever you’ll need to treat yourselves with kindness and patience whilst these difficult times run their course.

Go gently. Don’t panic. Keep relaxed and busy. Feel your way through.

This time will pass. I’m thinking of you and what strange Home Ed times you’re dealing with. You’re making history!

Meanwhile, if you have the time do share any ideas in the comments below about how you’re coping and the impact it’s made on you. I always love to hear from you.