Home education is a hot topic amongst parents right now, as UK schools are closed to everyone other than the children of key workers. This isn’t home education in its truest sense; this is home education under strange and difficult circumstances.
My husband and I decided to home educate our daughters in July 2019. They finished school on the last day of Years 1 and 3 respectively and we’ve been at home ever since. We’re also self employed and work from home, which has thrown in some additional challenges!
No Timetables Here!
We don’t have a timetable. Through the summer, when I read everything I possibly could about home education, I came across the idea of unschooling. Unschooling, essentially, is not planning timetables, activities or assessments. It’s letting the children direct the learning. As a former primary school teacher, I’ll admit that it took me a while to get my head around this!
I wouldn’t say that we’re 100% unschooling, we’ve even dabbled with a more formal approach, but it does seem to be the style that works best for us right now. The best thing about home education is that we can change direction whenever we want to.
Every Day Is Different
No two weeks, or even days of home education have been the same for us but I’m going to try to walk you through what a typical week can look like for us. We don’t really have set hours for anything we do, unless we’re going to a group or a class. Sometimes we have a couple of days rest in the week because we’re doing things at the weekend, it really does depend!
Monday: We tend to go to our local library just after 9:00. The girls choose a mix of fiction and non-fiction, completely their choice. Sometimes they’ll be interested in something specific (like when we found frogs in the garden) so I’ll help them find relevant books. Every other week, we go to a home education social group in Lichfield. It’s a small group and we take our lunch, have a chat, do crafts and play games.
Tuesday: In the morning we go to forest school. It’s a free session that’s local and has a great mix of families. It’s our eldest daughter’s favourite part of the week and she can be found sitting up the nearest tree! Both girls love being outdoors so this session is great. They’ve played in the mud, made dens and cooked by campfire. After we get home and get changed, the afternoons are spent playing. The girls love imaginative small world kind of play, so they’re really into Playmobil and LEGO right now. They also like to make houses and things for their smaller toys to live in.
Wednesday: Every other week we go to an art class. It falls in the middle of the day, so usually the mornings are spent playing. After group we sometimes meet up with friends before coming home. Sometimes the girls will spend time on their Kindle tablets; they have time restrictions on them and can only access approved content. Our youngest likes to play games and watch cartoons, but our eldest likes to read books on hers too,
Thursday: We don’t have anything planned on Thursdays. Sometimes I let the girls carry on with something they’ve started earlier in the week. They dip in and out of art projects and junk modelling so there are always things that they could finish up! Other days they’ll play more involved role play kinds of games, like setting up a café. This involves them writing a menu, pricing things and using their play money to pay for things; very cross-curricular. I don’t prompt games like this, but I do facilitate by making the resources available.
Friday: Friday mornings are usually free, so again the girls choose what they’d like to do. Our eldest really enjoys reading and writing, so there are many times throughout the week when she wants time to do that. She’ll start most days reading for a while. Recently she’s been plotting out a mystery story and writing a comic book! When she’s doing that, our youngest tends to do some drawing. She’s been a reluctant writer, but recently she’s been trying to write notes to us or captions for her drawings. Seeing her sister writing has been great motivation. Every other Friday afternoon is another social group in Sutton Coldfield. This one is much larger, but still has games, craft activities and other things to do. If we’re not doing that then the girls are quite keen on baking. Baking is a great way to get some maths into the week! Friday evenings have recently become our family game night. We play board games together as a family and, not only do they learn lots through various games, it’s a lovely way to come together at the end of the week.
It would be easy to look at what we do all week and think that the girls aren’t learning very much. I’d argue that they absolutely are. All of the traditional school subjects can be found woven throughout our week, just in a different way. Although I’m not formally assessing anything that the girls do, I am keeping my own records and I can see how their learning is moving along. What I love about home education is that we’re moving at the girls’ own pace and learning doing things that they love.
I’ve set up a Facebook group for anyone who wants to ask questions, share advice, chat about activities and just talk to other parents. Click HERE to join us!