14 Apr Remain flexible with home-schooling timetables
Follow their lead – make that timetable but don’t panic if you veer off-topic
Making a schedule of learning definitely provides everyone with a focus and an expectation, but, I feel it’s crucial to remain flexible with home-schooling timetables. And here’s why.
The efficiency of home learning versus a classroom environment needs to be realised. It is easily possible to achieve the same educational outcomes for a topic in far less time when you are spending one-on-one time with your child. Think of the time spent in lines, waiting for hand-outs or for people to be quiet, and discussions about homework requirements. You will have none of these to worry about; therefore a 30 minute session rather than 50 minutes is much more realistic.
Don’t panic if you veer off-topic
This can actually present ideal learning opportunities by following the child’s natural curiosity. If you have a History lesson on your timetable to learn about the Battle of Hastings, do not worry if the conversation morphs from King Harold’s demise, to William the Conqueror, to France and maybe to French food followed by restaurants, to food supply chains to HGVs to food miles…well, you get the picture. If your child is engaged and asking questions, I would always advise you follow their interest, and the Battle of Hastings will always be there to pick up another day.
One of the great advantages of home-education is not having to adhere to defined lesson times. For example if you’ve scheduled a 45 minute lesson on how to use a semi-colon and your child has finished all the exercises in 20 mins – and fully understands the principles – then don’t feel the need to fill the remaining 25 mins on more semi-colon exercises. All you will achieve is their switching off as they lose engagement. A fantastic use of that time would be to send them outside in the garden for 20 minutes instead, ask them to plan a recipe for the following week, or draw a picture for their grandparents.
Let children guide the learning too
When planning your timetable for the week ahead, make a point of asking your child of any topics they would like to learn about and plan that in to the schedule. Be it finding out more about bees, a solar eclipse, or how many trees are in the Amazon rainforest. You could even give them the role of teacher. They could conduct some research and share their findings on the topic for two minutes to the family after tea. Again, the point here is your opportunity to maximise their current curiosity.
Always break up ‘lessons’ with other tasks – such as cooking (on their own if old enough), exercise, and art. Try to always remain flexible in the case of last minute changes. Your ‘lesson’ timetable does not need to fill 9am – 3.30pm every day. Use these extraordinary circumstances to build in periods of time for your child to wind down, play with their toys or siblings and read for pleasure.
Evaluate progress together
Review your timetable with your child at the end of each week. Discuss what worked and what didn’t and how things can be improved in the future. This will encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning outcomes which is a fantastic skill to take forward with them when they do return to the classroom.