{Learning at Home} Keep Calm!

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

As of today Guernsey schools are officially closed, two weeks ahead of the Easter holidays meaning at least 4 weeks at home for Guernsey children with a recommendation to socially distance (not self isolate as yet, unless you’re considered more vulnerable), meaning most families can still pop outdoors for some sensibly distanced fresh air at this time.

(N.B. The situation may have changed since this post was published on Monday, 23rd March 2020 at 9:00. Please keep an eye on the States of Guernsey website for the latest updates.)

Firstly parents, please don’t panic! Your kids are home from school for 6 weeks over the school summer holidays every year, often enjoying lots of unscheduled free time and they do just fine.

Yes these school closures could last much longer, but we don’t know that for certain at this stage and you now have time to plan for that possibility over the coming weeks.

Secondly, during these school closures your child’s education is still the responsibility of as the States of Guernsey, Education Department and the schools will likely be providing you with suggestions of projects, online resources and apps to use whilst your child is at home. So again, don’t panic! You will be supported and guided over the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime as a registered, long term home educator I just want to share a few pieces of advice that I give to new home educators, which I hope will also calm your nerves and reassure you as you transition into learning at home with your children this week.

5 ways to keep calm as you transition into learning at home with your children:

 

1. Take things slow

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

Honestly, even if you treat the next 4 weeks as an extended Easter holiday and simply schedule lots of free play, outdoor walks and family fun activities, you’ll have done plenty.

You don’t have to have everything sorted straight away. It’s fine to take a few weeks to prepare, come up with ideas and formulate some sort of plan. It’s fine to start small and to start slow, introducing one subject into the school day at a time.

Our full days of learning have been a process of two and half years of slowly adding in the next thing, working out what works, rejigging things accordingly and then trying again. Give yourself some grace, you’re learning too!

Just figure out what your priority is. It may be reading practice, maths, a daily walk or craft? Pick one area, establish that into your daily routine and then add in the next thing. It’s like spinning plates. It’s easier to spin the next plate once you’ve already got the first plate spinning.

 

2. Keep it simple

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

Sometimes less is more and as I said in my last post there are many simple things you can do to learn at home as a family. Think crafts and games, gardening and baking, not tedious worksheets and hours studiously sat around a table.

Learning from home can be noisy and messy and that’s okay! One of the great things about learning at home is that you can be creative in how you learn, when you learn and what you learn. There is no right or wrong way to home educate and every home educating family I know does it differently, so just do it your way.

 

3. Forget about school

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Learning from home looks very different to learning at school. My kids aren’t sent out for break time at 10:00am everyday or sat at little desks whilst I stand by a white board and deliver a lesson. Most of our learning takes place cuddled up on the sofa, outdoors in nature or at the dining table with our craft supplies strewn around.

Just remember…

  • You don’t need a strict daily schedule or even a weekly timetable
  • You don’t need to do maths every day nor cover all subjects every week
  • You don’t need to do school from 9-3 everyday
  • You don’t need to do school from Monday to Friday

You can…

  • Fit in school work around your work and family commitments
  • Create a daily rhythm that works for you
  • School on the days that suit you, taking days off mid week if need be
  • Prioritise the subjects that are most important to you and your child

 

Personally, we do a 4 day school week which allows me to work 2 days as well. We tend to have the academic part of our school day – our reading, writing, maths and main lesson – done by lunch time meaning our afternoons are then free for crafts, time outdoors and lots of free play (or if need be a movie so I can catch up on housework or sleep!)

We don’t do maths every day. We don’t yet do a foreign language or music lessons and we plan to skip geography completely next school term, because we can.

We prioritise history and the arts, literature, nature study and PSHE because they are the subjects we love and find most important.

Work with your knowledge and enthusiasm, follow your child’s interests and figure out what your priorities are for learning at home during this time.

So remember, it doesn’t have to look like school, in fact most home educators educate their kids from home because they don’t want it to look like school! That is why here in Britain we tend to prefer the term home educating over homeschooling, because we are not trying to recreate school at home.

 

4. Rhythm is your friend

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

The highly scheduled timetable of school is necessary when you have a huge number of kids to control and coordinate, but at home such a schedule is unnecessary and can take the fun, flexibility and freedom out of learning.

A rhythm on the other hand can be your best friend! A natural ebb and flow to the day where chores follow breakfast, maths follow chores, then a morning walk and lunch, followed by a family read aloud and afternoon of play. The day may start at 9 one day and 10 the next, but the flow is the same.

There is no pressure, no falling behind and flexibility to linger longer over that book you’re all enjoying so much or to skip maths today because you woke up late and need to get outdoors for a walk before the rain hits.

The predictability of a daily rhythm is reassuring to many children, helps you keep your sanity and ensures you get stuff done, but it’s flexible and enjoyable in the process.

So think rhythm over schedule – you can check out our daily homeschool rhythm {HERE} if you need some ideas.

 

5. Learn together

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

One of my greatest privileges as a home educator is that I get to share in the joy of my children’s learning. I get to watch them connect the dots, help them to grasp a new math concept, read to them words of wisdom and learn right along side them.

So Embrace this moment. It may be inconvenient and it may be far from your first choice world at the moment but in the grand scheme of life this time at home learning with your children will be fleeting.

In a matter of weeks or months they will be back at school and during this uncertain and unpredictable time you want to show your kids that when life throws you lemons you can make lemonade!

You want to make this time enjoyable for you all so that in years to come when you look back and think of the school closures of 2020, you’ll remember with fondness that not only did you survive but you thrived!

———-

So those are 5 things that I hope will guide and reassure you over the coming weeks as you navigate learning at home with your children.

Remember to be kind to yourself and to be gentle with your kids. It’s an unsettling time for us all and if we adults are feeling anxious it’s no wonder that our kids may be acting out too. Even my girls who don’t attend school have been unsettled this past week and they don’t face the same extreme changes that school going children are going through.

So keep calm, keep it simple and watch this space. I have a few more posts lined up over the coming weeks for those of you who find yourself thrown into learning at home, which I hope will give you some practical suggestions and usable resources, all of which have been tried and tested by a long term home educator, me!

So tell me, which point above feels most relevant to you at this time?

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