Parents often ask what you need to manage home education successfully. Do you need to be a teacher? Do you need to know everything? Do you need to have a dedicated room, do tests, follow schemes of work and be highly skilled in all subjects?
Not necessarily. But one thing you do need is good management.
Management already plays a huge part in a well functioning family life. Home schooling demands a similar kind of management and forethought. It’s just that you have to be open minded about managing education perhaps differently to the familiar school approach.
Some of the things you have to manage are:
– Relationships. Managing relationships is part of family life, part of education. We’ve probably experienced both good and bad from our own school days, or families! Good relationships help us function well. As a home educating parent you need the same relationships skills as any good parent or teacher; respect, communication, understanding, tolerance, intuition, empathy to others’ needs. With these skills you can home educate as well as anyone.
– Time. Learning takes place all the time the kids are doing – whatever they’re doing. Sometimes this is directed. Sometimes incidental. But real learning does not need time constraints like in school. For example, kids learn something at home in a quarter of the time it would take in a distracting classroom situation. This leaves lots of time for other pursuits from which children also learn. Equally they can take longer with a topic, or learn anything at any age. They can learn early morning or late at night whichever suits and for some teenagers whose body clock is all awry this can be a huge advantage. Learning doesn’t need the time constrained approach familiar through schooling. When home educating you can manage time to suit your family.
– Content and approach. Unless you’re studying a particular course, towards a specific outcome which you don’t really need to do until the children are a lot older, the content of your learning can be varied and stimulating, child led rather than prescriptive. Contrast in content and approach keeps motivation going. Create contrast through a balance of activities that are studious or creative, sedentary or active, academic or practical, intense or relaxed, at home or out. Managing this helps keep learning fresh and stimulating, keeps the children motivated.
– Outdoor activity and learning out of the home. Getting out is hugely beneficial. It’s more inspiring, raises spirits, dilutes intensity, works off emotions and helps keep the body and mind functioning well. Whether it’s a swimming or library trip, a walk or the shopping, field trips or workshops, socialisation or exercise, the park or the town centre. Learning can be managed out of the home as much as in it. All physical activity enhances mental activity.
– Independence. Whatever age, children need opportunities to choose and to be left alone at times. Choosing their own activities helps builds independence and confidence. Children’s schooling is so tightly managed the skills they need to think for themselves and become independent are neglected. It can also make them switch off to learning. Home schooling gives you plenty of opportunity to turn that around. Managing independent time and decisions are good life-skills.
Managing these elements of home educating help it run smoothly, remembering that children learn from living as much as they learn from any curriculum or schedule.
If they live life, see and experience life, they are inquisitive about life. When they are inquisitive about life they want to learn the skills needed to engage with it. Thus learning becomes a self perpetuating lifestyle rather than a separate part of life to be ended as soon as possible – as some children see their school days.
Home schooling gives you the chance to manage that differently.