Days can flash by so quickly when you home educate. But some people do wonder how, envisaging long empty hours.
This is rarely the reality; families soon get into the swing of life without school routines and a pattern of learning and living gradually falls into place.
This becomes established through the approach families take to home education. For some it is a natural progression from their time at home with pre-school age children.
For others who’ve returned to home based learning after a period in school, it sometimes takes longer to adjust and develop different understanding of the multitude of ways there are to learn.
Many parents first home educating start out by organising their day in a fairly directed and formal way similar to a school one. Parents direct learning exercises for the children and structure activities with a particular skill or topic in mind, perhaps doing academic exercises on sheets or workbooks, or from the web. After such activities are completed the children are free for play or outdoor activity which they choose themselves. Most families also incorporate visits, outings or social activities into their week too.
Other families educate more autonomously allowing the children freedom to initiate their own activities and using opportunities as they arise to extend and develop their skills and knowledge. So learning is governed as much from the experiences the children are having as from a directed study. (See this post on how children learn autonomously).
Most families use a mixture of these approaches, developing their own style of education, as they become more familiar and confident. And most report that they do so much there is often not enough time to achieve it all because the children become so absorbed in a topic, rather than empty hours not knowing what to do.
A typical day, with 7 – 11 year olds for example, may start with free play, gaming or watching a programme. This may spark off an interest which is then followed up, researched or developed with support from the parent. It might require some skill practice, (maths concept or writing for example), which the parent may guide and before you know it everyone’s joining in. When learning is inspired from the child it can ignite a whole day of relevant activities. Other times parents usually have some ideas from their own research, talking to others, or from the many inspirational websites or blogs. Most families try and get some time out of the house each day whether that’s meeting others, a library or swim trip, park or playground, museum or nature reserve or just a walk or the family shopping. All present opportunities to observe and discuss, furthering knowledge and understanding and essential thinking and language skills.
Many parents begin to see how a tightly structured school-style day is not the only way to learn. Whatever activity children are doing develops them in some way and this requires much less direction than we tend to think. As youngsters mature they can take charge of their own education with guidance, support and encouragement. Through interaction with others and the wider society youngsters see what they need and find ways to achieve it.
The beauty of this independent learning is that youngsters become more independent with their whole approach to life; they develop the skills needed to take initiative, make decisions, seek their own goals and structure their own time to achieve them. All essential skills which create full and busy days; a full and productive life.