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In the first of a new regular column recounting personal experience, handy tips and support, experienced home educator and Lochaber Times contributor, Nic Goddard, gives parents facing months of having their children at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some helpful pointers.
My son, aged 19, and daughter, 17, have never been to school.
They have been home educated all their lives. For the first decade we lived in a busy seaside town, an hour’s train ride from London with access to museums, art galleries and theatres. We spent a year travelling the UK living in a camper van and volunteering on farms, and then spent seven years on a remote Hebridean island living off grid on a croft.
Our home education adventures have taken place in all manner of weird and wonderful locations, with and without access to modern technology.
Neither my husband or I are teachers or have ever been to university. Our children did not do any formal study or follow a curriculum. They are now successful young adults, who continue to learn something new every day.
Our son is part way through a degree with the Open University, has a small business and does voluntary work. Our daughter is also self employed,
is a prize-winning baker and an active volunteer on various projects.
Overnight almost every parent of a school-aged child in the UK has found themselves overseeing their child’s education from home as schools close due to the COVID-19 crisis.
While councils will be providing guidance on what academic work children should be doing from home, this could be a daunting time for parents – on top of all the other uncertainty to be feeling the weight of responsibility for education too. My first message to you is DON’T PANIC!
We are all learning, all the time. Every single one of us is in possession of a whole new understanding of new words just this week. OK, they are all virus and pandemic-related but that reassures us that our brains never stop soaking up new information, learning new things, grasping concepts which previously felt beyond us.
We will all have been doing research this week too – using the available resources to satisfy our need for knowledge and information.
Children’s brains are even better at learning new things than adults. A break of weeks away from school will not harm their ability to learn and may well offer an opportunity to learn new things in new ways.
So how will home-based learning for you and your child look? Will you replicate school at home or have a more relaxed approach?
Depending on your family routine you may need to have set times for learning. If you are working from home yourself and need to keep regular working hours or if there are specific times for your child to be online attending virtual lessons then build your day around this.
If the upheaval of not having a structure to your day will be hard for you or
your child then stick to a timetable.
If on the other hand you are able to be more relaxed with your day then do so – one of the great joys of home education for us was being able to enjoy flexibility around when we chose to do things.
If your school holidays are usually filled with enjoying not knowing what day of the week it is and using how dark it is outside to decide whether it’s bedtime or not and you are able to do that now, then celebrate it and do school work at the time of day that best suits you.
Talk to your child and make a plan together about how your day will look. Be sure to factor in breaks, exercise and time to talk about what they are learning and any spin-off questions about it.
NO F30 Nic Goddard byline pic