(from a home-schooling parent)
Since the time I started my own home-schooling journey in April 2019, there were only a few million children electing to home educate worldwide. At the end of March 2020, estimates are that there are over 1 billion children being schooled at home due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. In that first year I went through a steep personal learning curve and had very little guidance, so it seems appropriate to share some of the insights gained with other parents who have been thrust into this same situation. While we’re living in a challenging time in so many ways, hopefully these tips can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that comes from expectations and turn the home-schooling experience into a positive one for both parents and children.
When first starting out with home schooling, the most important skills any parent really needs is to stay open to changing one’s mind about how learning happens and adopt new strategies when appropriate. Home-schooling really is a ‘trial and error’ experience that enables a parent to tailor learning to the uniqueness of each child. It doesn’t have to be 3–6 hours per day of instruction or conducted while sitting at a desk. Learning happens in so many different ways, and the ‘how’ is the flexible part.
I found the experience of being a home educator actually became enjoyable at the point when it suddenly felt like we were all exploring and learning together on an educational journey.
The following 8 Lessons on Learning outline some of the most significant preconception-changing insights I’ve had from this immersive experience:
#1 Don’t over-egg material: Children can learn quickly, and too much covering the same information over & over can lead to boredom in no time. Better to make sure they have learned a particular skill or concept, then briefly return to it again in a few days or weeks. Or even better, just keep informally testing that skill set or concept in everyday life when a good example arises.
#2 Give more challenging materials than their actual age-level: Children learn in different stages and capacities. Often they find the material too easy, and switch off out of sheer boredom. A good indicator of their ability to stretch beyond their years is if they already have an interest…