Syd, founder of Femtinos, shares her reflections on homeschooling during these unprecedented times.
“It’s been really interesting seeing the views of homeschooling change amongst the population since they’ve been forced to all do it. Families who couldn’t imagine having kids at home are loving the opportunity and seeing the benefit of tailor made education on their kid’s progress.
A recent article suggests approx a quarter of parents will continue to Homeschool
their children after the pandemic is over. There’s about 8 million school aged children in the UK – that would mean a whooping 2 million being home schooled! But for most so far, it hasn’t been plain sailing, and they’re still convinced teaching at home isn’t their thing, or wouldn’t be physically possible once work restarts. Many parents are currently furloughed and would have to return to work and thus don’t have a choice to Homeschool.
I’ve worked with the homeschooling community for 10 years now. Over this period working with 12,000 children (not all home schooled). I’ve worked with kids from ages 4 until they went back to school at 11. I’ve worked with teens until they leave for university. I’ve tutored for igcses, supported with lab days, ran Little Speakers
public speaking courses and Femtinos STEAM clubs.
I’ve adapted and changed and devised programmes which suit home schooling journeys. I’ve supported families considering homeschooling and those new and established. And more recently (before covid-19) I started to run a course on “How to Homeschool at Secondary Level” to support families who feel overwhelmed at this age level by collating together all the advice and knowledge I have imparted to parents over the years.
I’m, therefore, able to share a unique stance on homeschooling, not ideas that are just based on my own preferences (many homeschoolers share their own personal journey’s but no two families are identical!). As a result, many families approach me for advice unique to their own circumstances.
Some advice however, can be generic. So, what are my top three bits of golden nuggets for those struggling, those not in a rhythm yet, or those who feel like they’re making progress, but uncertain if they can sustain it?
1) Don’t compare
Yes it’s human nature to want to compare and compete. After all the entire economy is built on the notion of competition. We compete for grades, for jobs, for promotions. One thing I advise many parents to look into is Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. Her research around fixed and growth mindset is telling. Schools (and society in general) creates a fixed mindset mentality where we chase the end result rather than placing full effort into the journey. We’re motivated by the grade we’ll get at the end, not because we love learning for the sake of learning.
Growth mindset has made a big push into training days in schools but it’s difficult to fully implement in an environment built on the foundation of fixed mindset mentality. One of the key areas of establishing a growth mindset, where children see a challenge as something exciting and a learning opportunity, is to get rid of the notion of competition. That starts with the parents. Don’t pit your family against others in a battle of who is able to cover more content, do more activities and achieve better results. Homeschooling is about enjoying the learning, the journey, the process. Forget everyone else. Slow down and enjoy being in the moment with your children.
2) Don’t attempt to replicate school
One of the biggest pitfalls is creating a timetable to attempt to replicate the one that children will be doing in a school environment. Remember, home education is not school at home. It is far more than that and if done well, is a fluid natural transition in learning. Remember learning never stops for children once they come home from school. The difference when kids go to school is that they are tired by the time they reach home. You may have struggled to previously get them to focus on homework – can you blame the child? How many adults could come home from work and be focused on yet more work? We want to relax, kick-back and watch a movie. Kid’s also generally struggle to focus after a long day at school BUT when they’re at home, learning can be tailored, learning can be spontaneous, learning can be cross disciplinary, learning can come in all forms. You’ll find it to be a very different dynamic to the times when you argued with them to sit and do homework but only if you don’t overwhelm then with a similar timetable to school.
Remember in an hour long lesson, there’s probably only 10min of actual learning taking place (I know, I was a qualified teacher in a past life).
An hour of focused time per day is enough. Spend the rest developing skills and interests together, playing games, cooking, working through finances. It’s all learning!
3) Be kind to yourself
In a world where social media is our go to for ideas, advice and guidance, it can get overwhelming to see all the beautifully taken insta pictures of an ideal homeschool set up. Carefully devised activities, with kids looking super engaged in every shot, are enough to get you feeling anxious.
Remember, THAT is not real. Behind every shot there is most likely a screaming parent attempting to not get their set up ruined by their kids before that perfect insta pix is taken.
By all means take ideas and inspiration but understand that social media is a flawless public facade hiding the realities of real life. Be kind to yourself. It’s fine if the kitchen is a mess and doesn’t look like the perfect fb pix you saw in your attempt to make salt dough. It’s fine. Snap a photo for your own memories of what fun looked like on that day.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
If it was, we’d be producing robots, not children with memories filled with laughter, cries, ups and downs, and all of life learnings that come with being an imperfect homeschooling journey.”
Syd, Educational Consultant & founder of Femtinos
If you have found this useful please share with others who will benefit too. Femtinos is providing online courses and tutoring for locked down families during this difficult period at discounted prices. Please contact us contact us
for more info.
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