Let me start by saying I get the need for a timetable it is reassuring to know what is happening when and to figure out how you are going to fit everything in especially when things around us seem more chaotic than normal. I get that. I do.
But I want to suggest to people who are being thrown into this “homeschooling” for the first time to ease up on the timetable and rather try a routine approach. The difference may seem small to some but please trust me there is a difference. A timetable is rigid, it is saying between this set time period you need to do x and then when the clock chimes you need to move onto y. It is more school than home.
A routine is more loose than a timetable, it says we are going to try and get some Maths, and English done this morning but if you need to take a bit longer at breakfast and chat to us about what is bothering you we can do that. We can sit and chat for as long as needed until we all feel better. There is no rush to start doing “homeschool” at a certain time or have it finished by a certain time.
We follow a semi-structured approach for our home education. Which for us (it is different for every family) means we do Maths and English every morning. After that we often have an activity (right now we try and get out for walk when we can) and then we do project work / topics for other subjects. There is a loose routine but we are flexible.
This past week when my nine year old was sitting down to do some maths he brought his maths book to the couch and came and chatted with me (we have a couch right next to their desks). We ended up have a long chat and cuddle, he needed it, he had lots of concerns about all the changes going on. After the chat and cuddle we had a snack and then went for a long walk in the woods to one of his favourite spots. It was only after lunch time that he sat down and did his Maths. And by then he was happy to sit and do his Maths and he did it quickly and easily, his mind was at rest and he could concentrate.
The same goes for us adults, the ones doing the “homeschooling” if something has happened that has stressed you out, trying to sit down and complete that Maths session is not going to work. Last time I tried to go shopping, I came home stressed, I only got a few things on my list, I was stressing. Now for me to sit down and try to explain / help with Maths would not have been a good thing. I would have been impatient with the kids. Even though it was morning time and our normal Maths time we swopped it around. The kids and I watched a History documentary and then we all baked and had some banana bread for lunch. Later that afternoon when I was not feeling so stressed about my failed shopping trip we sat and went through the Maths. And I was better at explaining and helping because I was feeling better.
I understand why people want a timetable but please bend it, let it be flexible and more like a routine. Take time out when your kids need a chat or a break and please give yourself a break when you need it. I promise, trying to help with maths when you are stressed is not a good thing. I have done that in the past and it ever ends well. Bend that timetable to go with the rhythms of the family and what everyone needs that day.
This is home, so Maths can happen with cuddles, fractions can get taught with baking, curling up on the couch reading counts, play some board games, talk about things. Please, please bend those timetables and give your kids and yourself time to deal with whatever is stressing you out.