I know there are a number of people who are starting their home education journey at the moment and I have seen lots of posts from people worried about it so here are my thoughts on starting home education.
Stop, Breathe, it is okay.
No scrap that it is more than okay, congrats on starting this.
This is going to be an adventure and I can honestly say deciding to home educate was the best decision we ever made (we are about to start our 9th year of home eductation). But I am going to be brutally honest in this post. There are going to tough days, days when you want to give up. That’s okay. There are also going to be amazing days, days when you sit back and cannot help but marvel at how far the kids have come. Enjoy those days. Try and think of this as a journey and know that the tough times will pass but that we need to go through those tough times to get out on the other side. (And yes we have had tough days).
Some of you may be feeling a lot of pressure – thinking that you are expected to be all set up for the first day of home educating. Here is the thing. You do not need to stick to the local school timetable. I don’t. Never have and never will.
You do not need to have everything sorted out by the time your local school starts again. So take that pressure off yourself. You are not trying to recreate school at home.
My advice is don’t rush out and buy a full year’s worth of books.
Most home educators admit that when they started they bought a bunch of books and then never actually used them (I include myself in that list). I think there is this worry that you need all these books and you need to have everything mapped out beforehand. But most of us did not actually know that much about how it works and did not know which books were going to suit our kids. I learnt through a lot of trial and error and even last year when my daughter started her Year 7 I bought some Secondary books which we actually ended up scrapping in favour of different ones. So rather take a bit of time. Just get one or two to start with and see if you like them, see if they have good explanations, enough practice pages, if answers are included. Just take some time to figure out what is going to work for you.
Remember every kid and every family is unique. So what works for one will not always work for another.
If your kids are in primary school why don’t you ask them if there is a topic that they want to learn about? Go to the local library and find some books on that topic, look for a documentary that deals with it. Maybe look online at some websites and see if they have learning pages linked to it (Pinterest is great for ideas).
We always have a family reading book, a book that I read with the kids, so why don’t you choose something like that, something that you can read with them (my kids loved the How to Train Your Dragon Series).
If you have access to membership sites. Have a look at their Maths section and maybe start with place value. Twinkl have lots of Maths resources that are aimed at each year. Just type in Year x Maths into the search bar and you will get a lot of ideas. If you are a member with Activity Village why don’t you have a look at their Summer Learning Hub pages – there are lots of ideas there.
For primary years I would say, get a good book (well books to read), start with some Maths and find a topic that interests the kids. The joy with topic learning is it can cover so much – if you are looking at African animals you can still do spelling – learn how to spell the animals, you could look at animal plural words, collective nouns, verbs (lots of ways to describe how the animals move). You can bring Maths in – why not look at the measurements of animals, how to convert between different units. You can bring in Geography and Biology. Finding a topic that your kids want to learn about can open all kinds of doors into lots of different subjects.
Okay so what about the older kids – Secondary Years. Everyone gets a bit more worried as they get older. I still say take a bit of time. What is your kids favourite subject? Why don’t you first make sure you have resources for that? Sort that out. Then look at Maths and English and gradually build up from there.
My daughter loves History and English Literature and I can already see that these are two subjects that she will probably take further so when it comes to planning I always start here. I make sure we have those two sorted out first and then I start planning the others.
For KS3 the subjects are a bit different. They do not split it up year by year but rather say these are all the topics that need to be covered in the whole of KS3, which a lot of home educators find a bit challenging. So a suggestion is find a rough plan of how to split it out between the years (and remember it is a plan, it does not mean you have to stick to it but it does help to have a guide).
I like this KS3 Maths map from Twinkl (I downloaded their version and actually used it is create my own slightly altered version). They also have an English version (I have found interesting links on the English one to whole packs of work that I did not even know they had on the site) and a Science one which a lot of you may find helpful.
Remember this is a journey and an adventure. Don’t burn yourself out in the first week. Make sure you get out the house, find somewhere to go for a walk and just see some trees. I consider a pair of Wellies one of the most important home education tools (for adults and kids). Both you and your kids need that break, you need to get out and see some green even when it is a bit wet and windy.