At the start of this academic year my daughter starting working on some of her GCSE (well we are actually doing the International GCSE’s) subjects. Now a lot of people had assumed that when we got to Secondary school (year 7 here is the UK) I would put the kids into school and then when that did not happened a whole lot assumed that when it came to writing GCSE’s we would put her into school, but again that did not happen so the latest assumption has been, if we are doing GCSE work with my oldest surely we must have put my youngest in school (he just started his year 7). Sorry to disappoint yet again, but we did not do that. Just to clarify we are still home educating both kids, my oldest would be in her year 10, if she attended school, so we have started working on some of her IGCSE subjects and my youngest would be in Year 7.
The biggest question that everyone has is – how am I managing to home educate both a kid in year 10 and year 7? Honestly not that much has changed.
The kids have always done their Maths separately. They normally do Maths at the same time every morning but the Maths that they do is for their level. They actually sit at the same table and work on their Maths and when one of them needs some help that one comes to me and we go over a concept together. And yes sometimes both kids want my help at the same time, but hey, that is life, sometimes you just need to wait a few minutes until someone can help you.
In the past we always did Science, History and Geography together. We could cover the same topics but the activities that I would get them to do would be slightly different because well they are 3 years apart. This year that has changed a bit. When my daughter is working on her Phsyics, Biology or History she is doing it with just me. But her brother is still in the room. He will be working on some his own academic work or he may just be reading or creating one of his picture. I never ask him to leave. He stays around and yes he listens to what we are discussing and normally watches any documentary or YouTube videos that we watch. I have always had the attitude that I am not going to prevent one of the kids from learning something just because some curriculum says that it should only be learnt in a certain year at a certain age. If he is interested and wants to listen, great, let him, he can join in, but I don’t expect him to do the written work that she does.
What that does mean is even though my son is not working on IGCSE History he now has a good understanding of the Russian Revolution, because he is just always around when his sister and I are working on her history. And the upside is he is able to discuss the events with us. I have also noticed his Physics understanding has improved (again he listens to the sessions).
And likewise there are some learning activities that my youngest does that his older sister joins in with. We recently chose Animal Farm as one of my son’s English Literature books and even though it was not part of my daughter’s required IGCSE work she has joined in and read it with us. It is a fascinating book and it tied in beautifully with her History so it just made sense.
The step up to working on some GCSE subjects with my oldest has been a challenge in some ways, I felt like I needed to refresh my knowledge in a few areas so I have done some extra reading but it does not mean that we needed to change everything about our home education. We do still do most of our work in the same room, there is still some overlap with the kids joining each other because they think what the other one is doing is interesting or one kid may stop what they are working on to watch a documentary. I am fine with that. I have always been okay with the idea that that we don’t need to stick to a school concept of how we learn. We learn in a way that suits us. And yes that may mean that my youngest often listens in to his sister’s sessions and it may mean that she reads a book that he is reading or that she joins in with his Science but for me the main thing is they are learning, even if that learning is not going to be marked in some Exam.
So I guess what I am trying to say is please don’t think because one kiddo is starting to work towards their IGCSE subjects you suddenly need to separate them and change everything about the rhythm of your home learning. Do what suits you and your kids. If they enjoy learning together then there is no reason to completely stop that, possibly make a few tweeks to the way your week looks, but this is your home ed journey, so it is what suits your family. And the beauty of home ed is if we want to change the way we structure our days/ weeks we can.
This picture below is my oldest joining her brother for one of his Science lesson (from Theater of Science) because it was on a interesting topic.