This time last year, we made a rather monumental, and life-changing parenting choice. We didn’t share with many people, initially, because we wanted to try and work out how our plan would look, and if it was working then we could share and if it didn’t work, we could go back to what we knew with minimal fuss. We opted to pull our son, aged eight and half at the time, from school, and homeschool him.
We have had a lot of questions, about the why, you can read about that here and also the how.
For us, homeschooling has meant a huge lifestyle change. We both work, but I work less hours and am more or less my own boss so it makes sense for me to take on the majority of the responsibility for homeschooling with support and help from the husband.
Because he was in school, we have the advantage that a lot of the groundwork has been done for us. He can read, write, and academically is very bright and he enjoys learning (when it’s an area that he’s interested in, but he is very capable in all areas) so for me it has just been a case of pretty much picking up from where he left off at the end of Year 3 when we removed him from school.
When people ask us how we manage, when they realize that I am not a full time at home non-working parent, it can be hard to explain. Most of the homeschoolers I have met are either not working, or split homeschooling with a partner alongside work.
We do, however, make it work.
Our week looks a little bit like this, with some flexibility thrown in. We do not unschool, partly because we both need routine, and structure, and it wouldn’t work for us and his personality. We do have a routine, and I plan weekly and monthly what I want to get done with him and core subjects like maths, literacy, science, history, geography, RE, etc.
Legally I do not currently HAVE to teach him any subjects or curriculum, or have him assessed to show what we are achieving. However we have been seen and talked with the local homeschool officer who works within our borough and she was happy with what we were teaching, and his activities, and the input he was getting.
Monday – I don’t work. He and I have a full morning at home, where we do curriculum subjects, and we cover a lot in, working together. He is able to work alongside me, if I want to write a bit, or read emails, but mostly I focus on him and helping him with anything he is struggling with. Then the magic of outsourcing begins. I am a firm believer in using the skills of others and accessing those for my son. He attends an art and cooking class which whilst providing learning skills also is social time with other children of his own age.
Tuesday – I work for three hours in the morning. He comes with me, and he either does some independent work or spends time with a friend then he and I spent a couple of hours working on core or curriculum subjects then he has choir time with a homeschool choir local to us. He also has Cubs which again is socialization with his peers as well as learning new skills.
Wednesday – I work for three hours then we spend some time doing project work or we do things locally like a book club we are part of. He also attends a ballet class.
Thursday – He is at home with his Dad, and I leave work that he can do, and then he either goes to spend time at our childminder or has a playdate with a friend. He also attends a gymnastics class.
Friday – he and I work together, and then Friday afternoon is free time for either swimming or fun activities.
Saturday – he attends a ballet class then we switch off for the weekend. We have time with friends, playdates, we might go to a museum, or out somewhere or relax at home. We try and make sure he gets in fresh air and exercise, usually with his Dad, to give me a break too.
The reality of the academic work timings is that most of what we need to get done to keep up can be done in 2-3 hours in a day give or take. Sometimes it’s less and if we get things done faster we have time for fun. We also have extracurricular activities like swimming, violin lessons, and occasional homeschool educational events to add to the mix.
Resources we use:
We are sticking to the UK National Curriculum, partly because it’s easier for me to work on a system he already knows, but also because we do plan at some point for him to be back into the school system, and we want to keep him within the system they use. There are bits of the curriculum we are not using, we are not working towards SATS so we are not pushing hard for him to do the tests and targets needed for that. (That is a whole other rant, for another day about SATS)
I prepare some work for him, using various resources and sites, and I also use texts and books that he would use in school or that are part of the National Curriculum.
It works for us. It does involve a fair bit of juggling, but so far, we have managed. It isn’t perfect and there are some days when I don’t think we have got enough done, and other days when I feel super smug that we have covered it all and it’s been smooth and easy. Like most parenting, it’s a massive learning curve that we figure out as we go.
We aren’t sure yet what his school life future will be. Will he start secondary school with his peers in 2021? Will he stay home with me and focus on dance and drama and go to a school for that, when he is 12 or 13? We don’t know. We expect to make some decisions on that in next year. Time will tell. Given that I hadn’t planned to homeschool, and now I am, I am taking things as they come.
So that, in a nutshell, of just over 1000 words, is the how. Next time, I will cover some thoughts on how we have gone from being a family with kids in school, to me being responsible for my son’s education, and how I manage that for me.