A very simple guide to home education for an adapted way of living.
This is an outline of how I do Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) at home. I began last Autumn and it’s an evolving process for parent and child alike. I wrote a plan, which I adapt every few months as we move through the topics. I chose to use the UK National Curriculum as a guide (though private schools and home educators are not legally obliged to do so). My youngest is dyslexic, so I tailor the work to support them. We work at greater depth and cover many of the topics their friends do at school.
I have bought some useful books (CGP & Letts workbooks are great if supported with textbooks and fiction/non-fiction. The DK “Help Your Kids With…” range for KS3-4 are also excellent). For now, make use of what’s on your shelves. There are many sites offering free access at this time, as well as what teachers will have set students. BBC Bitesize is a fantastic resource.
The day is book-ended with creative/practical activities, around 2 sessions of study with a lunch break in between. We move dependent on weather, so activities are outside in the morning if the day is fine, indoors if not. Home education is more organic, which makes it ideal for times such as these. We average four hours a day of study, though are currently doing 2 (with more activities); to allow for concentration being impacted. We’re making small changes to our home life as a way to reduce stress (with meditation, movie nights, exercise and more sleep). It’s the routine that matters – maintaining consistency and retention over time.
With parents working extra hours during the crisis, working from home or dealing with self-isolating member(s), the important thing is to encourage some – rather than none – and take breaks. Many of the children will have been sent home with work. Others have been told they will no longer be sitting exams. A set start time is good. Alternate between assisting them directly then remaining near, while doing work of your own, so they can independently study (in shorter bursts if they’re young). Students that no longer have revision, can share the workspace to do hobbies, complete coursework or learn new skills. This way, everyone has a portion of the day that is productive and purposeful.
Here is a brief look at our week:
DAILY: Maths, English (spelling/grammar, reading, textbook) and exercise.
WEEKLY: Art, Geography, History, IT, PSHE / RE and Science (across the week – Geography and Science are repeated). 4 subjects per day is our sweet spot.
Films with strong social themes or a topic they enjoy are great conversation-starters. These can lead into writing formal reviews or fictional diary entries (what they would do in the situation of the character etc). Music artists in all genres ranging from previous centuries to current, are an ideal container for expressive work – using the music for dance, singalongs or inspiring artwork and stories.
Chores build resilience, routine and life skills and help mark the days. Keep to a few across a week (especially if no chore routine existed previously). Activities can be doubled up to save time – have them help prepare dinner or lay the table, while listening to a podcast. Draw pictures to photograph and share with family. Documentaries or language apps can play while doing crafts. Jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, online or DVD classes are great daily movement (especially when boredom hits hard).
Resources… simply use what you have. Go through magazines and newspapers for articles where the material is age appropriate. Use puzzle books, cards, board games, jigsaws. Drop vinegar or food dye in oil or water and see what happens. Dig out the A to Z from the car or a world atlas and explore where family live or which countries have the most rivers. Make spelling quizzes with words taken from comics or paperbacks. Download free language apps or create a landmark out of Lego / Play-Doh. Recite favourite scenes, comedy sketches, lyrics or poetry. Have a dance-off or a pun-off. Gather toiletries for a “home spa” or leftover paint to finish decorating part of a room.
Write memories with drawings and photos, from previous holidays. Re-purpose cardboard/paper recycling into bunting, paper chains or rocket ships. Garden. Collage. Gather stationery in a tub for writing puns, letters or doodling. Use online websites offering free access. BBC Bitesize is a great resource for the UK national curriculum. There are many wonderful blogs geared towards home education and vlogs for inspiration or skill-based learning. Video call family/friends to share their work (in place of reward assemblies / show and tell). Above all, know when to call it a day, pack it away and relax together 🙂