When my eldest son was three, I was told by the local Education Authority that I would have to either move or home-educate as they were not going to help with his education if we stayed farming our island home. As so many families have been thrown in to home educating during the pandemic I wanted to pass on some tips that I have learnt along the way.
Sometimes we all used to feel that we neede to escape from the home education routine, and I would plan different activites to break up the teaching day.
When the children were younger I was concerned that they had no idea about money as we rarely went to the shops, and when we did we usually paid with cheques. We did not give them weekly pocket money but instead each boy owned a ewe. They sold the lambs to us and the money went into their Auskerry bank account. To solve the problem of working with cash I opened a sweet shop. I bought funsize packs of mars bars etc and then priced them at a few pence each. They took turns to be the shopkeeper and shopper and work out the change without a calculator. This worked fine until their cousins came to stay. Worldly-wise, the cousins quickly worked out that the stock of chocolate was extremely cheap and so they asked their unsuspecting father for his loose change and proceeded to empty the shop. The boys were pretty upset by this as they saw the shop stock disappear, and I had to deal with the issue of stockpiling!
On sunny days when it was almost impossible to keep the boys concentrating I would plan an activity outside. Rory was not keen on French, and has a very limited vocabulary as a result, but he will happily tell you to ‘Tournez a droite” if you happen to be driving with him in France as he has never forgotten the lesson when I laid out a course in the garden. I barked instructions at them and they had to follow them correctly to reach the goal. Part of the effectiveness of this plan was that each instruction was repeated so often it imprinted the french into the brain without his noticing and resisting!
The best distraction of all was to plan a big event. We used to have a sports day which did not involve ‘normal’ sports. We had a swing and one sport was our version of welly-wanging’. The idea was to swing as high as you could then loose off your welly at the optimum point to get it to travel as far as possible. It was essential to work your wellington boot off far enough that it would leave your foot easily but not before you wanted it to. It was a good leveller and caused a lot of laughter , but there was some measuring and problem solving skills involved in there too. There are endless possibilities for silly games and by varying them everyone could win something.
Planning an event might require providing and serving refreshments; compering the event; even making a speech. It may be based around a family birthday or anniversary of some famous event; it may be because it is a bank holiday or to celebrate the acquisition of a new skill; it’s the fun of planning and experiencing the event that matters.
Building high structures that don’t fall over; reciting a poem in the voice of your favourite cartoon character; singing new words for a favourite song or setting a quiz to test mental maths. Let everyone devise a fun thing to do and then organise it.
In corporate speak it is a way to build your family brand and bond the team members together, and should send you back to the classroom with renewed vigour!
Home educating survival Guide Part 10