Top Ten Home School Ideas to Make Your Life Easier
Top Ten Home School Ideas to Make Your Life Easier10th February 2021
With national school closures and a country that finds itself in the midst of another strict lockdown, families have found themselves, yet again, staying at home. If you’re a parent already working from home, the prospect of juggling home schooling on top of your job can be overwhelming to say the least. We’ve put together our top ten home school ideas to make your life easier, helping you to juggle the role of parent and teacher and retain your sanity.
Establish a routine
In such unpredictable times, it is important to re-establish some sort of normality in your child’s life. Without mimicking the hourly school bells, a small bit of structure can go a long way in creating comfort and consistency within the whole family.
Make an agenda for each day visual by creating a personalised schedule. It’s a great way to divide up your child’s day, minimise boredom and break up subjects across the week to remind them of what they need to do. Planning your own day around their schedule can be useful too as you can cleverly factor in a few periods of (relative) peace, if you need to work, cook or nap – the choice is yours.
Work as a team
The more children you have does not necessarily have to equate to more stress; in fact the complete opposite can be true. Many subjects such as history or science are ideal for being taught to groups spanning different year groups and often make school work at home more enjoyable.
Or better still, shift the workload from yourself by enlisting the valuable help of older siblings to teach the younger ones. Considered to be one of the most effective methods of revision, teaching someone else will require your child to develop a high level of understanding. This will benefit the older sibling no end, cementing their knowledge while taking the place of teacher for a while. It’s a win for all the children and an ultimate win for the parent.
Depending on the willingness of your eldest, a top tip is to incentivise (in other words, ‘bribe’!) your eldest to take on this role every now and again, it’s worth a shot at the very least!
Make the most of watching Films and Documentaries
While you may struggle to find an ounce of educational value in The Angry Birds 2 movie, many films from the 80s and 90s are still appropriate, containing more grownup and insightful themes. You can find a variety of smart and suitable film choices that children can find entertaining and thought provoking. Nothing can enhance your family evenings like swerving the usual, mind numbing, cartoons and opting for a classic like Forest Gump, filled with history and politics which passes as a relaxed teaching style.
As for documentaries, they are self-explanatory in their educational value and benefit. Have your children learn from the very best in the field, by recruiting David Attenborough for environmental studies and Professor Brian Cox for lessons in science and physics.
Use the internet
This is an important one when it comes to home school ideas! Incorporate a more modern-day teaching style by making the most of the online tools on offer. Be sure to utilise these when you need a break or for some added variety.
Many schools are now fully set up with remote learning platforms such as Google Classrooms or Seesaw where you can submit pieces of work with ease online. Even if your child’s school does not do this yet, why not set up a google drive and have your child do work online and email it to their teacher? It is much easier to keep track and saves you the hassle of printing endless PDFs, scanning, and uploading which is a full-time job in itself. You’ll likely find that teachers will appreciate being able to mark and send assignments back online.
YouTube and BBC Bitesize will soon become your most visited websites. Without fail, there is always a video, activity or quiz to explain any topic that falls under the education curriculum. Many parents will have no idea what a fronted adverbial or number chunking is, don't be ashamed to admit you have not the faintest idea. Save yourself the muddle and confusion by watching bite sized videos before explaining it to your child.
‘Redecorate’ your house
Setting the scene is a good starting point. Stock up on stationery and art supplies, minimise distractions like their favourite toys and have a compelling selection of books within reach. You can transform the décor in your house into visual learning posters. In Victoria’s house they had a ‘Kings and Queens of England’ timeline and labelled skeleton poster on display. It may not be the sleek, minimal interior you have envisaged on your Pinterest board, but it’ll help reinforce learning at home without too much effort! There’s always the hope that the information will magically transmit to their brains somehow, however, we unfortunately cannot guarantee this will work.
Being unconfined to a specific classroom comes with its benefits. If the kids are getting agitated, shift the learning to another section of the house or why not take it outside if it’s a nice day, getting some fresh air whilst you’re at it! A change of scenery can not only help your child’s motivation but your own too.
Multitask - in the right way
Efficiency is key! Dealing with tasks simultaneously can be ideal for effectively managing your time. Depending on the age of your child, different amounts of attention will be required. More often than not, housework and home schooling can be bundled together for example; have your little one read to you while folding the washing. Dictate spellings while cleaning the kitchen. Practice quick fire times tables while unloading the dishwasher. Embracing this relaxed teaching style is totally fine and practical, especially if you are struggling to find enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Everyday is a school day
Cooking and baking are not only enjoyable activities but can be adapted to teach a wide variety of subjects. Following instructions, measuring and calculating conversions are useful logistical and mathematical skills with the added rewarding benefit of a delicious meal or cake.
The food shop is a weekly necessity, so why not get into the routine of having the children write down the shopping list for you. Showing them how to plan ahead and choose nutritious foods for a balanced diet. Hopefully the handwriting is legible enough to be used in Tesco’s.
Teach them the benefits of physical exercise by going on walks and stretching their muscles. Family outings are a source of great enjoyment and the fresh air will improve everyone’s well-being.
Appreciate that life lessons are just as useful as academic studies, which are often neglected at school. There are some things kids simply need to know that will not be covered by the curriculum. Become attuned to learning opportunities that arise in daily life like budgeting, self-care, time management, online safety, laws; the list goes on. Take advantage of these situations when they arise to educate your child on important life skills, in doing so you will enlighten them more spontaneously and naturally which will feel like less of a chore.
Don’t try to recreate school
Undertaking school work at home will be a very different atmosphere to the school environment, don’t feel pressure to re-create it. Remember that you are not a fully trained teacher and do not need to act like one when it comes to your own children. You can set your own rules and do things in your own way, and any progress you make should be celebrated. You’ll have to improvise, be flexible and anticipate tears and tantrums (not just from the children). We’re in the middle of a pandemic so make sure to have some perspective and know that in the grand scheme of your child’s education a missed assignment or incomplete quiz will not matter too much. Especially if you work on top of home schooling, remember that your boss or clients will often be sympathetic or even in the same position as you so go easy on yourself.
Children can make your life easier...?
Yes, it can be done. Ask your children to help with the chores: doing the recycling, hanging out washing, loading the dishwasher. Not only will this break up the monotony of lessons but it will also ease some of the mounting chores from fatigued parents. In comparison, house hold chores may make home schooling look far more appealing, I wouldn’t be surprised if the children take to your other home school ideas with more enthusiasm than before.
Manage the interruptions
We hope the situation we find ourselves in won’t last too much longer before normality can be restored. However, it’s a good idea to think of some long-term solutions to make your life easier. Despite what you may envisage to be super supportive, spoon feeding your child and pandering to their every need is not always the best idea.
Help them find ways to help themselves instead of relying on you for everything. Teach them how to sharpen their pencil, where the tissues are or the location of the fruit bowl for a healthy snack. Their increased independency may take some time to cultivate but will in turn minimise interruptions to your day - particularly useful for home workers. As for the older ones, trial an ‘ask me later list’ when they’re completing a piece of school work. Then when you are free, you can go through and explain to them what they may have struggled on. This is a great technique of teaching your children some independency and supporting them when you can.
At the end of the day, we’re all surviving a pandemic so no-one expects you to be on top form all the time just as you wouldn’t expect that of your children. Make sure to celebrate the successful home schooling days without losing all faith on the bad ones while implementing some of these home school ideas. If you can make it through the day without any tears having made some progress then you’re winning.