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Home schooling - you've got this. I promise

This article has been written by Laura Hitchcock, blogger and founder of Little Stuff.

Seven years ago, after much through-the-night conversations and long discussions with the kids, I decided to home educate four of my children, then aged between six and fourteen. I had researched it thoroughly, spoke to many experienced home educators and did everything we could to prepare. How did I feel in the first week without a school run? Frankly overwhelmed and terrified.

In a social media stream filled with ‘how to teach your kids at home’, ‘here’s the top tips’, ‘here’s the best schedule’, ‘here’s how to Do It Right’, remember that even experienced, highly-qualified teachers have never actually taught at home for long periods. My message to everyone this week? Slow down. Home schooling is actually very rarely about the lessons, subjects and topic work to complete. You can do it in any way you please. You can start at 10am if you like. You can educate by playing Animal Crossing & Minecraft, watching films, building LEGO or baking. There’s no timetable (I promise, there really isn’t), so if they want to spend four hours painting – great! Do it!

The thing to remember is that all families do it differently – there’s no right or wrong way. It’s not a competition. The really important thing here is to work out what is right for you.

Some kids thrive on structured timetables, and love to sit with a workbook. For others, this is their actual picture of hell; and both are okay. Don’t feel guilty that your version of home schooling doesn’t look like that one on Facebook or Instagram with the parent with the colour coded chart and a week’s worth of activities lined up. Their kids might well be loving it – or they might be resentful, squirming and bored. You’ll never know. Don’t fight the tide – be flexible, set aside all your own notions of how it ‘should‘ be, and go with what actually works for you and your kids.

Also – stop thinking you need a full 9-3 school day of activities. One-to-one study time is far more intense and productive than a class of 30 settling down to a task. On average, two and a half hours of solo study is the equivalent learning of a full day in school. If you’ve had a settled and productive morning, job done for the day! Don’t push it, ease up the pressure and you’ll both have way more fun. Because I promise you – it really is fun.

It’s ok not to cover everything every day. It’s okay to take the day off. Just think about the way you learn as an adult – do you decide that in order to learn something you need a classroom and a teacher? No. You will read articles, watch videos, look for answers to your questions online – you learn organically by following your own curiosity. Children learn the same way!

A couple of things, done with purpose and interest, are far more beneficial in the long run. And remember that while we all love a little structure, micro-managing every hour isn’t good for them OR you! Longer projects with art equipment or story writing will also leave you free to turn to your own jobs and work.

If you don’t know any of the things you want to teach – don’t panic, just learn them too! Kids don’t need to think you’re all-knowing. They love it when you say “I have no idea, let’s find out!” and you discover the subject together. This is an amazing opportunity to step outside the necessary timetable boundaries of their normal education and enjoy some self-directed deep learning. Honestly – go enjoy it! If it’s not working today, make some cookies (science and maths, remember), build a fort (definitely physics), or cuddle up and watch a movie - possibly educational, but actually just comforting and secure and therefore probably the most important part of your day right now.