Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Turns out, quite a lot actually.
I’m going to be totally honest with you. My timetable looks nothing like it did when I first started out with my impressive plan at the start of September. But I’ve always said, that’s the beauty of homeschooling. Adapting and moulding the way you teach until you find the perfect ‘fit’.
Most home educators will immediately join up to a Facebook group, check out Instagram pages and carefully follow blogs to see what everyone else is doing. And by doing all of this, you just may become inspired. Perhaps homeschooling is no longer for you? Maybe you’ve decided to unschool instead? Here’s how homeschooling has changed for me:
There’s no more free choice
Ouch! This isn’t as harsh as it sounds actually. When I started my journey, and if you’ve read my timetable post, you will see I introduced a section in our mornings where my boys could do whatever they wanted from a list of activities for a whole hour and a half. This was inspired by the Montessori method and was being blended with S.T.E.M, but I can honestly say, much to my surprise, it didn’t work. My boys have become institutionalised and have lost the creative flair that allows them to make stuff up. I blame mainstream school for this. They just could not get to grips with being able to make their own choices and after about a month of giving it a go, I realised it wasn’t a productive option and out it went. Instead, I give the boys set activities, usually something fun because this part of their day is learning independently (while I work). So far, it’s going well.
2. We’ve Introduced our own half terms
To begin with, I was scheduling our learning to coincide with when schools broke up for half term. But we’ve decided to try out a 4 week on, 1 week off approach. The idea is that smaller snaps of learning with quick breaks in between, will be less pressure on me and make the experience more enjoyable for them. It also means that they won’t have long periods of time off like in the summer holidays, which I just don’t think would work for a homeschooling family.
3. Rewards are out Rules are In
Ok this isn’t exactly true. When we started our homeschooling journey, my boys had to do well during their learning (basically just behave and listen), to earn an iPad passport which would allow them time on their iPads after learning had finished. But over time I realised that this was encouraging their time on their iPads and they weren’t choosing to play with anything else. If I wanted them to re-learn how to be creative, I needed to do something and fast! I also think it’s hugely important to teach children willpower and self-discipline. Having self-discipline will set them up for adulthood.
So we introduced a ban on charging iPads during the day. The boys know that once they take their iPads off charge in the morning, it doesn’t go back on charge until bedtime, therefore they must budget their time wisely. This has been the change we needed. The boys have really got to grips with this and suddenly I find them spending time drawing, making up stories or playing other games. They know they need to budget their time and they know that mom is consistent and I won’t change my mind. This enables them to make positive decisions that will ultimately benefit them in the long run. I think it’s a great life lesson and as we have stood our ground with this rule, the boys know not to moan about it if their iPads die. Rewards now are based solely around our rewards chart. The boys have to get 5 certificates which they can earn by completing a row of stars on their charts, and once they get to five certificates they get a pack of Fortnite cards for their books. Rewards do work! 4. We have never used BBC Bitesize.
Despite planning this in and loading lots of lessons onto the boys accounts, we’ve actually never used BBC Bitesize. We just haven’t needed to. I lesson plan every weekend for the week ahead (teacher’s I feel your pain) and it’s actually harder to fit everything I want to teach them into one week than I thought it would be. There’s so many great resources out there this is just one of them we ended up never needing to use.
5. I’m Still Winging It
The main thing for me so far is that I’m really learning about my boys and what makes them tick. In particular, I’m slowly peeling back the layers on Kaiden and working hard on his positive mindset. This has improved hugely in the last few weeks and that’s mostly down to my approach, becoming more laid back as we’ve stopped the free choice element of our day. You have to remove anything that’s causing you frustration otherwise that frustration is passed on to your children and the whole homeschooling journey can fall apart. I can’t remember the last time I really lost it with my kids, the change has been so positive. When I would check what the boys had done with the free choice hour and a half they had, I would get frustrated that they had done very little, and even more so that they didn’t seem to know what to do. My obvious frustration left them feeling dejected, like they had let me down. By adapting this free choice to include planned activities the boys feel they have more structure and are more confident at doing what is being asked of them. This takes away all of my frustration because now I’m met with two enthusiastic children who exceed my expectations every day. On the whole though, I’m still winging it. I’m still figuring out what I really want them to learn, what’s really important to our family and how I could look at introducing different aspects of teaching into our routine. I love the idea of unschooling but don’t think I could go down that road fully. But this is the exciting part of homeschooling, learning, adapting, enjoying and experiencing.
how has your journey changed since you started? I would love to know! Get in touch via our contacts page!