“May you live in interesting times.” I was always told this was a Chinese curse, and whether that’s true or not, it’s certainly popped into my mind a lot recently. As a home educator I’ve had so many people over the last couple of months comment on how lucky we are that we’re ‘already used to this’ – this being home education during the time of Covid-19, and the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. As home educators, we are not used to ‘this’.
For a start, we’re not used to being at home all day every day. We are social creatures, and even if our days just involve going to group activities or hanging out with friends, we see other people all the time. We’re also outdoors a lot, whether through forest school or simply meeting up with our friends, having a play in the park, or going to our various clubs and groups – indoors, at home, isn’t ‘normal’ for us, nor is the additional screen time the kids have these days!
I have particularly noticed how the children have reacted to this new – hopefully temporary – way of life in much the same way we as adults have. They also go through the bouts of lethargy, frustration, lack of desire to do anything, countered by the bursts of creative energy, loving time to play together and spend more time at home. Just like us, they’ve had to deal with the upending of their worlds, and they are going through the same emotional challenges. Study.com have this great article on the effects of the Corona virus school closures on adults and children, “Open discussion about emotional issues can help children three-fold by giving them the social interaction they lack during school closures, helping them feel understood, and allowing them to process their emotions.” It’s a hard time for many people, but it’s also a great opportunity to instil resilience, and practice mindful emotions!
While we’ve also been quite okay with having days and even weeks with no formal education taking place, it’s not something that we felt could go on indefinitely, so creating routines, and being disciplined about it has proven really useful. For us that means half an hour of maths directly after breakfast, and some other learning activity during the day. We chose the topics of weather and space to learn about during this time, and even if we’ve just done one experiment or activity each day (most days – sometimes we stay outside as much as possible!) it’s been building towards ticking off those ‘lessons’.
Another thing we’ve found useful has been varying things up. When we’re learning on a topic we do some book work, but we try to read about the person or thing, and I’ll see what I can find in our area that may – even loosely – tie in with what we’re learning about. At the moment we can’t visit the planetarium for our space topic, but we’ve been able to go out wrapped in blankets in the middle of the night and look at the super moon or use an app to find constellations. We’ve been able to watch NASA videos on youtube and the NASA website. We’ve been able to do space and weather themed projects and hands-on work. Learning isn’t a static thing – and neither of my children learn well from worksheets or workbooks or writing exercises. They need to be constantly moving and doing so this time has really reminded us of the benefits of using different learning strategies to make the most of our Covid-related enforced home learning time.
While we can’t wait for it to be over, this time has really reinforced for us the beauty of home education, and we are excited for getting back to our life of not actually being at home all that much!