Now, let’s just get one thing straight from the beginning. I am no expert by any means. For those who have been following me would know that I did a year of homeschooling with my 2 boys last year. I do not have years of homeschooling tips and tricks, but as I have just gone through a year of this I am happy to share some tips for those who would like it.
Homeschooling was not easy for me, and I take my hats off to the mom’s out there doing this on a regular basis with multiple children.
For me, the biggest challenge was the fact that my boys were on different levels. When we started the year my youngest could not read, but my eldest could. The problem was, that even though my eldest could read I would still have to sit and explain things to him. So the age gap and the reading levels played a big role in us struggling for quite some time.
Besides the schooling aspect of our current situation is the fact that everyone is now in one space together, more pressure is placed on us as mothers. For me, the house and feeding the troops every day played another role in why my homeschooling year was not a pleasant one. If I can give you ONE tip during this time, it is to get everyone involved. Cleaning the house, cooking, tidying up, it is NOT JUST YOUR JOB as the woman/mother in the house. The kids need to help. The husbands, whether they are out working or stuck at home, EVERYONE needs to pitch in.
Getting the whole family involved in maintaining the house ticks many boxes. It teaches them they are part of a team and need to do their part, they get some exercise and they will start to appreciate what mom has to do on a daily basis for them. Involve them in helping with meal prep.
While on the subject of meals. Try and make big meals for dinner, which can then be eaten as lunch the next day. Or even better make big batches of meals that can be frozen and kept for a later in the week. This way you are not spending the majority of time in your kitchen, cooking, and cleaning. For me, as someone who is not a fan of cooking, this is a life saver.
Something I would suggest to schedule in is alone time. Make time for everyone to spend some time alone, because let’s face it, the whole family stuck at home the whole time is bound to end it emotions boiling over and fights breaking out.
I think with everything happening, we need to all just breathe a bit and realise it is holiday time. Allow yourself to just relax for a bit, slow down and take this time to spend QUALITY time with your family. Play, talk, colour, watch a movie, play some board games. Connect with your kids, don’t worry too much about school work. They also need a break.
Some schools have sent “homework” for the holidays, some have not. I do not think we need to do school work every day. I do not think you need to spend money and set up a “classroom” in your home. Obviously, if our time at home gets extended, which I do think will happen, this will change and we will have to start doing some work. But for now, I think we need to just take it easy.
Do not put too much stress on yourself with regards to school work.
If your school has not given you tips or work to keep your kids busy and you want to do some work, there are numerous sites that are offering free resources during this period. But if all you do is read every day, that is also fine. For both my kid’s handwriting is something we need to work on. Self Isolation or not, we would have worked on handwriting this holiday.
Many people have made a schedule of what they will do every day, down to the very min. I have not done this, simply because I would like my kids to have a holiday and just play. When they become bored or start bickering with each other, that is when I will step in, and we will do something together, whether it is something creative or some school-related work.
What we plan on doing:
Read books together
Draw and colour
Make and play with hand puppets
Draw on sidewalks or walks with chalk
Play board games
Make up our own board games
Do some simple, fun experiments at home
I will be posting what we do every day, in case anyone is looking for ideas of things to do. I will also post another blog about some of the simple activities we did last year that are both fun and educational.
One of the sites I used last year was www.twinkl.co.uk I subscribed to their premium plan last year, but they do have free downloads as well, I absolutely love their resources. Twinkl is currently offering a month free, so do go and check out their website.
Vodacom is offering free downloads, which are basically the Government issued books the kids get at school. These can also be downloaded at https://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/LearningandTeachingSupportMaterials(LTSM)/Workbooks.aspx
There is E-Classroom, which you need to pay R65 for a year’s subscription, but they also have a bunch of resources based on the CAPS curriculum.
Another site I used a lot was k-5learning
If you are looking for fun, educational Apps, I really love Khan Academy kids.
There are also website like NASA Kids, Nat Geo Kids, The Smithsonian Museum and many others offering amazing free resources and online videos and tours the kids can watch.
Once again, just take it day by day, do not put too much pressure on yourself to be an amazing teacher. You can teach your child so much, just by reading together and talking. We talk about all kinds of things.
Get an atlas out and chat about all the different countries and cultures in the world.
These are uncertain and scary times and we are all just trying to cope as best we can, maybe the best lesson we can teach our kids at the moment is how to be kind and considerate.
Good luck all, we can do this….
Week 3 of school brought new challenges. This was our first proper full week of school including Extra Murals. The days feel a lot longer now, busier. My first alarm goes off at 5:30. I generally hit snooze 3 times and slowly wake up and then I am out of bed by 5:45. I go down, make myself some coffee, pack school snacks, and water bottles. Make sure the kids’ books are back in their bags after doing homework the day before. I pack sports bags/aftercare clothes, if and when needed. Then I sweep the floor and clean the kitchen. There are generally items in the basin from the night before, or the dishwasher needs to be unpacked. I also load washing.
By this time either one of both the boys has joined me downstairs. I then make them some breakfast. From there I wake up my husband and the kids and I get dressed and ready to go. We leave the house at 7:20. Depending on traffic, the kids generally walk-in at school as the first bell goes off at 7:50.
Back at home I tidy the rest of the house and get some work done.
Now that Extra murals have started and our are days are as follow
The kids’ school days end at 13:15 for Gr 1 and 14:15 for Gr 3.
Mondays, the boys have Cricket, so Liam 13:30-14:30 and Henri 14:30-15:30.
We collect the kids at 15:30 Mon-Thurs.
Tuesdays Liam has no extra murals and stays at aftercare. Henri has Tennis.
Wednesdays Liam has Ball Skills and Henri Chess.
Thursdays, if there is no Match they have Cricket practice.
Friday school is done and dusted for both at 13:15.
So our new norm is getting home at 4 pm Monday to Thursday. Then we do homework, which could be completed in 20min, but it takes us an hour because little brother can be very distracting.
The kids then play while I get dinner ready. Then it is the usual, dinner, shower and bedtime.
The afternoons are a massive rush and “stress” point for me because there is so much to do in a small time frame, but I am letting go of wanting to have it all done by a certain time. Washing can be taken down and folded at 8pm, it is fine. But by 9pm I am knackered and just want to get into bed. My husband and I watch some TV and I am generally in bed by 10pm.
Week 3 brought along two new first for us. The first being Liam and all the other Gr1’s being inducted. All the grade one’s were called on the stage, one by one, by the principal. They shook the principal’s hand and rang the bell. It was so super cute seeing all the little faces on stage, being welcomed into their new school.
Henri was chosen to play in the first Cricket match ever. He was so stoked. He had only had one practice the Monday and got chosen to play in the match on Thursday. On the Thursday, the excitement was clear from the moment he got up. He couldn’t wait for the school day to be done so he could play in his first match. We picked them up at 14:00 and drove to the school where the match was taking place. Henri was chosen as opening batsman. They play mini cricket, so the rules are a bit different. My husband and I were very confused, to say the least. But it was so nice to see how everyone got a chance. Henri missed the first ball, the second ball hit the stumps, third ball he hit but the bowler caught it, so technically he would have been out, twice, but because they have different rules he kept playing. On the fourth ball, he hit what would be a 4 in a normal game. Not sure how they score it, but he was very chuffed with himself, and so was dad off course.
Once the away team all had a chance to bowl and our team all batted they had a water break and swopped. Henri was first to bowl. He did very well, I knew from age 2 hat this child would play Cricket. he has a very accurate throw and a lot of power behind it. The fielding was interesting, all the other boys stayed on their spots, Henri, on the other hand, was all over the place, he just wanted to catch the players out and be part of the action. He hasn’t been chosen to play in the last 3 matches, but they have so many kids playing cricket and only 2 team that plays, so they try and rotate the kids to give them all a chance, which I love.
Henri’s second test went a LOT better, he received 14/14 for spelling, 18/20 for Afrikaans Spelling, 18/20 for math. Dictation was still very bad, but we will keep working on it.
What I love about his teacher, she said that with Creative writing she doesn’t like to be too strict with spelling and writing mistakes, because she says it is very demotivating when a child has written a beautiful story but then opens their book to red pen everywhere. So for her, it is more about the story they have written, than the spelling or grammar mistakes.
Henri is doing so well and I am just grateful that we were lucky enough to get placed with such a lovely teacher.