Home-Schooling: How To Prepare Lessons And Manage Your Time | Part 209 Apr 2020
In my previous article, I wrote about what drove me to begin home-schooling with my two children, as well as the teaching methods I use. In this piece, I explain how I prepare for lessons, and how I manage my time when it comes to both teaching, and fulfilling my duties in the house. I hope that through sharing my personal experience, I can inspire and inform many parents about how to juggle home-schooling during this time.
How do I prepare lessons?
So, I begin by looking into the national curriculum requirement for their age, which gives me guidance on what I need to cover. Based on this, I can compile a set of targets and learning objectives. I am then able to allocate learning resources specific to each target and search for ways to teach it using both practical methods, and table work.
As an example, for Maths, I look into the year’s targets for the specific age, highlight which areas I will focus on for the term; for example, addition and subtraction, or the understanding of time. After this, I create a list of practical activities that are relevant to these targets, along with a number of worksheets to compliment their learning. I use a lot of resources that are readily available, such as toys with parts that can be used for counting/sorting/quantifying, scrap pieces of card that can be made into visual timetables, and drying racks/plastic tupperware/cushions that can be used for making obstacle courses.
What’s my key to teaching at home?
High motivation! I keep them motivated by rewarding them often and keeping their spirits high. This was a real game-changer for me in my home-schooling endeavour. I was always reluctant to use rewards, and would stick to praising them verbally. But I noticed that for my children, this wasn’t a good method. It would often cause frustration, would demotivate them, and it didn’t really help them to build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Once I dropped my stubbornness on withholding rewards, and made these rewards exciting but small, I was able to see great progress in their learning.
Some parents may feel this doesn’t work for their child, and that’s completely okay. One should ensure that they are working along with what clicks with their child, what motivates them, and keeps their spirits high. Do not be bogged down with ‘idealistic’ expectations, as sometimes that can do far more harm than good. Ensure the happiness of your child throughout their learning journey, even if it means you have to change and adapt your methods.
What about time-management?
Amidst all of this, how should your time be managed? What about housework? Where does cooking and cleaning fit into this hectic schedule of teaching at home?
First and foremost, it must be said that home-schooling is a journey that involves the whole family unit. This means that between the couple, there needs to be an understanding of what is required, and adjustments need to be made to accommodate the needs for every individual. Having a partner who shares your passion of home-schooling makes the process a whole lot easier.
For the kids, we manage time by having a clear daily schedule with visuals that are easy to follow. Having a visual schedule really motivates the children as they eagerly anticipate what activity is next, and how fun the day ahead is going to be.
As for juggling housework, such as cooking, planning ahead is key.
There are a number of techniques I have adopted on a day-to-day basis to help ease the load when it comes to cooking:
1. Plan meals in advance
Spending some time planning meals for the week ahead saves you all the thinking time on a daily basis. You can even shop for groceries in advance. Ensure you’re preparing healthy and nutritious food to help those little minds grow.
2. Make effective use of all the time you have
I allocate my time to cook while the kids have their snack-time and go off for the free-play activities that I would have already set up for them. (Yes…they do fight. They argue over “he’s not sharing, she’s snatching,” but I tend to let it pass and let them solve the problem unless it gets really serious, for which I have to leave my cooking half way, and intervene!)
3. Invest in kitchen gadgets that save time
I have invested in some electric kitchenware, such as a pressure cooker, which has made my life so much easier because it saves a lot of cooking time. There are a plethora of such gadgets available that are also very reasonably prices.
4. Don’t over-complicate your meals
I mostly make one-pot meals. I alternate different types of meals to ensure a balanced diet. You can find recipes online or experiment with recipes that are delicious yet simple to make. I hardly make meals that are time-consuming, and over time I have learnt some hacks to make my life easy.
5. Give your children some responsibility (if they’re old enough)
When there are fights between the siblings, I bring one child with me to help me cook, because the cooking needs to be done no matter what! This way the fights stop, and in the process, my child feels a sense of responsibility while also learning new skills too.
What about the rest of the housework? How do I manage cleaning, laundry, and other chores? Stay tuned for part 3 where I will cover some more techniques I’ve picked up over the course of my home-schooling journey.