Friday 20 March 2020

Timing, Routine and Free Learning for Home Learning

With the school closures happening as we predicted the thought of teaching the children at home has hit many hard.

For those who have read my previous post I hope that it’s useful and filled you with some encouragement.
However, I’m aware that it wasn’t as clear cut as I initially thought. Some parents have raised a few questions that I need to address.
Time Frame

I previously outlined what the school day would be but I feel that I need to be a bit more precise.

Teaching from home ISN’T the same as school; the time scale is a lot shorter.

Most lessons at school last around 50 minutes.

At home you DO NOT need to do a 6 hour day with your children. Realistically you only do 3 hours!

Let me break it down by taking off the time that isn’t used at school.

20 to 30 minutes in the morning is usually a free time. Most schools start work around 9am.

Most children will have 1 or 2 15 minute breaks. They then will have 30 minutes to eat their lunch and a 30 minute break.

In total you have already taken 2 hours away from the school day. Leaving only 4 hours of education left.
Each lesson is broken down too.

Lessons usually start with a 10 - 15 minute “warm up" activity. This is designed to fit “all the levels” of the children in the class.

Introductions usually cover the work set per groups. Subsequently, they will cover questions for the lower, middle and top ability.

Then at the end of the lesson there’s a 5 minute “closure activity"; quick activities that check the understanding and emphasis on key objectives.

Realistically you won’t need to spend 15 minutes doing warm up activities. Receiving 1:1 education allows children to absorb more through learning or discussion. Spending 5 minutes doing 1 or 2 of the questions as examples still doesn’t fill up the normal time they have in school.

Taking 10 minutes from the initial 15 minutes across the 4 lessons per day will save 40 minutes.

You need to then consider school assemblies, changing for PE, hanging coats up, tidying the class up between lessons and you easily round the last 40 minutes up to 1 hour.

This then leaves 3 hours of actual learning.

When it comes to the other lessons you get much more freedom to adapt. If you’re doing projects then you can break them down into sections. 10 minute discussions, 5 -10 minutes mind mapping or recording, 10 minutes research, 15 to 20 minutes for activities.

If it is a “read and complete” exercise then I would suggest 5 minute reading together. 5 minute comprehension and discussion. 5 - 10 minutes mind mapping and 20 minutes activities.

As for a layout I would suggest this:

9am – 9.30am Literacy
9.30am - 10am Numeracy
10am – 10. 30am Space for anything that needs going over, extra break time or something physical to break the day up.
10.30am - 11am Break (Free activities)
11am - 12pm Subject 1.
12pm - 1pm Lunch and Free Activities
1pm - 2pm Subject 2
Free Activities for the rest of the day.

If you write a list of subjects and then draw up a timetable you’ll actually find that this fits across the week really well. It should even give extra free time activities.


I’ve seen a lot of people saying similar points:

1. “This is hard enough for us. Let alone for them. Make sure they get as much free time to regulate as possible”

2. “With it being the Easter holidays in over a week I’m sure giving them a week of fun wouldn’t do them any harm".

3. “When it gets too hard at least we have Netflix/Consoles/Tech to rely on!”

I find these comments quite frustrating.

In many ways I agree. One of the first things Home Ed parents do is “unschool" their children.

Unschooling is exactly what it says! Everything that you would consider as ‘schooled’ needs to be ignored.

‘Schooled’ is the concept of teaching a child to be regimented into a routine filled with structure, guidance and an adult led education. The adults therefore present the work to the child and the child learns from that point.

With unschooling you have the idea of an ‘Open Classroom’ where life has enough lessons and interests to allow the child to learn. In principle from then the adults are there to be facilitators to the child/ren allowing them to experience as much as possible.

It encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children, believing that the more personal learning, the more meaningful, well-understood and, therefore, useful it is.

So, not putting pressure on children and showing that learning at home isn’t a regimented system. However, please don’t fall into the trap of not creating a routine.

How many parents experience the “blow out" after school? Where children seem to be more free, more upbeat and “bouncy" after school?

This is usually because they’re comfortable at home to be themselves compared to their “school persona”.

Trying to convert to school is incredibly difficult and the only way to do so is to create a solid routine.

Take another look at the timetable above.

Do you think it's too ridged? That’s 3 hours of learning spread over 5 hours. That’s not a lot.

Realistically the workload, outside of discussion and 1:1 learning is no more than 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Home is relaxed and fun. The key is to make sure children know they have that fun and work separate.

By allowing children to watch Netflix or play on their console until midday and then trying to teach them sets the wrong message. How many of you are 100% convinced that your child will willingly stop, throw themselves into school work and put their full attention in if they’ve just spent the last 4 hours playing or watching TV?

If you still want to give them free time and be more relaxed than the above then please at least keep a solid routine for Literacy and Numeracy.

Although I am perfectly understanding of it being the Easter holidays I would also question how parents plan to get the children motivated back into learning after it? As an adult would you feel motivated back into work after a holiday?

Again, I don’t expect 6 hour days during the holidays but wouldn’t it be beneficial to still do a little Literacy and Numeracy during it? Isn’t that why a lot of schools give homework out over the holidays?

Free learning 

You don’t have to follow the set learning that the school suggests.

Why not change things up?

Why not choose a fun topic and project that you know your child/ren will love?

Having a theme through the week is often quite handy. You can adjust all subjects to match up. You could look at a subject like Roman's and make the topic fit most subjects. For example, Roman's could be in Literacy where you’re writing a Roman story.

Ultimately having one project touching all areas.
Learning is meant to be fun. So make it fun. Don’t just sit at a table for 6 hours or even the 3 hours I lay out.

Make sure the activities are engaging and fun. Make sure the children can move about and enjoy every lesson they do. Any of the subjects listed can be adapted so take advantage of it!

Home learning doesn’t mean solidly sitting still. It’s not asking you to ban your children’s free time and it really isn’t saying that it can’t be fun for you and them.

But it does expect you to continue, in some form, for as long as you can.

As before, message me if you need any help or have any questions.

1 comment:

JOhn Adams said...

And with this, yo uhave broken down the homeschooling day into easy to understand, easy to apply modules! Explained it superbly as well Martyn. Great blog post.