For those of you who read my last post you will know we have made the decision to home educate Neiva following a nature curriculum. In the early stages of planning it felt like a mountainous undertaking, but, with lots of research, an enormous amount of guidance from friends who home educate their children, and the nature led learning community on social media, we feel confident enough to start this.
Those who know me IRL, know that being organised is not something that comes naturally to me. I do have to work very hard at it. I hope this is encouraging to those of you who are the same and this may be one of the reasons holding you back. I hope I can reassure you that, it hasn’t taken me as long as I thought to get into these new habits which have made home education seem less overwhelming.
As well as the worry of being organised came an overwhelming feeling of self doubt. Teaching would fall solely on my shoulders, not Paul, who is the naturally more academic and more patient of the two of us. Will I be able to give her the same level of learning that she was currently receiving in mainstream school? Neiva isn’t your typical 7 year old. Her hyperlexia means she is already an advanced reader and an overachiever in mathematics. The challenge that would be encouraging her conversational and social skills. Would she be patient enough with me? Would I be patient enough with her? Again, becoming more organised and prepared in advance has alleviated a lot of these fears.
Over the last few weeks, we seem to have gotten into a very consistent organised rhythm, which has only benefited us as a family whilst preparing this exciting time. What have we found helpful so far?
Have a designated room/space
Firstly, we agreed to have a designated school room, in our case, the summer house in the garden which was previously used as an office for Paul. Since Neiva thrives on routine, having a designated place for schooling means that she will adapt better during learning time. The outdoor environment is perfect for her nature schooling. A lot of home educating parents I have connected with over the last few weeks have similar ethos. I’ve seen really creative ways of curating a learning environment, from a large unused room to a small but clearly defined corner of the house.
Make sure you have “me time” each day
Paul has taken over Neiva’s bedtime routine from start to finish. So the whole brush teeth, toilet, finding the right teddy, read 50 stories, chatty giddy stage that happens right before bed is solely on him. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this help! This has helped massively because I know everyday I have a slice of time in which to catch up and clean up ready for the next day, as well as calving out some very important relaxation time. I am sad to have given this up as reading to her was my favourite part of the day, but we get a lot of opportunity to read during her school day and she is happy with our new arrangement. She’s very much a daddy’s girl and does miss him very much through the day. so having this one to one time with him is really good for her. Although, the down side for me is that we have currently gone from the gentle adventures of Enid Blyton to the chaotic yet fun escapades of Captain Underpants. He does brilliant voices for each of the characters which she absolutely loves, hes a much more exciting reader than me!
Invest in a planner
For probably the first time in my whole adult life, I have a planner. This has been revolutionary. Actually writing tasks down and crossing them off as finished is so cathartic. I finally feel one step ahead. There are a number of planning apps for smartphones, but personally I prefer a physical paper planner, but you can choose whatever works for you. My planner was very inexpensive, designed for teachers, and works really well for what I need it to do. The only downside to it (that I didn’t realise when I bought it) is that it is an American planner and had US holidays bookmarked instead of UK bank holidays, but I’ve manually written those in so it really isn’t the end of the world.
Keeping costs low
It is easy to get carried away when preparing to home school. Pinterest for me was a nightmare. I fell down a rabbit hole of beautifully creatively elaborate recreations of a school classroom when all Neiva really needed was the basics. So, the walls have been painted white which makes the wood look stunning. We have a whiteboard, a bookcase and a plain white desk and two spare dining room chairs. We already had this sideboard which we have used for extra storage and a nature table. We also have a couple of photo shelves for the walls (you will soon see what these will be used for). A blank canvas, so we have plenty of room to showcase her work as time progresses.
The mud kitchen outside was made from a pallet and an old potting table. The muffin tins and cups are all recycled from family and friends. The whole mud kitchen project cost next to nothing and has proven to be such a useful space for Neiva.
Books are an integral part of our schooling and could be something that could really send your budget spiralling out of control. I am an total bibliophile and have shelves full of books so I feel I am qualified to preach here a little. The most cost efficient way of ensuring you have the right books at the right price has always been for me our Amazon Prime account. More often than not, Amazon will have the book at the cheapest price with the added bonus of free fast delivery. If not, then I always look under their used section. Many books in used but good condition start as little as 99p. We also have a library a short walk from where we live if the occasion should arise that we cannot source a book we need.
I hope these tips have been useful to anyone looking to start their home educating adventure. Thank you for taking the time to read and if you have any questions just pop them below and I will be sure to try and answer them.
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