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Mr Searle’s Home-Schooling Tips

Mr Searle’s Home-Schooling Tips


Graeme Searle
Graeme Searle
Mr Searle’s Home-Schooling Tips

So how have the first 10 days of ‘no school’ been?  How do you feel about (potentially) another 15 weeks of the same?

As both a teacher and a parent of three boys – aged 5, 7 and 10 – I have found the past two weeks to be strange and quite difficult.  Trying to complete my own work in addition to homeschooling three children has been testing to say the least.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you the things I have learned during the last fortnight in the hope that it can support you during this difficult period.

Firstly, as rewarding as is it, teaching is a difficult job.  I have found it very hard going as an experienced teacher, so all of you non-teaching parents shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.  It is also more difficult to teach your own children – as I have realised!  Children attend school with a ‘learning mindset’ and expect their teachers to teach them.  Their journey to school, the uniform they wear and the physical environment of the school site all help to form their mindset and they are therefore prepared to learn.  When all of the above is removed, as it is at home, things will obviously be a lot harder.

I have found that when it comes to teaching, I am more patient with the students at school than I am when teaching my own children.  I also know through speaking to my children’s teachers at parents evenings that my children are more patient with their school teachers than they are with me (or my wife) when it comes to school work.  But as I have previously mentioned, children expect their teachers to teach, and as parents we also expect the teachers to teach our children if we are being honest.  So my first tip (and probably the most important) for both children and parents is this:  try to be more patient and understanding when it comes to school work.

My second tip is to be more realistic and lower your expectations in terms of time frame.  Students participate in 5 hours of learning each day between Monday to Friday (5 x 1 hour lessons), but it doesn’t mean they have to do the same at home.  I would recommend the following when devising a timetable for homeschooling:

  • Follow the normal school timetable in terms of subjects covered e.g. if your child has an English, maths, science, PE and French lesson on a Monday at school, these are the subjects they should focus on at home each Monday.
  • Reduce the time spent on each subject from 60 minutes (as per a school lesson) to between 35-45 minutes. During a school lesson, your child is one of 25-30 students in the class and many group activities are planned throughout the lesson to maintain focus levels.  As homeschool lessons usually contain a class of one, a shorter period of time will help improve focus – which in turn will improve the quality of work.
  • As soon as one ‘lesson’ is over, spend a few minutes packing away the materials and getting out the equipment required for the next lesson. Then have a quick toilet and drink break.  This way, if you planned for each lesson to last 35 minutes, the entire time will be spent on learning, instead of wasting the first 5 minutes getting organised.
  • As in school, complete 2 lessons and then have a 15 minute break, then focus on another 2 lessons before having a 45 minute lunch and finish the day with the final lesson.
  • Ensure that at least 15 minutes per day is spent exercising – perhaps (as a family) you can complete the Joe Wicks 20 minute workout that is aired live on YouTube at 9am every morning.
  • The rest of the day should be spent participating in activities that are enjoyable in order to unwind and relax.

Other tips:

  • Try to find a quiet and clutter free location for lessons / learning to take place each day e.g. a kitchen table. Ensure that the TV and radio are turned off and nobody else is in the room (if possible) so that concentration levels are improved.
  • At the start of the week, discuss possible rewards that can be issued if the week goes well – for both children and parents.
  • As I’ve done with my own children’s timetables, you may want to add in a few domestic chores as well so you get a bit of help with the housework!
  • Plan in some fun family time too e.g. family movies, board games, football matches in the garden etc.

Completing school work on a regular basis at home is important as students will be returning to school in September and the smaller the gaps in their knowledge, the more successful the academic year will be.

So I hope you find my advice useful, I hope that you and your family members stay fit and healthy and I look forward to seeing you soon.

William practising his handwriting

William, Archie and Rory completing the Joe Wicks workout

Archie working on a mathematical problem

Rory completing a research project on his favourite animals

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