A Guide to Homeschooling

Right now, the majority of the world’s schools are more than likely closed or at the very least, have moved online, rendering the planet’s future movers and shakers to be sat at home and their education more than likely being lain in the hands of their parents. Home schooling isn’t easy, especially when you’re also trying to do your day job. Working from home while simultaneously managing your kids’ education can be hard to balance and although we’re no experts on home schooling, we’d like to try and help.

While we are not necessarily experts on home schooling, here at Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS), we are experts at keeping kids and teenagers entertained from the moment they wake up each day to the moment they rest their tired heads on their pillows at night. We want to keep our students (and their parents) as happy as possible and never bored as a bored child is a problem and an unhappy child is normally a bored child. The Buckswood motto is “putting time into your child,” and this is what you must try to do make a success of your home schooling.

Below are our suggestions on how to make home schooling more fun, more beneficial and of course, if it’s possible, easier for the working parent.

Limit screen time

Your kids will hate you but they’ll thank you for it in the future and while this suggestion may be contradictory to what one may think home schooling is, most notably online learning, it is so important to limit the screen time of kids.

While there are benefits to screen time such as the enhancing of teamwork and creativity through online games and fast and easy access to knowledge, there is also a downside to spending so much time in front of a screen. Too much screen time can affect the sleep patterns of children as the light emitted from their screen tricks the brain into thinking that it is always daytime and believe it or not, young people these days are more forgetful than pensioners! Young people rely on having quick access to things that they need to know whereas the older generations would commit their knowledge to memory. Young brains are therefore developing differently, and not necessarily more positively than ever before.

At BOSS, we have “no phone days” and while this was initially met by groans and moans from our students (and some parents) it was eventually embraced as students actually realised that life wasn’t so bad, the majority thought that it was better, without a phone. Socialising was up, creativity was up, and happiness was up. No phone days became the highlight of the week for everyone and the atmosphere around the school was completely different in such a good way. No phone days are an absolute pleasure and long may they continue, not only at BOSS but also in your house! Good luck with that!

Instead of screen time, try reading a book, creative writing or colouring books.

Read: Screen Time – Learn About It

Ideas: How to Limit Your Child's Screen Time

Spend time outdoors

Spending time outdoors is also something that can benefit the home schooling parent. Try, of course if you can, to get outside with your kids before you start work, during your breaks, during your lunch and after work.

There are so many significant health benefits to spending time outdoors. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anger, help you to feel more relaxed, improve physical health and improve your confidence and self-esteem amongst many other things.

You could also incorporate your home schooling into your time outdoors by incorporating fun activities. Think comparing leaf sizes, making towers from twigs or building shelters to stay dry and warm. The possibilities are endless!

Read: Nature and mental health

Ideas: 101 Nature Study Ideas for Homeschoolers

Be practical

Kids love nothing more than being practical and at BOSS, we believe that being practical is the best way to learn. If you think about medical doctors, when they are studying, yes they have some written exams but a lot of their study time is spent actually working in hospitals, learning through doing. Think about learning a language, you can learn from a book but you’ll never know how the words or phrases sound or how it feels to successfully use your new found skills with a native speaker in real life. At BOSS, we are often told by parents that their child has an advanced level of English, they have studied and have completed all of their books from beginner to advanced but when they arrive at BOSS and find themselves in a real life situation, they cannot speak a word of English. Yes, they may have completed all of their books and have an excellent knowledge of reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar, but in reality, they have never heard the words that they have read on those pages, they have never spoken those words and find that as they have never had any practise, they literally cannot speak English out loud and they will also struggle to understand what is being said to them. That is why practical experience, and practical learning is so important.

Try teaching your child maths with a cardboard box, a dice, a cup and some sand. Roll the dice, pour in cups of sand according to the number on the dice. Who will fill the box first and how many cups of sand did it take? Without even knowing it, your child is learning numbers, measure and volume.

Learning from text books is all good and well but for kids (and adults), it can be boring and a chore meaning they won’t be retaining much information. Turn the lesson into a fun, practical game and they will remember forever. This is how we teach our students English at BOSS and it is why our students’ English improves so much. Our courses are practical, and of course fun!

Read: The importance of practical learning

Ideas: 10 at-home learning ideas that hardly cost a penny

Be creative

Think back to your own childhood, a time before technology, a time before our lives were dominated by screens. I bet you have fond memories of drawing, painting, writing stories, writing poems, being creative. In our opinion, creativity is not only fun, it is one of the most important, if not the most important things that you can allow a child to be.

Creativity isn’t just about making a blank piece of paper look beautiful or filling a blank page with engrossing words – creativity is using your imagination, it is thinking, it is solving problems, it is being inventive, it is innovation, it is the ability to express ourselves in a number of ways – singing, dancing. Creativity is thinking outside of the box, doing things your own way, it is finding solutions. Ultimately, creativity is everything if you really think about it!

Watch: TED Talk - Do schools kill creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson

Read: Five reasons why creativity is important for kids

Ideas: Creative Activities Craft Ideas Primary Resources

Be active

Being active is not only something that is super important and beneficial to everyone, it is also a privilege, it is a right. We have these bodies so let’s use them! Don’t let them be inactive and get out of shape! As mentioned, simply heading outdoors for a walk is being active but you don’t have to be outdoors to be active and while we have suggested limiting screen time, one advantage of screen time and technology is that we literally have a personal trainer at our finger tips and we can welcome them into our home!

The physical activity that your child does at a young age can set them up for life – improving cardio fitness, encouraging bones and muscles to grow strongly, controlling weight, encouraging good mental health as well as reducing risk of future health issues.

Remember that being active doesn’t just involve press-ups and sit-ups, etc. it can also include activities such as dance, yoga, gymnastics and a lot, lot more so choose an activity that you think will be most engaging for your child.

YouTube hosts a wealth of, maybe too many, videos that can simply be put on and followed so head over there and choose your favourite coach for your activity!

Read: Exercise for children and young people

Do nothing

Remember that it is also important to introduce downtime to your home schooling days. Regular breaks and downtime will keep your child enthusiastic and allow them to not only process what they are learning but also to rest. You can also use downtime as a reward – spend 20 minutes completing a task and earn a 5 minute break to do whatever they want. Doing nothing is also good for your child’s mental health and will ease the pressure of home schooling and allow them to be themselves.

Doing nothing may also involve a bit of meditation, something which is becoming ever more popular for youngsters as it has been proven that it improves attention and behaviour, something we are sure will make you very happy!

Read: Just Breathe: The Importance of Meditation Breaks for Kids

We hope that you find these suggestions helpful. While home schooling may be difficult for the parent, also remember that these children would normally be in school, surrounded by numerous friends, socialising, running around in the playground, playing games, playing football and having fun with a multitude of resources and qualified humans to educate them and keep them entertained. As difficult (or as easy) as it may be, let’s make this time count and hope that in the future, the children of today (and parents) will look back on this experience with fond memories!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the information in this article, please do let us know.

Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS) is a British Council accredited young learner language school for international students aged 8 to 17. To find out more, please visit www.buckswoodsummerschool.com or contact us here.

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