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Some Common Issues and How to Overcome Them

Karen Binedell, Mum to ‘Our Travelling Family’, highlights common problems faced by homeschooling families and offers top tips on how to overcome them.

Over the course of the last year I have tried to share an honest and accurate account of our homeschooling journey. Those of you who have been following along from the start will know how incredibly happy our family is with our decision to homeschool, as well as with the structure, support and sense of community provided by Wolsey Hall Oxford.

In the last few weeks I have received a number of messages via our social media accounts and one question in particular has come up time and again, ‘What do you do when homeschooling is hard?’

So for this month’s blog post I’d like to share our experience of overcoming hurdles in the early days of homeschooling.

First, to those of you who find yourselves homeschooling for the first time and not out of choice, I take my hat off to you. Hats off as well as to the schools, teachers and support staff who are doing all they can despite finding themselves in unknown territory. Homeschooling is not something you would usually just jump into. It’s a decision that’s made after plenty of thought and research, hours of weighing up pros and cons, days and weeks of indecision (you get the idea) and then finally arriving at the conclusion that this is the best option for your son or daughter.

So to find yourself suddenly in this position, especially under these circumstances, can feel daunting for both you and your children. My advice? Make the most of this time and consider whether homeschooling may just be the right choice for your family.

Please read on for some common hurdles and how to overcome them.

Homeschooling Tips

The Novelty Has Worn Off

In the first few days and weeks of homeschooling there is often plenty of excitement and motivation. Mum and Dad are eager to do their best to support. There is the new school environment and the lack of uniform. And the promise of more ‘free time’ than ever before excites the kids.

But then the novelty wears off, and both parents and children alike realise that homeschooling isn’t the easy option it’s sometimes perceived to be. Homeschooling takes dedication, support, perseverance, understanding, patience and the ability to continuously adjust.

But if you stick with it, the rewards are endless. Children who are confident, capable and independent. Children who follow their own path, realise their potential and excel. Children who are happy.

You’re Not a Teacher!

No matter what your qualifications, trying to teach your own children requires a unique set of skills. No matter how patient you are or how good your explanations are, you may find yourself on the other end of ‘That’s not how we were taught to do it!’.

Luckily for us parents there are plenty of resources available online to assist us.

Wolsey Hall parents and students will have access to additional resources via the Canvas system, and the support of individual subject tutors and a Student Progress Manager. If you aren’t homeschooling through Wolsey Hall you may wish to consult BBC bitesize and Khan Academy.

Distractions

It goes without saying that there are far more distractions when working from home, whether you’re a child or an adult. The tv, the ping of a notification on your mobile, family members, pets…the fridge!

In our experience what has worked best is to create a calm, tidy environment where the kids are able to work. We try our best to be considerate of one another and we encourage the kids to take plenty of small breaks to help keep them focused.

Why Some Structure is Important

This is something I have mentioned time and again. While homeschooling allows for much more freedom, a little structure/routine is incredibly important.

We use the individual assignment timetables provided by Wolsey Hall as a guide and encourage the children to create a timetable of their own. I think most people are accustomed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education but the beauty of homeschooling is that it constantly evolves and adapts to provide the best fit for each individual.

Our eldest is 16 and most days will sleep in till 10am. Once he is awake he has breakfast, spends about an hour exercising and then begins to study. Our middle son is 15 and finds he works better early in the morning. He will set his alarm for 6:30am, have a cup of tea and some breakfast and then begin his schoolwork while the rest of us are still sleeping. Lastly, we come to our daughter who is 13 and favours a more traditional school day usually working between 9am and 2pm. There is no right or wrong and each individual timetable brings out the best in each child.

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