Whether you are thinking about home educating, or have already sent in your registration paperwork, here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of home education.
Your learning plan is only a rough outline, designed to show the VRQA that you understand how to create a learning environment to suit your child’s individual needs. But how will that translate to daily/weekly learning?
Home education, like the life it is part of, is unpredictable. As a result detailed planning (like in schools) is likely to lead to frustration. Mental health days, illness, unexpected opportunities, family responsibilities and sudden new interests often get in the way of carefully laid plans, so whilst it’s great to have a rough structure planned out, allow for flexibility.
If you are happy to follow where life leads you, and plan only for the next few days, then you probably don’t need to read the rest of this section. If you or your child prefer more structure in your life, then please read on.
Some home educators are happy to loosely plan for 30 weeks of activities per year, because at least ten weeks are lost (in the very best way possible) to camps, excursions, work experience, and opportunities that are too good to miss. It’s advisable to make a loose plan for each key learning area: one science topic per term, three maths activities per week, but to keep detailed planning for the week ahead.
Prioritise the areas that you and your child feel are most important, whether it’s spending time reading together to improve fluency, learning life skills, working on maths required for a university course, or exploring nature.
Remember that plans change. By planning only the near future in detail, you can save yourself the frustration of feeling you have wasted time and money preparing, printing or purchasing items that turn out not to be needed.
Often people overplan, because they wish to provide structure to their week, but as this article explains, structure can be created in many ways [link]
Groups and activities help to add a natural structure to your week, as well as providing social opportunities for you and your child. Often these opportunities run for a whole morning, afternoon or day, but don’t worry if that means there’s no time for maths. Once you get into the swing of things, you may be surprised by the amount of incidental learning that happens at social groups, not to mention the quality of activities available within the community. Many people cover one or more learning areas purely through a class or activity, and there are many engaging options available.
Successful home education usually involves creative thinking, and resources are one area where that’s particularly true. We have some guidance about selecting resources, but remember that many of the best resources are those we have already. The home education community is your biggest resource, and people are always ready to recommend resources, or share what’s worked for them. If you are looking for websites and curricula, the HEN Resources page is a great place to start. For hands on activities, website links, games and crafts to support individual learning areas or topics, HEN has Pinterest boards where we have gathered together many great topics. The HEN Victorian Group on Facebook has regular resource posts, as does Otherways magazine (free to HEN members). Those who choose to join HEN also have access to a range of discounts on educational products.
Choosing home education is a big leap for many families, but don’t feel that just because you have put in your application, that’s the end of the support available. HEN volunteers regularly chat to people as they adjust, and Facebook groups are a real boon. If your child has diverse learning needs, or is a teen or preschooler, there are groups specifically for you. And local Facebook groups, as well as local meetups are great for reassurance and support.
So try to relax. Remember that home education does not need to look like school in order to be successful, that as a parent you know your child and their needs better than anyone else, and that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to home educate – though if you are, there are plenty of HE kids who would be interested in meeting you!
Where to from here?
– finalise your registration if you haven’t already.
– make a list, if necessary, of the areas you feel need attention in your home ed, whether it be academic, mental health needs, life skills, etc.
– sit down with your children and ask what they’d like to learn, then brainstorm ways to go about that.
– what resources will you need? Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money upfront. Check our Resources advice page.
– make a loose plan as outlined above: what would you like to accomplish over the next year, month or week? Is there a family routine or rhythm that would suit you best?
– find support if you need it. HEN is here to help you with your home ed journey, please feel free to get in touch.
– have fun!