Do you know who I have learned a lot from this year? Homeschoolers. Honestly, I have learned a lot about education this year, some that in encouraging and good, and some that makes me a bit worried for our kids and makes me rethink my own opinions of and relationship to education the way we do it right now.
We have been learning from home since the middle of February, we saw the virus come here in France early and our kids were learning from home before we had the lockdown in the spring. I love how my homeschooling friends rose to the occasion and started being supportive and guide us newbies on our journey. There were a few things that I learned.
First, the academic part of school work does not take as long as the school day plus the homework time. It’s way too much. One of my homeschooling friends told me they spend about four hours a day doing academic work. Her kids are about the same age as mine and that is about what we spend too, some days it’s a little more and some days it’s a little less. It’s a little less for my youngest, so he does a lot of art and other creative things when his siblings finish their work.
We have the freedom to do things in the order that it works for us, start and finish when it is best for us and take break as it is best for us. We often struggle with getting enough good sleep when the days get shorter, and this year we can get up when it gets light and start our day in a way that is more compatible with our cycles. That is especially going to benefit one of my sons and my husband, and as a wider effect, all of us.
I have learned to make time for boredom and creativity. Boredom and creativity might sound strange together, but as an artist I know that sometimes you spend time in your studio, you do the work, even when you don’t feel inspired, and then you get into a groove and you find a rhythm that sparks creativity all around you. I would do this during holidays before, now it has become an integrated part of how we are. We have used the time to nurture creativity, not in organized and prescribed ways, but as a general way of being. It shows up as experimental baking, watercolor painting, tree house building, music composing, sewing, coding and story making.
I have learned to take time for physical activity. This used to be something we all did on our own. My kids had their PE, I did my exercises on my own. Now every morning, we exercise together. We either do circuit training, yoga, play basketball or go for a run or walk in the forest. This time is invaluable to me, our kids get to move every day, we set a routine we work around and we get in shape together. And we see and know where they need to learn things and we get to watch them learn. My kids are not really sporty, but one of our core values in our family is to stay strong and active.
I have learned to take advantage of being able to be outdoors together. When it isn’t too cold we do our work outside. We spend time with our animals outside. Our newest addition to the family, Timmy the tortoise needs his daily playtime on the grass in the garden, we shoot hoops, sit and read together outside or take care of our donkey and horses. By now you can probably tell that we have full days and that I really love spending all this time with the kids. What I see though, is that my kids have become so much gentler with themselves and each other during this strange time. They support and listen to each other in a way that they will keep way beyond covid. My homeschooling friends kids do all kinds of cool activities outdoors. They ride horses, they sail, they flamenco dance, they do long distance running and lots of more cool things. They have the time and they are able to, without stress, go deep with their passions. I want to keep that, whether we go back to a more traditional format of school at some point or if we decide that the distance learning is better for us. Either way, I am learning a lot, and unlearning a lot and evaluating the things I didn’t think much about in a whole new way. Maybe unlearning things that are out of date is one of the biggest gifts we can get. What do you think?
Are there things you have learned or reevaluated when it comes to your kids education during this time? I would love to hear from you if you are up for sharing your stories 🙂 email me at email@example.com