There are different styles of home education, some folk adhere to strict timetables, with a wide range of subjects, others adopt educational styles available in more exclusive private schools like Steiner or Montessori, whilst a large portion of the home ed community dabble in autonomous learning, that is, a totally child led approach. The key thing home elders can usually agree on is that the educational style has to fit with the child and family involved. For some parents autonomous learning is too much of a leap of faith that nothing will get missed, whilst for a child removed from school due to unhappy circumstances the strict “school at home” could leave them no better off than they were. It is important for parents who have made the decision to home educate to consider their child carefully to see what will work best. And it must be remembered that the style can change! Autonomous primary school learning can give way to strict courses leading to qualifications quite naturally when a child is ready.
For us, as for many, a hybrid approach has worked well. Our days start with a quite formal session doing Maths or English from workbooks and textbooks. I have to be fully available for this ready to assist as required. There is no fixed time for this session, although I try to keep it under an hour to minimise fidgeting, as people finish exercises at different rates. After a break the work steps down a gear, the younger two may work on the computer, or do some games or activity with me whilst the older two tackle something from a correspondence course, or towards a project. Then we all gather for lunch.
After lunch is cleared up, and some steam has been let off, or we have gone for a walk or something, the afternoon tends to be time to get creative. We do art or play games, cook or they may monopolise me or their dad into some experiments. Cassie, and increasingly Libby, may also get encouraged into doing an hour or so of her studies, and I try to be available, if needed, for feedback or understanding. Often the boys will disappear for chunks of the afternoon to embark on epic adventures with various toys, sometimes Libby joins them.
Everything comes to a halt around 4pm because of minecraft! This is the time their friends are also available to play, so it allows a little social contact too. I can then sort out tea without too much distraction.
As you can see our day becomes less and less structured, and there is lots of room for changes depending upon current activities. We have found this balance works well for those days we do not have other activities outside the house. When we are going out, we can usually fit the formal session in first, especially the girls, but it can be difficult to get stuck into anything after being out and about. This is probably because I am more of a morning worker, and I am sure it would be different for other families.
A final comment must be included before you all get a rosy picture of idilic organisation… very few days follow my plan exactly! Home education requires a lot of give and take, especially with more than one child, but having a guideline keeps you sane, and gives you something to fall back on when things get too chaotic