Some helpful advice for home schooling parents and carers

Being educated at home can be fun: Abigail and Joseph Theakston with a sundial they recently made when learning about keeping time with the sun. Their mum Sarah, said she encourages her children to regularly conduct their learning outside.

their fourth week of educating their children at home due to the COVID lockdown, some families are developing routines while others are ready to pull their hair out.
In an effort to help, The Cobar Weekly has reached out to some “home school experts” for advice that might help to make the whole pro-cess easier.
We spoke to three Cooinda Home School mums, Sarah Theakston, Ness Cavalot and Louise McKervey.
Between them they have 14 children (ranging in ages from 18 to one) all of whom have been educated at home.
While the process each of the three families have elected to use to educate their children is labelled as ‘home schooling’ by the NSW Edu-cation Standards Authority (with which they are all registered), all three prefer to use the term ‘home educating’.
Each family has their own way of doing things and each mum also admits to having days when they too could pull their hair out.
Sarah said that’s when you have to realise that what you are doing is not working.
“Change what you are doing.
“These are the days to pull out the board games, go for a walk together, put on an epi-sode of “Horrible Histories” for the kids and make yourself a cuppa.
“Tomorrow is a new day and the work can get done then,” Sarah recommends.
“See this time as a gift, time spent with your kids that you wouldn’t normally get.
“Teach your kids some life skills like how to use the washing machine, play board games together, bake and read together.
“Your kid won’t be behind if they don’t fill in all the paper work,” she said.
Ness said there are days when she sees the school bus drive past their house she thinks how much easier it would be to just put them on it, “but I wouldn’t change it!,” she said
“Hang in there and read to them.
“Find books that interest them and read.
“Also have a good stash of chocolate hidden (from the kids) for you on those tough days,” Ness offered.
Louise said there’s not much point trying to teach your kids if you are stressed.
“No one is learning anything.
“And I can imagine trying to do school at home would be very stressful – I don’t know though, I’ve never done it!”
Louise’s philosophy is that play is the highest form of learning, so if you’re stressed, she rec-ommends you let your children play, preferably outside.
As registered home schoolers, the families are not tied to a curriculum, timetables, or set hours and can tailor their teaching to each indi-vidual child.
“This is what makes it so fun,” Ness said.
While the Cavalots have set up a dedicated play/school room area in their home, Ness said their kids still end up doing their work on their beds or on the trampoline.
It’s similar at the Theakston house where Sarah has been home educating their children for the past 13 years.
“Getting the kids to sit up is probably what parents are struggling with,” Sarah said.
“We fit our learning into our lifestyle.
“Sometimes the boys are lying on the floor doing maths at 7.30am, sometimes they don’t start till 10.”
At the McKerveys place, they have a mix with a child that stays up late and some early risers among their four children.
“I have one night owl. Isla comes up with the best ideas late at night,” Louise said.
“She does some really cool art then!
“Cora is usually up and doing something around 6am.
“The boys need to be full of 5kg worth of breakfast before their brains start.
“They learn because they want to – and they learn what and when they want to.
“There’s usually no schedule,” Louise said.
All three families report there are multitude of tools and resources available to them in Co-bar.
Sarah said her help comes from lots of books, the local library, internet/computer, other peo-ple (especially a retired Science teacher) and television documentaries.
“I use bought curriculum for some subjects (e.g. maths, spelling).”
Sarah encouraged any parents who were stuck for ideas to reach out in the community where there are plenty of learning opportunities for your kids and yourself.
“All our kids have learnt music with Judy Toomey [who is now conducting virtual clas-ses] and we have a group (Cooinda) that usual-ly meets weekly [when they aren’t in lock-down] to do a variety of activities.”
Ness said “mess” is her best tool for helping to educate her children.
“Paint, glitter, mud, dress ups, tools, LOTS of books.
“If there is plenty around to interest them they will naturally learn.
“The library is great (especially with deliver-ies now!) TV, there is some great stuff on telly and documentaries.
“Then you have so much knowledge around too, neighbours, grandparents etc,” Ness added.