The Positive Side of Home Learning

Home schooling? Home learning? It doesn’t matter what you call it, I find it really hard. There are so many challenges, but I particularly struggle with all 3 of my children doing different activities and all needing my help. I feel constantly pulled in different directions with none of them getting my full attention. And I frequently lose my temper. But, and this surprises me, there are parts I actually enjoy.

A family of 5 and a cat drawn by a 4 year old. The bodies are all very basic with arms, legs and heads (no torso)
Our family (including the cat)

On those rare days when my children actually want to learn I enjoy explaining new concepts to them. I love to see those moments where something clicks and they suddenly get it. The moments when they understand something for the first time. My eldest has always been very quick to pick up English, Maths and ideas in general, but my younger daughter, my middle child, takes longer. She needs to practice more before she remembers and when it comes to writing she is reluctant to practice.

Even on the worst days of home schooling though I can see changes in my younger daughter. This is her Reception year. A really important year. She is learning the core fundamental skills of reading and writing and she is doing it at home with a tired, grumpy, often depressed and frequently distracted mother. And despite that I have seen progress.

A very basic representation of the planet Earth with 5 colourful stick figures drawn on it
We all live on Earth. Apparently.

When she last went into school on 11th December to be sent straight home again (her class bubble closed a week before the holidays due to a positive case) she was unable to write the numbers 1 to 10. There were 3 of the numbers in particular (2, 4 and 8 I think) that she just couldn’t get right. I don’t know whether she had the wrong image in her head or she couldn’t work out how to translate that image onto the paper. First we cracked 8 (she knows “S” from her name so I got her to do that then keep going) then the other numbers. She can now write them all in a recognisable way, even if she often gets them back to front. The effort to persuade her to sit down each day and write numbers 1 to 10 has paid off.

We still have a way to go with number recognition because if you take them out of order she struggles to identify them BUT she can see a number, count up in her head and then say what that number is. Which brings me to something else I have been lucky enough to learn through our homeschooling adventure together:  I am beginning to understand how she learns. Her memory is much more visual and involves movement, learning through doing, which is very different to me.

Her writing is improving, even if I’m essentially ignoring cursive writing. Over the last couple of months her ability to sound out words and blend them has improved hugely. I think this is less to do with the practice she has had and more due to her being developmentally more ready though. 

The new sounds we are learning (digraphs, check me out knowing what that means after all these years) are taking her a long time to remember so I’m trying to help her learn the Jolly Phonics songs and actions because I know that helped with the original phonemes (ha, letter sounds).

The page is divided into 3 with one section focused on sh, one ch and one th. A 4 year old has written some words for each and drawn a picture
Learning about digraphs and my daughter

They are currently learning about space and I have relearned about the planets while she learns for the first time. I can even remember the order of them now, but it is NEVER going to sound right that there are only 8. Pluto will not be forgotten.

Over the last week I have seen her improvement in using scissors: Earth and Venus ended up considerably smaller than expected, but for some reason by Mars she started to cut along the lines. This has made Mars and Earth a similar size (Mars should be smaller), but given the largest planet (Jupiter) is only the size of a small plastic plate her solar system isn’t exactly to scale. The point is she cut the last few planets beautifully along the circle she drew. A simple thing maybe, but something I would have missed out on if she was in school.

Today for the first time Little verbalised that she was missing school. She is missing the fun and her friends. I am sad that after missing half of her Preschool year she is now missing much of Reception too. The years where she should be playing and making friends before learning becomes more formal. I am sad that she isn’t getting calm, patient teachers and an environment without a toddler trying to steal her pens. I am sad, but it is special to see her progress and to know I have played some small part in it.


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