When you are teaching kids at home, it’s sometimes easy to forget the purpose of structured school times. This includes the introduction of holiday breaks. Kids need to have that structure, so that they take the schooling that they get seriously, and know the difference between school times and break times and the seriousness of learning. They can then enjoy that leisure time and relax, and you, as their teacher, get a chance to prepare for the next term, knowing that their progress is on target.
The homeschooling schedule is sometimes hectic. There will be a set amount of learning that you want the children to achieve within their term. By making a schedule in advance, what you are doing is structuring their scholastic year. This needs to include things like half terms, and summer holidays, as well as the Christmas holidays and all the breaks that kids in normal schools take. Your child may already be isolated from other kids by the very nature of their system of education. Keeping a child at home to learn can mean that they don’t get the social interaction that other kids do on a day to day basis. It is therefore vital that at holidays they get a chance to mix with local kids and enjoy that little bit of childhood fun, to give them the energy they need to face the next term of learning.
Making a plan of the work ahead of them makes things a lot easier, and the lessons can be gauged to a time scale, thus making life easier for the teacher and the pupil. The pupil will have a clear indication from their teacher about what homework is expected and perform this in the same way as kids who go to mainline schools do. Lessons will be structured, so that there is a definable difference between leisure time and class time. Having the holidays reinforces the difference as well and gives them something to look forward to, after their schoolwork is done.
The plan should include the level that the child needs to attain within each term, and lesson plans should incorporate different elements to keep the child interested and stimulated. A teacher with a flexible attitude who keeps within the timetable will be able to impart more in a smaller space of time simply because they adapt their teaching to suit the needs of the child, knowing what the end result needs to be and by what date. If extra homework is necessary, this can then be incorporated into the schedule to achieve the results that were anticipated.
Holidays are a time when a child can enjoy their leisure, but also a chance for the homeschooling teacher to plan out the timetable for the next term. While it’s tempting to insist that the child studies all the year round, this doesn’t do the child or teacher a service. Both need down time, and the holidays should be a part and parcel of the overall plan. Holidays are also parent and child times where the child gets to enjoy family time, and sees that parent that teaches them as a fun parent, thus understanding the different roles that they play better.
Charts help the teacher to see at a glance the classwork that they have planned. It also acts as a reminder to the teacher of what preparation needs to be done in advance. If there are televised programs to be included in the schedule, the teacher will have to be aware of the times of these programs, even if they are not used straight away. Keeping recordings of them is helpful so that the actual time schedule is left up to the teacher.
Tests are proof of the pudding. These allow the homeschooling teacher to test whether the child has actually learned what was intended. In a school environment, these would come at the end of terms, and the tests assess the child’s need for further education in given topics. If a child is behind in a subject, then the next term schedule should allow extra time for studies in areas that are weak, but the holiday is essential. Children who work within a structure knowing what are term times, class times and break times respond better than those whose classes are not well structured and in circumstances where they are permitted too much freedom to do what they want, rather than what their teacher needs them to be doing.
Include the child in the planning. Let them see what they have to look forward to. Getting their school things bought during the holidays allows the parent to use this time as a joint time for teacher/student interaction in a very positive way. That schedule which includes holidays is a more complete one than a schedule which is unclear and undefined. It helps to keep the education on track, but it isn’t just the education that counts. The child and parent can work toward goals which are clear and the holidays are their reward for keeping to that schedule, and a time for a child to learn what childhood outside the schooling environment is all about. If a separate area within the home is defined as the classroom and is only used for this, closing the door for the holidays is a step toward creating harmony and balance in both the child’s and parent’s life.