We tend to work during roughly the same hours that schools run; not because we have to but because this works for us. Still, this leaves more hours, at home, not during formal education time than most children will have. These hours are also the time when yes, I could provide more exciting educational opportunities but there are limits to my energy and there is the house to run and food to cook.
So what to do? These are some thoughts and, no, we certainly don't always get it right. Yes, it is easy to let them watch programmes/play games on the computer perhaps not bad, in moderation and controlled but far too easy to let this time become too long and lead to lack of engagement with the rest of the family and lack of physical exercise.
Recently, we have been working on helping the younger children make the most of their free time and this is still a learning process. These are some ways that we are encouraging them to use their time.
- Time outside-we try to go outside most days. We are grateful for parks and outside spaces.
- Classes and groups: swimming, art, church children's meetings.
- Meeting up with friends often combined with running in parks!
- Play-free and unstructured. My home educated children have used toys far more than their school educated siblings, I think, just because there has been more time.
- Some of that play hasn't really involved toys: dens-on or behind sofas, creations out of boxes: we have a Gup-X and a rocket, at present.
- Puzzles: sometimes with some help.
- Board games-these really need my input, for now. Pop to the shops, the Tummy ache game and Junior Scrabble are current favourites.
- Art-one of the children loves to draw and paint.
- Gardening-not so useful at this time of year although Youngest Son did help plant a tree earlier this week.
- Helping with chores. As I've written before, this isn't my forte but I've realised, recently, that often I've asked too much. "Please, clean your room" doesn't work so well as something specific, "Please, put your pajamas under the pillow and pull the duvet straight."