Taking that first step to Online/Home Learning

 

The human nature, by default, indicates that not every student’s needs are the same. Because of this, more and more families are taking the ‘learn from home’ approach. While some find that choice an easy one to make, others struggle with it. Fear of the unknown tend to restrict them and thus the saying ‘Rather the devil you know than the angel you have not met’ is an accurate indication of mindset.

At minimal, it is a serious commitment that is made to the students and at maximum it is perceived to be mammoth task – some see it as a challenge and others see it as a brick wall that is nearly impossible to overcome. Truth is, it need not be such a daunting decision to make. It only needs a few honest considerations.

So often families are turned away from the home learning environment as many parents in that situation feel that they don’t have enough knowledge to effectively and efficiently take control of their child’s learning. Truth is, that we are perhaps somewhat stuck on the ‘mainstream’ environment of brick and mortar schools that we forget to to look at our children to guide US. We tend to think we have to be brain surgeons ourselves in order to cultivate an environment for our child who has a interest in the subject. THIS is not always true.

It is true that home learning really is not for everyone. Some students simply thrive in the social setting of the mainstream schooling environment. Others however, are desperate to escape what they may deem a ‘prison sentence’.

The very first step when you consider home learning, is to decide if you can commit yourself to the task at hand, regardless of your own educational background. Are you committed to dedicate yourself to education, and perhaps even gain a new possible education for yourself while you are at it? It is no secret that education is an ongoing process, and the real hard work is staying motivated yourself in order to keep your child motivated. There are no ‘easy ways to educate’ – and you have to consider the time, support, dedication, commitment and communication means available to you.

Once you have that sorted in your mind, the next step would be to assess your child’s needs.

How old is your child? This is a big matter to consider as the younger ones need a different focus point to that of the older children. Not only is that a big difference, but you also need a different energy level to make sure that you provide your absolute best. Things like social interaction, body changes, sex education, activity levels etc. should be on your list of possible focus points in this assessment.

What personality type does your child have? Some children have more energy than others. Some have more tactile needs than others. It should be part of your consideration when you decide to take the home learning route. This will give you a clear indication to establish the best way forward and help you choose between structured or unstructured lessons and most of all: It gives you a way to establish whether YOUR personality type actually match that of what your child need. Keep in mind that there are so many support groups, approaches and resources. SHOULD you find yourself less than compatible with your child’s needs, it does not mean it is the end of the road with regards to the possibility of home learning. It only mean that you have to consider your approach and find a balance.

Reason for considering home learning: This plays a big role in your approach and decision too. It is important to evaluate clearly why you are considering the option of removing your child from mainstream schooling.Not only will this help you in finding the right medium to proceed, but it will also give you a chance to help your child understanding why the big change was made.

There are many influences that lead us down this path which may include (but is not limited to) bullying, mental or physical disability, general lack of education, safety, travel and transport etc.

Ultimately the goal is to provide your child the best education you can, and thus your goals and achievements will be greatly influenced by these factors. This decision is never made lightly, and shouldn’t be made lightly either. If your child is perfectly happy in their current learning environment (mainstream) then perhaps you should look into alternative measures to keep it that way.

The next step in your decision making is to evaluate your approach. Once you have established exactly what your child need and why, then it is time to start planning on how you are going to achieve this. Sometimes breaking things up in little bits of information change the perspective of the whole task.

Structured vs Unstructured: This is as much for you as for your child. If you are not the kind of person who can stay motivated under a strictly structured regime, but your child is- it may be the better option to enrol your child in an online/virtual school such as Academus Learning, or enlist the help of tutor, mentor or social group to help you stay focussed and motivated.

If you prefer the structured environment but your child prefer the ‘unstructured’ method of learning, then you may have to consider a balance between the two and consider play groups, study groups and find a balance. You may even consider investing in official courses through the likes of Oxford Home schooling, which will give you just enough structure to reach your goals, but allow you to have flexible input and support.

Planning, Timing and Goals: Let’s face it, not all of us are planners while others are completely lost without a plan. Neither of these are ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ marks when you are considering home learning. It simply mean that you have to set clear, realistic and reachable goals, and allocate enough time to reach them.
Tools & Resources:  After a bit of investigation it became clear that many parents are interested in home learning as an option but they are terrified of ‘lacking’ in resources. You may want to consider a creative look at the resources already available to you. Anything from family members, the internet, library and even local authorities are at your full disposal. It helps to make a list of what and who you have on hand. A grandma who knits can easily be asked to teach your child that skill as a ‘craft’. A uncle who’s an accountant may consider providing your child with a ‘Day at the Office’. Alternatively, you have a PC, a great connection to the internet and wish to follow the national curriculum to ensure your child is ‘on par’ with other students their age. GREAT! Online/ Virtual schools accommodate that. Don’t have a PC? The library does and it is free to use by students!

Home learning is all about finding the balance between you and your child’s needs. It is about maximising results and ultimately it is about providing an education to our youth that focus on them becoming successful and passionate individuals. There is an old saying that states: ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ – and that is a very clear validation that if you put your mind to it, home learning can be a great opportunity for you and your child both.

While this document is by no means an ‘expert’ view, nor is it anywhere near complete, we truly hope that it has provided some food for thought to all those who are thinking about home learning, but have not decided on it yet.

If you have ANY further questions, please feel free to leave a comment and we will get back to you as soon as possible. If you wish to find out more about online schooling/ virtual classrooms, Academus Learning will be honoured to take your call and spend as much time as you need in order to answer your questions.

The worst you can do, is do nothing. Take action today. Since you are responsible for your child’s education and ultimately their future, you deserve (as much as they do) an opportunity to have a say and how you live up to that responsibility.

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