As I noted in my previous blog, Home-Schooling an Academics Diary, I am an academic at The Open University. I am also a father to 3 children aged 14, 12 and 7 and in the very fortunate position that my wife is also an academic.
One of the areas we found quite challenging is that our youngest child requires much more direction when it comes to structuring her home-schooling day. She would often refuse to do any mental maths or even do some reading. In her defence I would refuse to mental maths, where it was possible
We thought that providing a clear structure for her day would make life easier for her but outside the school context somehow, it just didn’t seem to work. So, we applied the Einstein maxim that insanity (at least in relation to how we home schooled our daughter) was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. We wanted our daughter to engage in the learning, so we took a slightly different approach and introduced a game called ‘raffle your time’.
In this game we left the choice of topic our daughter would study, to chance. We used some polystyrene egg shapes and using a biro noted a different topic in each one. Then:
- We placed the topic choices in a small plastic bowl and asked our daughter to close her eyes and choose an egg.
- The agreement was that whatever came out of the bowl as a choice would be the topic that was studied.
- Once that topic was chosen it was then removed from the bowl that day.
After completing the task associated with the topic e.g. arts and craft our daughter would take a break and we would repeat the process 1-3, above.
So far, so good. The random nature of the choices seems to have helped remove the ‘dread’ or reluctance our daughter felt and left the choices of learning to chance and not the product of the school of Mum and Dad. This is easily repeated using pieces of paper that are folded over so your child can’t see the writing.
If you would like to learn more about structuring children’s education you can find out more on the OpenLearn course Exploring children’s learning