I have been a home educating mum for just over a year now, and as I am a member of various groups I tend to see questions on a fairly regular basis asking for advice about the things people *need* for their children. It’s usually people asking for recommendations on games and resources. But it made me wonder last week about what would I people consider to be the essentials for me and other parents who are choosing to educate children at home.
Patience and creativity
One of the things that you need in buckets is patience – nothing will frustrate you more when your child(ren) just can’t grasp an idea or a concept, or simply doesn’t want to do a piece of work. It requires you to think of different ways of doing things, as well as being creative about the ways in which you introduce new ideas and concepts. I have really struggled with maths for Daniel, but with a bit of patience, we seem to have made some good progress recently.
What do I recommend? Pinterest is the obvious suggestion but I personally really like Instagram. I follow home educators with similar age children and look to them for ideas. Also speaking and being open with friends about what does and doesn’t work for them.
I find myself joining so many groups and events it can be hard to keep track of everything we are doing. I like to have at least one full day free of commitments each week so that we can factor in museum visits or meet-ups with friends and this works well for us. I also like to see where the natural gaps are in our week so I can plan in some of our project work and make sure we are covering some of the other core basics. The children also like to see where the commitments are in the week and we agree each morning when we will get the maths and English work done, and what things they would like to do. This last couple of days has been about spending time with me, helping them to do jigsaws or Lego, so it’s nice to make sure we protect that time for them.
What diary do I recommend? I have a basic A4 academic diary from the pound shop that I use for planning purposes and noting what we do day to day and a ‘prettier’ smaller diary that I treated myself to last year. I like the ones illustrated by Matt Sewell.
I spend a lot of time waiting about in parks and the such when the children play and explore. I’ve learnt over the years that layering my clothes is the way to go and I am never seen without a fleece underneath my coat! I was asked to try out a women’s fleece recently from Blacks and I have to say I’m really impressed. I have a few branded fleeces, but this one I have been reviewing is priced a little higher than I would usually buy, but that said it’s much better quality. It’s less bulky than some others that I have but this does not, in any way, diminish the quality and it certainly keeps me very warm. I wear it over a basic t-shirt and underneath my waterproof jacket. On those days when we have had a rare last blast of autumnal sunshine, I have been able to leave the waterproof jacket in the car and just have this.
What do I recommend? I have a collection of short and long sleeved t-shirts from Gap and TU. I really like the Women’s North Face Fleece that I am pictured in above as it’s not too bulky so I can fold it away into my bag if I get too warm but also keeps me nice and warm on those colder days.
A strong backpack
It’s not uncommon to be out for much of the day, and that means that I need drinks, snacks and things to help keep them entertained if they are waiting for one of their siblings. Daniel and Emma know that at Harry’s things they need to pack a book or activity to do, and I always make sure when Harry is waiting that we have books and colouring things to hand. I use our ToTs changing bag backpack, even though it’s no longer used for nappies. It has stacks of space and it’s comfortable for me to carry around for a few hours. I can pack enough picnic and drinks things in for the four of us (five if Damian joining us) as well as a few other bits and pieces.
What do I recommend? I have yet to find a backpack which is as roomy or as comfortable to carry around as the Tots Infinity changing bag (I wrote about this in a previous post). It doesn’t look like a changing bag and it’s lasted amazingly well over the 2.5 years use it has had.
Gloves and a flask
I would be lost in the colder months without a good pair of gloves and a hot drink! I have the Klean Kanteen insulated cafe cups that I take our with hot chocolate or coffee in, and it really does make a difference. I spend a lot of time waiting for the children at groups, and it can be really tempting to just get a coffee or something from a vending machine, but then those costs soon start adding up. Plus, in many of the parks there simply isn’t anywhere to get a hot drink from! Gloves are also much needed to protect my hands as I really do notice that my skin dries out terribly when it gets cold. Blacks sent me some women’s gloves to try out and I was really impressed as they’re e-tip ones which means I can still use my touch screen phone with them.
I was a little sceptical if I’m honest about how effective they would work and I thought that I would just, in reality, end up taking the gloves off to use my phone. But, they are really good and I’ve been able to use my phone fine whilst wearing the gloves, tapping out emails and taking photos etc and even managing to get some snaps on bonfire night as shown above! They’re really excellent and of course, have helped to protect my hands from getting too cold. It’s well worth checking out the women’s North Face accessories range, which these gloves are a part of.
What do I recommend? We have a couple of Klean Kanteen flasks from Babipur and I really recommend these. I also suggest taking a look at Millets for women’s accessories such as hat scarves and gloves. I really like the North Face stuff (and it’s the North Face e-tip gloves in the image below). They’re a real quality item and the etip technology is superb – a real bonus in the cooler weather. It’s well worth checking out the North Face accessories for these gloves.
Finally, a camera will help you capture those moments you want to remember. Those moments of fun and exploration – those moments when your children suddenly understand a concept or capturing those moments when you see them in quiet contemplation, reading about a topic you’ve introduced them to. Or when they’re climbing up trees, paddling in streams or just generally exploring. Each month I look back at my pictures and it makes me realise just how much we have done, and how much they are learning.
What do I recommend? I really think it’s worth investing in a good camera. I have the Pixel 2XL mobile and predominantly use the camera on that as it’s much better than my actual camera now. Prior to upgrading my phone, I was looking into replacing my camera and it would be worth reading a range of reviews based on your budget.
What other things would you consider to be essential for home educating parents?
Please be aware that the gloves and fleece included in this post were sent by Blacks in return for our opinion on the products featured from their range. All thoughts and opinions are my own.