What learning should I be capturing?
If you have registered with the Local Authority they will ask you to show the progress your child is making, either through meeting with you or you sending them information via e-mail. Even if you have not registered, chances are you still want to capture their learning for your own benefit or to share with your children as they grow up.
This was why I created the Collage-app, to securely capture children’s progress through pictures, videos, documents or notes and to be able to chronologically track them at their own pace, against the UK National Curriculum or just against subject areas, if unschooling.
But you could create computer files and load things up to them or have a box/file at home where you put examples of their learning, whatever suits you!
What is classed as suitable learning to capture?
The quick and easy answer is anything. You know your child best and you will see them demonstrating things that they have learnt all the time. The most important thing to consider is that learning doesn’t just happen between the times you timetable it to, it happens all day, every day! It also happens in a whole range of environments and not just at home.
We are, sadly, in a system which only truly values core subjects such as writing, reading, maths, science and information technology. Whilst there is no doubt that these are important skills there are many more important skills to be learnt and valued, such as learning how to live on a daily basis, understanding of the world and how to manage themselves within it, be that financially or mentally.
One of the most amazing things about technology today is that we can now capture these moments instantly on our phones. Being able to store them chronologically in folders enables insight into the progress they are making and helps us to feel reassured. The Collage-app also has a subject folder titled Miscellaneous, this is to enable you to capture things that don’t fit under a subject, for example a moment where your child shows real resilience.
How do you create the opportunities for learning?
If you are thinking of facilitating your child’s learning (or teaching them), you need to consider their learning style. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses, their insecurities and the amount of sustained time they can focus for. This is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling in comparison to school – there is no rule here, it simply depends on where your child is. If you make a child spend an hour every day on maths that’s fine, but question, are they happy? does that interest them? can they stay on task? If the answer is yes, then that is fine but if no, then the chances are they will not take on that information and embed that learning to use later.
I personally have found my children learn best when learning is within a real context, for example, we are catching the local bus, what time does it leave? how long will it take? where will I get off? Turn it into a problem for them to solve, they love being detectives! This is particularly true of writing – write for a purpose: we need a shopping list; making a catalogue of all the lego figures they have made; writing a birthday card; sending your views on something to the local paper; e-mail an author/politician! When it is real we tend to have a deeper sense of what we have learnt.
Maths and English can be grasped through learning about other things, those connections make sense and stay with us. You can opt to follow the National Curriculum but don’t be rigid with it, if you come across something that you think is really not necessary then don’t learn about it or, for example, say your 6 year old is really into space, don’t wait until they are 9 years old (year 5) where the National Curriculum says teach it, learn about it now!
Remember that learning happens everywhere so be prepared to be out and about when you find your child notices something or an opportunity crops up to look at something in more detail. Recently, we were out for a walk and we spotted a strange bug. I always take our little nature handbook with us (I have learnt to do this!) so I challenged my son to see if he could find it, he did, it was a Violet Oil Beetle, he photographed it, read up about it and because it was rare he asked to use my phone to send information about where it had been sighted to a survey team. I reflected on how much learning had taken place: reading; writing; geography and; science. I couldn’t have planned this and would say that even in my days when I was a teacher in the classroom, my best lessons where the ones that I hadn’t planned! No outcome allows for spontaneity and open ended questions.
Have a go, get capturing
Give yourself a time period and see what you can capture, see what areas you’ve covered naturally before deciding on how you will homeschool, you might be surprised.