It will be one week tomorrow since all schools in Spain closed. Schools in Ireland closed the day before and, as I write, schools in the UK are preparing to close tomorrow. I know we’re expected to say we’re bored and fed up and can’t wait for things to get back to normal. But actually, here in my house, we’re having quite a good time. (Am I allowed to say that?) It dawned on me that there are three reasons why we’re doing alright: 1. My daughters were home educated in the past; 2. We lived for six years in the confined space of a 36 foot yacht; and 3. I work from home.
I’ve thought long and hard about whether to blog about life in social isolation. Goodness knows, there is nothing but Corona virus news on every social media platform you turn to. Do I want to add to this relentless and overwhelming mass of information (and misinformation), and people sharing their personal stories?
However, over the past week, a number of friends and family members in far-flung corners of the planet have asked for my advice on home schooling. At the moment, like many others, I am home educating while working from home under conditions of social isolation.
Even though I no longer home educate my daughters (or do I?), I still give the subject a lot of thought. Apart from chocolate, sex and spaghetti bolognaise (not necessarily in that order, and not usually at the same time), education is the thing I think about most. I wrote an anthropology Masters on the subject, and a PhD on the passing on and sharing of environmental knowledge and skill between and across generations (i.e. informal education). This past Christmas, I wrapped Tim Ingold’s Anthropology and/as Education in Christmas wrapping paper and placed it under the tree for myself. That’s how much I love thinking about education. And, although I don’t have as much experience as many home educators who’ve seen their children through from babies until they left for university, I have been through the trials, tribulations and joys of home educating my girls, and what I learned from those years continues to inform how we learn together today, how we approach their school work, and how we think about learning and education in general.
I’ve also worked from home for the past number of years. I’m a freelance editor and writer, and my working life is spent at home, alone, in front of my laptop. Over the years, I’ve also learned by trial and error what works and doesn’t work for me, which practices improve my productivity (and which sound the death knell for productivity), and how to ensure a good work-life balance. What works for me may not work for others, but I have some thoughts and ideas that might be helpful, especially if you’re mixing work and education at home.
Finally, we lived on a boat for six years, so sharing a confined space with my family, while working and getting on with the daily tasks of life, is no news to me.
Therefore, starting from tomorrow, I’m going to write a series of short blog posts with tips about home educating, working from home, and caring for your own and your family’s mental and physical health at this challenging time. These will be based on my own experiences over the years, the experiences of others, and what’s working and not working for my family right now. Of course, what works for me may not work for you, but it might provide you with some food for thought.
If you want to get involved with questions, suggestions for posts, or feedback, then I’d love to hear from you.
I’ll start tomorrow with some basic thoughts and best practices for home education. Hope to see you then.