We have had our fair share of crises in the 16+ years we have been home educating, and the last few years seem to have been just one crisis after another.
In mid-February we received notice of eviction because our landlord had decided to sell the house we were renting. This is perfectly legal in the UK for tenants who have done nothing wrong, providing a minimum of two months’ notice is given, leaving tenants at the mercy of their landlords’ whims.
It is actually our 6th house move in 4 years, including one previous eviction because the landlord wanted to move in to the house himself, and another time being flooded out and temporarily re-housed. Hopefully this time we will be settled for a nice long time.
These last 4 difficult years also followed hard on the heels of a run of miscarriages and three family deaths including my Dad’s, so we have had a lot of experience in all sorts of crisis!
For most people, this kind of extreme and repetitive season of crisis is not likely, but all of us will face some kind of crisis at some point.
How do you ensure that the children don’t miss out on education during a crisis, and in the case of moving house, when your primary educational setting is in chaos?
I remember attending a seminar at The Home Service (now Christian Home Education Support Service) Conference at Cefn Lea in Wales one year, so I’ll list what I can remember from that as well as to add some of my own ideas.
1) As a home educator, you’re not tied to a class room, or living room – the world is your classroom, so if your house is upside-down, get out and learn elsewhere – outside, at the museum, at the park, at the beach, with friends, even at the market – be inventive with simple educational field trips and remember that they are learning all the time!
2) Prioritise – work out what is most important: perhaps you can’t cover all the subjects you would want to, so what can you lay down for a time, and what do you absolutely want to keep doing? (We pretty much laid everything down this time except literature, and took advantage of audio-books when our books got packed away.)
3) Know that the way we cope with a crisis is educational in itself – some of us are naturally better than others in a crisis situation, but I think I can fairly say I have become an expert! ;P Patience, calm and serenity, I have learnt, are like muscles – the more you exercise them, the more you find the ability is there, and the lessons of coping, improvising, making do and mending are all good for children to learn.
4) Know that this is just a season, and this too will pass. Even in extended periods of uncertainty, there will come a day when normality returns, and when it does, the long dark tunnel won’t have been a waste of time (see above), and you will appreciate normality when it returns. It may even be a while before it begins to feel like mundane drudgery again! (I have learned to take care about inviting too much adventure in to my life now!)
5) Find your Rock: It has been said that parenting is character-building, and home education even more so, and of course it goes without saying that working through hard times is part and parcel of that character formation. But for me, it has forced me to dig deep down into my faith foundation. At the seminar, prayer and reliance on God was the number one recommendation. Some of us though have to learn the hard way, and this has tended to be my last resort rather than my first thought.
I hope that’s helpful and not overly obvious. If you have gone through or are currently going through difficult times and home educating through them, I would love to hear from you.