Structured and Semi-Structured
Some families find that a structured or semi-structured approach works best for their family’s lifestyle. They may set out this way right from the beginning of Home Education, or they may try out a number of other ways first before coming to it. They may start out that way, drift away to a less structured style, but eventually come back to it as it was the most successful for them.
There are many reasons a family may choose to include more structure in their day than others. Perhaps both parents work shifts, or one works days and one works evenings. Perhaps one works from home, and that parent is the one carrying out the majority of the educational provision, so a structure needs to be in place to ensure everything can be fitted into the day. Sometimes it is the child who needs the structure to enable them to feel comfortable (this is often the case with children on the autistic spectrum who feel uneasy if they do not have a clear plan of what to expect from their day).
“Structure” can refer to the eduational style, the layout of the day, or both. Examples of these are:
Family A : Have a structured educational plan. They have a timetable and there are set lessons, with content delivered by the parents and/or a bought curriculum. They have a term planner, with weekly lessons and lesson plans, and progress records. They may mark the children’s work and set homework for them to complete.
Family B : Have a timetable which sets out what will be happening and when. However, when the children are learning it may say “project work” or “online learning” and the children are free to do what they are currently working on as a project or continue with work on a website (for example Reading Eggs or Khan Academy). Other things on the timetable may include “free play” or “picnic at the park”.
Family C : Do not have a timetable. Work is set by the parents or they are working through a bought curriculum, but the children decide when they will do the work they have been set.
None of these is either right or wrong. Every family is different, and they must do what works best for them. There is no legal requirement to follow the school day, terms or holidays, and so if they do not work for your family, do something else!
Arguably the greatest thing about Home Education is its flexibility. It gives each family complete control and the ability to change things as required as time goes on.
They may choose to carry out the majority of the children’s learning in the afternoon and evening, having made the most of the peace afforded them earlier in the day when out and about. If they are naturally early risers, they may get the majority of the learning done early in the day and have the rest of the day to do as they please.
The only thing that matters in your choice as to how much structure to build into your day is that it works for you and your children, and makes your lives easier to manage rather than being something you feel you have to adhere to regardless of whether it is working well for the whole family.