“Hats off to teachers” mum from Essex shares what she’s learned after three years of home-schooling

PUBLISHED: 15:32 08 April 2020

Home-schooler Cara Rosendale with daughter Eleanor and son Cooper

Home-schooler Cara Rosendale with daughter Eleanor and son Cooper

Archant

“You need to find the rhythm of your own household and your children. Some kids thrive on routine, for others it’s no good to them. You have to find what suits your family. Don’t look at what anyone else is doing.”

Home-schooler Cara Rosendale with daughter Eleanor and son CooperHome-schooler Cara Rosendale with daughter Eleanor and son Cooper

They have painted a black board in their garden for drawing treasure maps. The Rosendale family have been home schooling for three years. What can we learn from this class act?

Mum Cara, who grew up in White Roding in Essex, was home schooled herself.

Her advice to parents who have suddenly had a mortar board placed on their heads is: Don’t try to copy school.”

Cara, who is both mum and teacher to Cooper aged six and Eleanor, four, says that education in school and at home are two separate things.

“You need to find the rhythm of your own household and your children. Some kids thrive on routine, for others it’s no good to them. You have to find what suits your family. Don’t look at what anyone else is doing.”

Cara uses Twinkl, an online resource used by teachers and home educators - and currently free to parents suddenly faced with home schooling.

She says: “It’s an amazing asset and has links to national curriculum worksheets and PowerPoints on any subject, any level.”

Cara, 34, says: “Hats off to teachers. They do a difficult job. “The important thing for home schooling is to be flexible. We all have bad days when we can’t focus and our brains don’t seem to work. A teacher can’t stop a class because one child isn’t responding.”

“But at home, on those days, there’s no point in forcing someone to tackle a whole page of maths. So we’d shelve the maths and get out of the house, go in the garden, do something different. We’ll come back to the maths when the children are more receptive.

“You have to know when they have had enough and need a change of pace.”

Cooper has been home-schooled since he was three. Cara said: “We started a year before he would have started school because I wanted a year to work it out, to see if I could do it.

“I was home-schooled from secondary school.

“My older brother was dyslexic and really struggled, so my dad took him out of school and started teaching him himself - and I got jealous.

“I knew it could be done but things are very different now because more people are doing it.

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“Now, we could spend the entire week going out on trips. (Pre-lockdown).

“It’s gorgeous, it’s a really lovely community.”

So what is the daily curriculum in the Rosendale household?

“It’s semi-structured. We follow the National Curriculum but not rigidly. If the children want to learn about something else, we’ll do that. If they want to know about sunsets, we’ll get the globe out and talk about that.

“We do our sitting down at home learning maths, English and spelling but there are groups we join for sport, gynmnastics, and science groups. We have a forest group where we learn about nature, hibernation, clouds, wind and rain.

“We’ve learned about the Great Fire of London and been on trips to Pudding Lane and the Thames.”

And there is art, the children have recently been learning about the Russian artist Wassily Kadinsky, the first abstract artist.

“He was thinking about how people reacted to colour rather than form. We learned about his circles and Cooper did his own version.”

Parents can measure their home-schooled children’s progress with apps that tell how the child is coping with a subject, learning, getting there or if they have mastered it.

Cooper and Eleanor are used to working through other children’s school holidays.

The Rosendales, including dad, Alec who is a plumber, take their breaks at different times. Home-schoolers can go away in term time. Though Cara says they “slow down” in the conventional holidays, so they can meet friends who go to school.

She recognises how difficult it is now for children used to being in an establishment.

“It is so confusing. The whole world is reduced. I think it’s important to make sure children keep up their connections with friends. They are use to a constant busyness and they are without their normal social interaction and it’s difficult if parents have to work as well.”

People say to Cara: I couldn’t do that. How do you spend all day with the children? and When do you get time off?

She says: “If you can’t teach something, you will find someone who can. What I am doing is facilitating a child’s learning.”

“I am zealous about my own time. They go to bed at seven. ....and I like spending time with my children.”


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