What are the main things to think about when addressing workload?
In our view, there are three main things to consider:
· How many subjects should you do each day?
· How much (if any) homework should you assign?
· Should you demand your kids pursue extra-curricular activities?
For GCSE and A-Level students, it will be necessary to cover more subjects and more material each day than for younger students. While homeschooling is largely more efficient (see part 10 on scheduling for more details), these courses require a great deal of content to be covered in a fixed and limited time period.
Rather than additional homework, it might be better to complete tasks and assignments through the school day and reserve evenings for review and revision. This will allow GCSE and A-Level students to hone and develop their revision materials and methods throughout the whole year, reducing pressure later on as exam time draws nearer.
Extracurriculars should be encouraged, but it might be better to give your children the space to find their own interests and develop genuine interests in things. Advise them, also, to limit the number of their hobbies, so they can spend more time mastering each one. Colleges and universities always prefer this to the “Jack of all trades” style.
Is it good to apply the course load equally in GCSE and A-Level?
While all the exams for GCSE and A-Level have equal importance in getting desired grades, each student has different experiences in difficulty. You should give more work, practice and study materials in those subjects in which your child is struggling, making them a priority.
If maths is the weak link, then give more assignments in math at first. You can always even the workload later on as the students gain more confidence in the subjects they find difficult.
Further advice for balancing the course load:
1. Include revision as a regular part of the course
GCSE and A-Level students should be encouraged to see revision as a regular part of their studies and not as a cumbersome extra. Show them from early on that small quantities of regular revision, over time, will help them to build genuine recall of material. They’ll never have to rely on short-term cramming, and there’s a good chance that the things they learn will stick with them once school is over.
2. Throw in useful “bonus” classes
There are many things that adults often say they wish they’d been able to learn at school but couldn’t. Homeschooling provides you with a unique opportunity to include these topics as part of your schooling. In this way, not only do your kids pass their GCSEs and A-Levels, but they also learn practical life skills. Here are some ideas on “bonus” courses:
Personal finance – managing credit cards; types of bank accounts; investing money; saving money; how pensions work; creating daily budgets; how to start a business; how taxes work, and more
Physical health knowledge – creating a healthy, balanced diet; home cookery; safe and effective exercise; sex education; avoiding risk-taking behaviour
Mental health – coping with failure; dealing with stress; handling dilemmas and tough situations; how to keep yourself happy etc.
Digital literacy – coding; web design; engineering; robotics, and more
Home maintenance – changing fuses in plugs; basic home repairs; housekeeping; childcare; paying utility bills and rent etc.
3. Create a balanced and holistic experience
Finally, you should never forget that education is a collection of valuable experiences, not just facts and figures memorized in time for an exam, not just grades on a sheet of paper. When you homeschool, you have the perfect opportunity to set up learning experiences that your child will not only find useful in the short term for essential exams but also cherish and use in the long term.
Don’t miss the tenth and final part of our homeschooling series in which we look more closely at how to schedule all the content we mention above, especially for GCSE and A-Level students. Don’t forget to catch up on the other parts of our series, which has explored budgeting, courses, exam boards, exam centres and much more.