Peterborough charity offers free online classes giving advice to parents on homeschooling

Katie Howard
Katie Howard

The classes are being put on by trustees of Paston Farm Community Foundation and primarily run by local teacher and mother Katie Howard.

The charity usually operates out of an old farm which was developed into a former Children’s Centre and they provide services and support in response to the local community’s needs and has space for hire to groups, fostering good relations and cohesion in the community in the process.

At the start of lockdown in March, trustees quickly moved support online and helped to combat loneliness and social isolation with crafting sessions, virtual treasure hunts, and story time. They worked in partnership with several other organisations to keep their Community Fridge open, which allowed them to support around 50 families a week and sometimes more.

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Following the announcement of the third national lockdown on Monday (January 4), which brought with it the closure of schools, trustee Caroline Earle realised that all of a sudden hundreds of parents were going to be required to start homeschooling their children, with many perhaps daunted by the prospect.

She then got in touch with Katie, who has been a teacher for 18 years, and asked if she would be prepared to volunteer some of her time to deliver online support to help people with homeschooling.

This led to the start of Katie’s Kitchen School.

The first class is on Wednesday (January 6) at 11am, available via the paston Farm Community Foundation Facebook Page, and will be a drop-in for any questions and general support around homeschooling. Sessions will then go on to include interviews with education professionals, advice on getting the best out homeschooling and any further support requested by parents or carers.

“The main thing is not to panic and with homeschooling it’s a case of suck it and see. One of the challenges is that you can’t expect children to act as they would do at school at home and it’s about trying to offer advice to parents about this.

“I’m a mother myself and I’m in this too and have turned my kitchen table into an office. I’ve had some jobs to do this morning and my child has done some reading and I call that a win. I’ve only had a cheeseburger for breakfast and now I’m going into a science lesson, it’s all about fitting it in with real life. I think if your child is safe and loved you’re already a winner.

“I want the group to be an open forum and a safe space. It might be weekly or daily, it’s still an evolving idea. It’s important to give parents the support they need. Some will be asked to teach their children things they were never taught themselves. So, for example, if a group of people say that they’re trying to teach long multiplication but they’re struggling themselves, I’ll give some tips around that.

“I have experience with all kinds of teaching, primary, secondary SEN (Special educational needs) aswell as is in the behavioural side so I have some hints and tips to share.”

To find out more and access the sessions, click here.

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