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At home

Creating a bit of me-time, dealing with household chores and coping with illness are just three aspects of life which have to be carefully juggled around home schooling to enable the smooth running of a house and ensure some sort of balance to family life.

We've been home-schooling Finlay and Isla since they were seven and five. Now, at 10 and 8, things have become much easier. In the beginning, I didn't feel as if I got much genuine me-time. Discipline was still a major part of my day; arnica and hugs were often in high demand, as were huddling up together reading stories or playing games.

These aspects haven't ceased to exist, but the relative independence of both children means they are often engaged in activities in a more self-directed way, and although I am still nurse and policewoman, I do these two jobs on much more of a part-time basis.

One major change has been their enthusiasm for reading, which means we could easily have several hours a day of peace. I had read about this, regarding home-schooling families, but didn't quite believe it could happen to us.

One key is to use such opportunities to take time to myself, do quiet housework tasks, mark work or plan what we might do next.

I also see the children's own involvement in housework as an important part of their education. I try to give them chores appropriate to their age and ability. They are learning to iron, clean, set the fire, etc and I hope that they grow up to have these and other skills and learn to take responsibility for the worlds they will create when they are older.

There is no doubt that when one or more of us is ill, achieving what we had hoped to achieve very rarely happens. A real test of my home-schooling convictions came recently when I was struck by a virus, which left me weak for a number of months. "Carp diem!", one of my life mottos, became a daily challenge with regard to inspiring the children and overseeing their work.

As we attempted to forge ahead, Finlay and Isla, to their credit, were fantastic. They brought me food, tried their best and we really did grow closer as a family.

I guess what I've learnt from all this is that if you see home schooling as apart from life, it will be stressful and jarring. Seen meshed together, it is an education of life itself.

Flora Dunnett is a trained primary, TEFL and Rudolf Steiner teacher. She home-schools her two children in the Borders.

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