In this four-episode podcast series, we had the opportunity to have a candid conversation with the creators of Makeshift Homeschool, the McPhail family. Joseph and his two daughters, Sumay (11) and Aila (8), discuss what drew them to create this self-directed learning program during the pandemic, how they’ve made it work for them, and how other families can benefit from it. 

Listen: Makeshift HomeSchool: How to Inspire Your Family with Self-Directed Learning (Episode 4)

Below are a few highlights from the episode:

Sumay: With Aila’s posts, I just try to...clean things up. My approach to it is to look through it and see what are the things that I should edit. What are the things that I think should be taken out? What are the things that I think could be reworded or elaborated on? And either I will make those edits, or I will ask her what she thinks about those edits and if she can do it.

When it comes to other people's posts, you have to keep in mind that they know more about the subject than you because they did all the research. And there were probably other facts that they know, but haven't shared on their blog posts. I want to help her know the things that are really good about her posts and the things that can be improved on, because I think I've gotten a lot of that. I think that with your writing, feedback can be kind of hard to take. So you want to have it from people you trust when you first start out. That was really helpful for me. And I hope it's really helpful for her.

Aila has always been extremely encouraging of me. And even more than just Makeshift Homeschool. As a student, it's been humbling for me because when Aila learned certain things...I realized I didn't know a lot of the things she put in her blog posts. 

It's not all the time where your little sister teaches you something. When your younger sibling is learning something that you're not learning, then they learn a lot about that subject. It was kind of humbling for me because this is my little sister. I should be teaching her all this stuff, but I realized that I can learn something from everybody because everyone has their own background, has their own circumstances, and has made their way through life at least a little differently than you. 

That has helped me become a better student.

Aila: My sister—one big thing is that she shows me that I can learn from anybody just by learning from me. I really like Sumay as a teacher because she's just really kind and patient with me. And that helps me. Also, if you're doing that to your sister, it helps them to be kind and humble for other people too. With Sumay, she asks me questions, and she'll also make sure I'm paying attention.

Joseph: What we have right now during this lockdown...is the single greatest opportunity that parents have to teach their kids to love learning. And if they can teach their kids to love learning using these tools—you're done. ‘Cause as soon as they're excited about learning, they know that there's so much out there, that they can learn about just using the internet, and you show them to use the tools in a way that is safe and effective. As soon as you can do that and you get them excited, then it's game over because you can't even stop them at that point.

Thank you for the tuning into the conclusion of our Makeshift Homeschool series!

Episode Guide:

Episode 1 - A New Way

Episode 2 - The Child Takes Charge

Episode 3 - Return of the Parent

Episode 4 - Stuffy Awakens