I know we are all a little tired of hearing from people who think they know everything about some aspect of this virus. I really don’t want to come across as one of those people. In fact, in my desire to not sound like one of those know-it-alls, I almost didn’t write this post. I don’t believe I am better equipped to handle the effects of this mess than anyone else.
However, I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom for many years now. Like, if this were a court of law and an attorney called an expert witness to testify about their job as a stay at home parent? I could do it. My mixed emotions about that are for another post, but all that to say- maybe I do have something to offer here. If being at home, handling the educational needs of your children isn’t your area of expertise, maybe I can help. If one person breathes a little bit easier and believes they can get through this, then I’m glad I added my voice to the sea of voices out there.
So I’m going to share five essential elements of our homeschooling days. Hopefully, you find something practical that will help your days run a little more smoothly.
General Daily Routine
There are a few colorful schedules I’ve seen floating around social media. A few years ago, I would have had a good laugh about them. Who needs or wants a schedule? My type-B self would much rather go with the flow, allowing our feelings and interests dictate the direction of our days. That approach isn’t wrong, but as the needs of my family changed, my time management style had to adapt as well. The truth is, when we all know what is happening, and when it is supposed to happen, our days tend to go more smoothly. During this time when you’ve been thrown into this with little warning or preparation, there is room for either approach. Days spent reading, watching movies, and supporting your child emotionally is time well spent. But if you are ready to move on to a more structured day, a general routine is something to consider. We call ours our “Family Rhythm,” and it hangs in plain view. If you’re finding this idea appealing yet overwhelming, just start with a short morning routine. What are 3 things you’d like to have done before lunch? Start there.
The natural graduation after nap time in our family is quiet time. Everyone goes to a quiet spot in the house and engages in a quiet activity. They usually choose to read, play Legos, draw, or listen to audiobooks. This time for us is completely screen-free, but we know families who use it as a time their kids can play on educational apps and that works well for them. This time is as much for me as it is for them. I’d love to say I clean or do something productive during that time, but I’d be lying.
I don’t know if it’s because my kids are all age 10 and under, but they need to move, constantly. One of our favorite websites to utilize is Gonoodle.com, but you could also just put on some music and dance. Our math drills usually include karate kicks and our memory work sometimes becomes a giant game of tag. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself wondering what is going on with my kids’ behavior, only to realize they haven’t been able to let out their energy sufficiently.
Whether or not you have school work coming home, you’ve likely already learned a secret: school at home does not take as long as it does school. What takes kids all day to do at school, may take just a couple of hours at home. One on one instruction allows for that faster progression. Don’t succumb to the pressure to add more worksheets so your child is sitting for the entire day. This extra time is a gift you can use to explore other interests, together.
There are some things that keep getting overlooked in all of the “advice from homeschoolers” posts out there.
- You did not choose this
- You did not have a chance to prepare for this
- This was unexpected
- You and your child are managing a variety of difficult emotions, in addition to a change in atmosphere
- You might have the added responsibility of working your regular job from home
COVID-19 just threw you into the pool of home education, and the water is freezing. Take the time to adjust, and give yourself and your children grace as you do. Expecting days that look like those who have been doing this for years will likely end in frustration and disappointment. Survival mode right now is a very real and valid approach. If you’re ready to build on survival mode, hopefully these ideas will be helpful. The important thing is to stay safe, and take care of each other the best way we know how.