Homeschooling- The new normal for all???

I just wanted to hop on here and offer some encouragement for you during this time of "homeschooling" for all.

First, let me say that this is not homeschooling. We don't stay sequestered in our homes with no contact with the world around us. We go out. We have field trips, co-ops, friend meet ups, sports, music, art- all outside of our home and all with other people! So, this is hard for us, too. Even though the schooling at home part is not new to us, the being quarantined and without our friends and activities is. This is hard for us all!

Second, here are some tips, ideas and words of encouragement from me- a former public school classroom teacher and a homeschooling mom of 9 years.

1. Don't try to replicate what they do at school. Schooling at home cannot and does not look like schooling at school. If you try to do that, everyone will be miserable, including you. If you have an elementary aged child, school should not last more than the morning. We are done most days by lunch, not becuase we do less work, but because when you only have one or two students (or 4!), it just doesn't take as long to finish an assignment.

2. Relax. Everyone is in the same boat. Stop worrying about them falling behind or not keeping up. Just do the best you can. They will be fine! It's more important to see this as a time to invest in your kids in a way you couldn't do before.

3. Have several kids? Don't try to help them all at once. That's really hard. I have a 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th grader..... I can't teach them all at one time when they are on such different levels! I have some working on independent work, while I sit down and help others. Everyone is schooling, but not everyone is needing mom at the same time.

4. BUT do try to do things together! Be creative. School does not have to look like only paper and pencil (or computer) tasks. Read aloud together- read through a chapter book during this time! That IS edcuation! Start the Harry Potter series. Or the Chronicles of Narnia. Or the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. If you don't like to read aloud, use an audio book. Everyone can snuggle up and listen together. Watch documentaries together. Check out YouTube for vidoes for kids on certain topics. Again, snuggle up and watch them together. Go outside when the weather is nice- take a walk, read outside, be together. This IS education. They don't have to write a reflection afterwards, or answer comprehension questions for it to be education. Just the experience is part of learning. It is adding another brick to this person you are helping to build.

5. Also working from home while you try to homeschool? Me too! I work part time and homeschool. It's not easy, for sure. But it's possible. I try to set aside a few hours where I am wholey dedicated to homeschooling- focused on helping my kids learn and investing in them. This is usually 8:30 am-Noon each day. Before 8:30 am and afternoon and sometimes in the evening if necessary, that's when I can get work done. It's not set in stone.... sometimes a kid is having a hard day and we need to keep working past noon. Other days, they fly right through and we're done by 11. Be flexible even within your schedule.

6. Use stations to keep your kids busy while you get things done. We use this alot when the weather is bad. Create centers or stations that they can rotate through- art, music, Legos, reading, puzzles, board games, screen time etc.... spend 30 minutes at a station and then rotate to the next. If my kids are getting along, they might all be together and everyone is doing the same things. If they are getting on each other's nerves, then I split them up and everyone is at a different station. This keeps them busy for up to 2 hours! Set a 30 minute timer and let them go for it.

7. Use this time to teach other skills. Can I tell you how many college guys don't know how to do laundry? Or make their own meal? So many. Teach your kids how to do their own laundry. They might not think it's fun- who does think laundry is fun?!?!- but it's an important life skill. My kids wash, dry, fold and put away their own laundry each week. Is it perfect? Hardly. But their learning this skill. They know how to use a washing machine and dryer, how to pre-treat stains, and even how to fold the Marie Kondo way. Teach them how to cook. Force them to make their own lunch. Let them make dinner one night.

8. Sleep in! I cannot stress this enough. If your kids are old enough to sleep in past 7, let them! Within reason. We can't sleep until noon and still be productive, but they can sleep until 8:30 or 9. There's a sense to which this quarantine is a forced rest. Let them rest.

9. Use music if your kids are musical. I have started letting mine wear headphones and listen to music while they work. This has been great for them. It keeps them from getting distracted by each other. Some of them can listen to any music and still concentrate on work. Others have to listen to classical or instrumental music while they work because they starting singing otherwise. This may not work for everyone, but's it's been a good way for my kids to keep focused on the work before them. 

10. Try to enjoy this time as much as you can. It's hard. Yes, it is. I told Jack last night, there's a reason most vacations last a week. Now that we're over a week in, these people are getting on my nerves! We didn't choose this quarntine or this virus. But we can choose joy. Try to enjoy the moments that you can. Embrace this forced family fun. For the first time in a long time, the family is again the center of life. There are no other activities, experiences, people or places to be. So, as best as you can, embrace it. My personal social feed is usually filled with only happy and positive posts. I don't do this to try to create an image that our life is perfect. I just don't feel the need to complain or "be real" on social media about things. There's nothing wrong if you do share complaints or struggles, certainly. But my posts are really for me more than they are for anyone else. They are a moment in time to remind myself of all the good, all the blessings around me. And when the memories of those posts pop up, I am again reminded of this. So, snap a picture of a happy moment each day- and post it or don't post it- but either way remind yourself that this is good and that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light (Dumbledore).


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