In recent weeks, several schools have come to closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to limit exposure and reduce the spread of the virus, many parents have found that they are now “have to” homeschoolers.
I began homeschooling two years ago- pulling my 1st grader, 3rd grader, and 5th grader out of public school and into a one-room school house model at our kitchen table. At the time, my youngest was also 3 years old- and nothing makes for more fun than a toddler at teaching time. But, in spite of the obstacles, I have found that this style of schooling is for us. We love the freedom and flexibility we have in terms of curriculum choices, tailoring the learning style to each child, and honestly- skipping the rushed morning routine of public schooling (We don’t even get out of bed before 8:30 am.)
Many times, when I share about our homeschooling approach to education, there are three primary objections that most people respond with. They are all valid responses, and all of them I had to spend a great deal of time sifting through as I worked my way towards our own homeschooling decisions. As we unpacked what it would mean to homeschool, these were the things running through my mind- and I’m sure they are flashing in neon signs for you too.
“I totally don’t have the patience for that.”
This response is rooted in the fact that there will be hard days- when we would have to exercise patience. The kids won’t want to do their work well or they may be overtired. We also know that on these particular days, we won’t get a break.
How to deal: Make sure that you have a plan in place to find small moments of rest. I get up a little early, before the kids, so that I get one hot cup of coffee before the mayhem ensues. I communicate an expectation to the kids that there will be moments throughout the day that I expect them to give me a moment (or two) of quiet. Know that it is imperative to make time for you- even asking your spouse to pick up some slack when they get home on a stressful day.
“I need some time away.”
Having kids in school for a length of time during the day does provide some much-needed respite. Having school age kids means action-packed days and, sometimes, some stress. They are energetic, loud, and not always willing to listen.
How to deal: Self-care will be really important in the coming weeks. You, and your spouse, will need to be in tune with what your actual needs are. Do you need a nap or an extra cup of coffee? Will you want to get off on your own, or nestle into a good book for an hour at night? Be aware of what you need and ask for it.
“I don’t even know where to start.”
Should we have a schedule? Or so we “wing it?” Should we Pinterest overload and plan a daily science experiment? Do I fill every moment with activity? These questions can cause anxiety and make us feel like we are set up to fail.
How to deal: Make sure to have a schedule, or a communicated expectation for the day. For instance, at our house, we get up around 8:30, get our morning chores done, and then start school at 10:00 am. We school from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, with lunch at noon. Then, I keep office hours from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm- until my husband gets home.
Here’s a sample schedule.
- We wake up around 8:30 AM.
- We get dressed, do our morning chores, and I hide with a hot cup of coffee until 9:30 AM.
- We meet at the kitchen table around 10:00 AM and complete about 40 minutes of Math (We do math first, because none of us are particularly fond of it).
- Then, we spend 20 minutes reading quietly.
- At 11:00 AM, we start Language Arts for 40 minutes.
- We grab another 20 minutes of individual reading before lunch at noon.
- After lunch, my older kids work on Latin, History, Geography, and a weekly Science lesson until 2:00 PM.
We found our groove, and we stick to it.
Here’s a last little piece of advice from homeschool mom of kids with multiple ages and stages.
- Keep your expectations of yourself in a reasonable place.
- You don’t have to do it all, nor does the world rest upon your shoulders.
- Try to get a little bit done over nothing at all.
- There is no perfect pace, and how you educate your kiddos is not a race against time.
You are up against a few challenges, in that children don’t learn well in upheaval or in transition. The circumstances around COVID-19 creates both, so make sure that you are giving yourself and your kiddos a substantial amount of grace.