Let’s face it, we are living in unprecedented times and for most of us, our daily schedule is anything but “normal.” Parents wear many hats. On a day-to-day basis we play the role of a nurse, chef, mediator, and now…. a teacher. Due to COVID-19 and the corresponding school closures, almost overnight many parents have been forced to become an expert in English, math, science, and even P.E.
On-going learning process
There’s no instruction manual for parenting, and you certainly don’t wake up one day and suddenly know all the ins and outs of homeschooling your children. In fact, even for parents who homeschooled their children prior to this pandemic, find it to be an ongoing learning process. Every child has a unique way of learning. They possess a variety of strengths, personalities, and learning styles. This means as a parent, we have to adjust accordingly to support their educational needs—as if life isn’t already stressful enough!
While going to school and working full-time, I took advantage of having the freedom to homeschool my daughter for over eight years. I quickly realized early on that this was not going to be a cakewalk. In fact, I thought about quitting many times. I knew I couldn’t just “checkout” because of frustration. I realized, part of being successful means not “checking out” when times get tough. This homeschooling aspect is new to a lot of parents. I want to be very transparent with you: there will be challenges that you come across while homeschooling, but you have to choose to either fight the challenge or let the challenge defeat you. As parents, we have to learn to shift our mindsets. Instead of focusing on the problem, we should focus on the solution. How can we better address our child’s educational needs during this time? Some parents had educational resources provided to them, and some did not; either way, many are just “winging it,” and that’s OKAY! You don’t have to be a perfect teacher; this is only a temporary situation.
I want to introduce you to some of the best homeschool practices used by seasoned homeschool parents. Taking advantage of these simple tips will not only assist with your child’s ongoing educational needs, but will allow you to stay sane in your new role as a stand-in teacher.
Implement a flexible schedule
You are the director, producer, and screenwriter of your life! Come up with a schedule that works for you and your family that incorporates breaks. Children, as well as adults, tend to retain more information by taking frequent breaks. Believe it or not, children yearn for structure and routine. Incorporating a routine will help with their development and give you both a sense of security. Having a flexible schedule will ensure productivity is at its peak when it is time to learn. Whether you were furloughed or have to work from home, having a schedule similar to a traditional school day is most likely not going to work in a homeschool structure. Marginal adjustments to your schedule make all the difference. Making a small attainable goal for the day leads to a huge success.
Take time to read and write
Reading to your children and/or having them read to you will encourage them to love to learn. Want to make sure they are truly listening? After reading to them or having them read alone, give them the freedom to present, draw, or paint a picture of something that occurred during the story. Similarly, make writing a part of your everyday schedule. This will help with their confidence to be a competent communicator and thinker. Teachers typically require students to write every day, so it’s important to immolate the same structure at home.
With all of this extra time on our hands, this is a great time to incorporate exercise and physical activity into the day—as a family. There are plenty of activities to do outside or inside your home to get the heart pumping and help your little ones expunge some of that pent up energy. Growing up in an athletic household, I played volleyball and it is fun to show my daughter that mom’s still got it! Try teaching your kid something you actively did growing up and do it together. If it’s raining or cold, you can clear the living room floor, put on a family favorite song, and have a friendly dance-off!
Talk and build character
With the social distancing guidelines that have been set due to COVID-19, your children are away from their friends and don’t have as much in-person social engagement as they typically do. This is a great opportunity to build and strengthen the communication channels with them. This is a great time to really get to know them—what they like, what they don’t like, how they’re feeling, fears, hopes, dreams, etc. This is an opportunity to help your children learn how to properly process their feelings and articulate their ideas and thoughts.
With less outside influence, this is a great opportunity to build their character. You can use this time to instill hard work, disciplined learning, and the importance of meeting deadlines with their school work. This time should not be treated as an extended break—they still have a responsibility to complete their school work and strive for excellence. Just like when they are in a traditional school setting, they shouldn’t get “recess” or the privilege of extracurricular activities if their grades are not up to par.
Homeschooling can certainly be a challenge, but try to take advantage of this bonding time you have with your children because it won’t last forever. Teaching your children how to get through a tough time might just be the most important lesson you ever teach them.