I’ve had several parents reach out for help or advice for their children while they’re out of school because of the Covid-19 outbreak and I have four words: Have fun with it.
I know, it sounds too simple. Maybe it even sounds impossible, because you’re feeling so overwhelmed, but I’m quite serious. I remember when I first began homeschooling my daughter & we started with a serious focus on unschooling. In doing this, we read each day, had fun outings, and just learned from life. The cool part: she really did learn.
Later, my old teacher habits creeped in on me and I began to worry that I wasn’t doing enough. I began checking the standards for her age group, and even though she was ahead in most of them. I bought a curriculum that we began following to the tee & I was dismayed to find we were sitting at the table more and more and she was growing more and more opposed to “school time.” I’ll never forget seeing her sad face one morning, as I gathered the materials for the day.
It was then and there that I put it all away & we worked together to build the schedule we have in place now. Each day we read together, she reads independently, and she does math. Other than that, she chooses the activities she does and I document what she’s doing. I don’t stress it anymore. I know she’s learning.
I know it’s a little different for children who have been sent home to be schooled while school is closed for the CoronaVirus. You can’t pick your own topics. You have to get finished with what you’re told. I understand well how stressful this can be, because very often the work isn’t something the children have a true interest in. It’s something a group of adults chose to teach your children before schools opened for the year. I remember having to fight my sons to get school work finished. It’s no fun.
The advice I have is to give children some control over their work schedule. Sit down with them to figure out what needs to be done and let them figure out how they want to plan their day. This may make the work less of a chore and it will help them learn time management, which is a vital skill. This can work well for younger children as well. My daughter chooses in what order she does her work, and she often adds in other activities and games as well. At seven, she is learning how to manage her time.
I realize having multiple children can pose a challenge. I once taught 120; not all at the same time of course, but I had multiple children in each class and they were not all working on the same things at the same time. What I did for my students was similar to what I do for my daughter: “You’ve got this to do and this much time in which to accomplish it.” Each student knew what he needed to do and they were trusted to get the work accomplished.
And I think that’s the key: Trust. As a teacher and as a homeschool mom, I have found that trusting and empowering children works far more effectively than trying to control them. At first this will be tough. If your children have been going to school, they may not yet trust you in the teacher role. They also haven’t likely experienced a time when they had control over their learning, but instead worked until a bell told them to stop, and then moved on to a completely different subject and project in another room until yet another bell told them to stop. With patience and encouragement, they (and you) will settle in to the new schedule & you never know, they may even get ahead!
I do recommend that children have independent reading time every day. This might be one chapter per day, or it might be a certain amount of time per day. Whatever works for your children. Ask them about the book, and if you’re reading (I hope you are, because they learn what they live), talk about the book you’re reading as well. Create a community of learning in your own home that they can carry back to school when they return.
It may sound idealistic, but I can assure you, it works: As long as you’re not looking for perfection and as long as you put away any worry of how you’ll perform as a “homeschooling mom,” and enjoy the process. The schools aren’t sure how all of this will go. They’re doing the best they can and they know that many parents will be feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for all of this, so don’t be too hard on yourself or your children.
Do the best you can. Trust your children. Trust yourself. Breathe. Take a break when needed. Go outside each day. It’s going to be okay.
Note: If you were not provided materials by the school and you’d like free online resources, please check out linktr.ee/resabrandenburg and click on “Getting Started with Homeschool.” I have several listed there for children of all ages and levels.
A Musing Mother
Hi! My name is Theresa and I'm a wife, mom of three, and grandma to two. I am a Nature lover and a follower of Christ. I live in an old farmhouse on the river where I homeschool our daughter. Most days, I can be found reading, making nature-inspired products, & gardening. I also enjoy traveling with my family, exploring cool local places, and helping out others where I am able. On the blog, I must about life, love, and learning.