Today’s post is dedicated to all the moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers who are suddenly homeschooling due to the COVID-19 crisis. Before I became a Silhouette instructor, I was a homeschooling mom for 13 years. Even though it was something we planned for, I can still remember feeling overwhelmed and anxious at first. I also remember being exhausted by lunchtime and needing a nap every day for the first six weeks (no joke!). Once we settled into our routine however, things got a lot better and we not only survived but thrived! Here are some tips I’d like to offer to help you do the same.
Disclaimer: First, let me say that I know every family’s situation is unique. Many of you are holding down full-time jobs while trying to coordinate childcare and homeschool. Your child may be enrolled in distance-learning via your local school district and expected to complete a certain amount of work and turn in assignments each week. Or maybe your school has canceled classes for the remainder of the school year and you find yourself at loose ends. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” homeschool plan, so take what works for you and your family and ignore the rest.
You’re stressed. Your kids are stressed. And if you’re dealing with your local school system, the teachers and administrators are stressed too. This is uncharted territory for everyone, but I promise – YOU CAN DO THIS! No matter what happens with your child’s “formal education” in the next few weeks, their life will not be ruined. No one loves your kids more than you do and no one cares more about their future than YOU do. Whether you realize it or not, they’re learning much bigger lessons from you right now than how to diagram a sentence or solve a math problem, just by watching how you react in a time of crisis.
2. Remember that your child is probably just as stressed about this as you are.
I mentioned this in Tip #1, but it bears repeating. Your child is just as stressed as you are – maybe more. Their daily routine has been turned upside-down, they miss their friends, and they are having to adjust to an entirely different set of expectations and method of learning. They need time to decompress and adjust to their new normal. Even if you were already a homeschooling family, you may need to lower your expectations of your child(ren) and yourself for the time being.
3. Don’t try to re-create a traditional school model at home.
I made this mistake during my first year of homeschooling. Don’t do it. By all means, strive to create a rich learning environment in your home but don’t get hung up on what you think “real school” looks like. And remember, there’s a lot of time built into a public-school schedule that isn’t necessary in a home setting (morning announcements, lining up to go to lunch, moving between classrooms, etc.) so you may find that your homeschool day is much shorter than a typical school day. That’s perfectly normal.
4. Establish a daily routine.
Kids thrive on routine. It gives them security to know what to expect each day. There’s no need for a rigid schedule but do establish regular wake-up times, bedtimes, and mealtimes too if possible. In most cases, the brain is more receptive to learning first thing in the morning, so keep that in mind when you decide which subjects to schedule first. Determine a time for when the school day ends and avoid turning on the TV before then (unless it’s an educational program, of course!). And don’t be afraid to make your child do “homework” in the evening if you find that they’re dawdling during the day and not completing their assignments in a timely manner.
5. Read, read, read!
This one is SO important that it should probably be at the top of the list. If you don’t do another thing during the next few weeks, read to your kids (even if they can read to themselves), read with your kids, and encourage them to read on their own. This can be a little daunting right now with so many libraries closed to the public but modern technology can help. See if your local library has an online option (including storytime!) or take advantage of resources such as Audible or Project Gutenberg.
6. Include quiet time in your schedule.
Schedule at least one hour of daily “quiet time” for each person to read, nap, or play alone. It’s a great chance for you and your children to recharge your batteries and it will do wonders for your attitude. (Ask me how I know 😉 .)
7. Get outside as much as you can.
Staying cooped up in the house all day isn’t good for your health or your state of mind. Go for a walk – rain or shine. Listen to the birds. Watch the sunset. You can still practice social distancing in the outdoors.
8. Think “opportunity”, not obligation.
This is a great chance for your child to explore new subjects he/she is interested in but may not have had time for up until now. It’s also a time to strengthen family bonds and get to know your child even better than you did before. Learn something new together. Slow down. Avoid multi-tasking. Be fully present when you’re having a conversation. Play games together. Act silly. Laugh as much as you can.
9. Keep in mind that there’s more to education than “book-learning”.
Look for learning opportunities in everyday activities. Cooking dinner is a lesson in math and chemistry. Nature walks are packed full of opportunities to learn about science and weather. Performing ordinary household tasks gives children a chance to practice life skills that will last long into adulthood.
10. Last but not least, remember this won’t last forever.
Days that seem endless have a way of quickly turning into years, which can be both positive and negative. If you’re stressed out, remember “this too shall pass”. If you’ve found your groove and are enjoying your new homeschooling life, cherish it. With any luck at all, your kids will remember this time as some of the best days of their lives – and that earns you an A+ in my book!
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Until next time,
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.