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We are at a record time in history. It’s not everyday that a virus swoops in a basically shuts down most of the world! We are panicked, stressed out, and anxious as to what our future holds. As many businesses and now schools have been ordered into quarantine, one of the many dilemmas parents are facing is “what do I do with my kids all day?” “How will I ensure they are properly educated if for some reason this lasts longer than expected?”
The worries and the concern are real! There is nothing more disheartening than being thrown into a role you never wanted to play. When we started homeschooling our kids 8 years ago, we had the opportunity to think about it, research it, decide what curriculum we were going to use, and personally make the choice to take them out.
I say all of this to say that if homeschoooling had just been thrown in my lap one day and it was never on my radar or part of my plan, I can sympathize greatly with any parent who is currently overwhelmed!
I am also hear to give you hope and tell you that homeschooling is not nearly as intimidating as you might think. If you have taught your kids to walk, talk, & tie their shoes, than you have essentially been homeschooling.
You have got this under control even if it is just for the short term! Who knows maybe you will love your new role so much that you will never send them back?
Never say never.
Here are my top 7 tips for any new homeschoolers…
Look into unschooling…
One of the bits of advice given to me as a newbie homeschooler who had just taken her kid out of school was to unschool. A big mistake I see parents make when just starting homeschooling is trying to make their homeschool look like public school. This will not work, and will more than likely make you all grumpy and unhappy.
Unschooling is mostly a term used by homeschoolers who want their kids to unplug from what the typical school may look like and find joy in learning outside of a classroom. It is more of an interest based learning. My advice to you is to find out what fascinates your kids, and gently give them the tools to explore whatever subject that may be.
Homeschooling is NOT an all day activity…
One of the most common misconceptions I hear most when it comes to homeschooling is…. “Oh I could never spend that much time doing SCHOOL with my kids! This is completely inaccurate to how homeschooling really works. In fact, I homeschool my 3 kids everyday and we are almost always done with everything by lunch time.
There are so many reasons this happens, I will not get into them here. So if for any reason you envisioned having to sit at your kitchen table for 7+ hours with your kids as a reason you could never homeschool, I am here to tell you not to worry. Besides…. if that really was the truth I am not sure I could homeschool either!
Make learning fun and simple
One of the biggest mistakes I think we make in our kids education is shoving a bunch of worksheets in their face. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for the occasional worksheet, but the reality is kids just don’t really learn and retain much of anything from a worksheet! My kids have always learned best when it was fun, simple, or both!
Routine is KEY
Structure and routine are so different in every house. You may be someone who thrives on routine and would be lost without it, or you may be someone who flies by the seat of your pants and hates to be on a schedule. In our house we have had some seasons of both, but in the end I am certain that my kids are much happier and more well adjusted when we are on some sort of routine.
Studies show that kids are creatures of habit. Kids need and thrive best with some sort of structure. Structure can help them to feel safe and secure because they can predict what is coming next. If there was ever a time for you to pour safety and security into your kids, now is that time!
Creating a routine for them does not need to be complicated. It is not a minute by minute or even hour by hour detailed plan. You can really make it what you want and make it to fit your families wants and needs.
A simple way to start is to write down a rough draft of things that are necessities in your day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, showers, bedtime etc. Next list out approximate times these things should happen and how long they take. You might be suprised at how little time you have left in the day?
Next, go in and fill in all the extra time. Things like school, outdoor time, chores, laundry, cleaning, time spent reading or on a hobby.
An example of this in my house is everyday my kids go outside after lunch. I let them play outside as long as their heart desires, but when they come in they all go to their rooms for what we call “room time.” This is time that they can read, draw, play with toys, whatever they want but it has to be in their rooms and they have to be alone. I use this time to clean up the kitchen from lunch, and switch out and fold laundry.
I love this time to myself, and they do too! Because it has been part of our routine for so long, they come to expect it, crave it, and I never really even have to tell them to do it! They just know what comes next.
Teach them a life skill
Two of my most favorite quotes of all time are….
Don’t just give your kids all the things you wish you’d had, instead teach them all the things you wish you’d known.
I’m glad I learned all about parallelograms in high school math instead of how to do my taxes. It comes in so handy during parallelogram season.
Learning doesn’t always have to be done in a school or with a text book. There are SO many life lessons that I wish I would have learned long before my adult years. Things like how to balance a check book, how to cook, how to sew, how to do laundry, how to change a tire…..
To be honest, now that I am an adult, I now realize that a lot of these so called life skills were way more important than anything I ever learned in a text book.
So if you are looking for some things you can teach your kids, teach them some life skills. Trust me, they will thank you for it later!
Let them be bored
If there is one lesson I have seen the most value from when it comes to my kids it would be my ability to let my kids be bored! Now days I think it is incredibly common to structure every minute of every day for your kids. If our kids say they are bored, we immediately spring into action trying to cure this thing called boredom.
I once fell victim to this mentality, but I also ran myself ragged trying to always make sure they were entertained.
Once I let go of the guilt I felt, I quickly realized that boredom for kids is actually an amazing gift. In fact whenever they say they are bored now, I smile inside because I know that when the are bored, that is when they are their most creative selves. They have had some of the best times with each other and even by themselves when I have let them just “be bored”
Trust me, they will not sit there and pout forever, that would truly be boring. They will however, enlist all creative juices they can, have a ton of fun, and thank you at the end of the day for letting them “be bored.”
Think of this time as a gift
One of the biggest complaints I hear from all of my mom friends at some point or another is how all they do is run here, go there, and how they seem to be on this hamster wheel of craziness. A certain part of that is just life with kids. Life with kids is just plain busy.
With that said, I know that being quarantined due to a virus is not your form of vacation, but what could seem like a time to panic might just be a gift from God to help us all get some unexpected time to rest and reconnect with the family.
Time to snuggle up on the couch and read them their favorite books.
Time to bake with them in the kitchen.
Time to sleep in.
Time to play catch with them in the yard.
Time to make memories your kids will never forget!
Thank God for time.