So, Coronavirus. It has come in like a wrecking ball and suddenly nothing in life looks quite the same as it did a week ago. People are scared, schedules are disrupted, and routines have been chewed up and spit out. As a nation, we are in uncharted waters. As a parent, you may be too now that schools have closed and your kid’s education is in your hands for the coming weeks. Don’t worry! As a homeschooling mom of 8 years, I am going to tell you what you should know in order to do this.
Firstly, you don’t need another list of homeschooling resources. They’ve been popping up like crazy the past few days and they are all very helpful. But that isn’t what I have in mind when friends have messaged me asking for advice on what to do or how to survive this thing they didn’t sign up for. Instead, this is what I want them to know…
Don’t overthink it.
You have your kids home with you on the weekends. On holiday breaks. And the stay-at-home moms, the work-at-home moms, and moms that work in schools do this all summer long. This isn’t much different! It’s just falling onto a part of the calendar where it typically wouldn’t. Instead of focusing on how new or strange this is for you right now, remind yourself that you’ve done it before.
It takes a little patience and a lot of grace.
There’s a common myth out there and we hear it all the time: “I could never homeschool; I don’t have the patience.” Guess what? Homeschool parents don’t have super human patience levels. In fact, some days we start out in the red zone on the patience meter and go nuclear by the time the first kid asks for a snack. This is where the grace comes in. You need to extend grace to your kids and even a little more to yourself. Days don’t go as planned and that’s okay. Your students won’t always be cooperative and that’s okay, too. You’re going to lose it and then feel terribly guilty and that’s when I really want you to be full of grace. And while you’re throwing grace around like confetti, make sure you sprinkle some on your to-do list, the laundry piles, and the countertops that need to be cleaned.
Homeschooling is not school-at-home.
The majority of homeschoolers, myself included, don’t try to replicate the structure or schedule of a brick & mortar school at home. It’s unnecessary and will most likely end up in frustration and failure. Having a plan is great, don’t get me wrong. But living life by a bell in your home feels a little cold and, well, not very homelike. Homeschooling is more fluid because it can be. We don’t have to keep 25-35 kids on task throughout the day. There is the luxury of a much different teacher to student ratio. So please don’t feel overwhelmed thinking that you suddenly have to reproduce your kid’s school day.
Don’t underestimate the power of physical activity.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a day in our homeschool journey that didn’t include, “Take a break! Go run around!” I often wonder if teachers would see certain negative behaviors decline if students had a 10 minute recess between every class. If you notice your child is losing patience or the cooperation is waning, it’s time for a break. My favorite is sending them right out to the backyard to run it off in the fresh air and, hopefully, sunshine. Sometimes we’ll take a walk together. If the weather is bad, I suggest cranking up some music and playing a dance game. Everyone dances it out while the music is playing but when you hit pause – FREEZE! Make up your own rules. They’ll think it’s great. Whatever you can do to help them move and get some of their energy out is now the Swiss Army Knife in your toolbox.
Do what you can, with what you have, and what you know.
There is a good chance you might be nervous or intimidated by what’s in front of you. Maybe it’s common core math or a foreign language. Maybe the packet sent home for this break is huge or you can’t quite figure out the cyber-learning platform your district is utilizing. The first thing you need to do is breathe and remember… there was a time that you were a brand new parent and someone sent you home with a baby that did not include an instruction manual. And not only did you figure it out but you taught them things. Before you sent your babies off to school, YOU were their first teacher. You are equipped for this because experience says you’ve already done it. Do your best with what you have and what you know. And then ask for help if you need it! Google, YouTube, your friendly neighborhood middle school teacher who is home now too or a Facebook friend that homeschools her kids. The one silver lining that has already emerged from this crisis is that people are offering to help in a multitude of ways. And if all of that fails – I can promise you that a few weeks will not make or break your child’s academic career.
Love on them.
One of two things is happening in your home right now. Either your child is too young to understand what is going on or they are old enough to understand it all. Both are scary. They’re scared. Everything is different and they can feel the fear and the panic. Maybe they’re asking questions and opening up to you or maybe they’re trying to put on a brave face and act like everything is normal. (Hmm. Ever wonder where they get that from?) Loving on your babies is more important than any worksheet that has been sent home. Take this time to hold them in your arms, kiss their sweet faces, and just let them know that you’re here and that you are all going to be okay. It’s all going to be okay. The gift among the chaos is that we’re being forced to slow down and stay home. Use the time to fill their buckets and yours.
My sincere hope is that you can take something from this that will ease your worries and calm your heart. This is my way of wrapping you in a hug and saying, “It’s going to be okay.”