You know that New Year Resolution feeling? You are feeling all gung-ho and ready to conquer the world. January 1st comes and you are organized, goal is in mind and you are ready to kill it. Day 2 and 3 are still going good but life begins to get busy and before you know it, that resolution and goal you had in mind are anywhere BUT on your mind.
I don’t know about you, but that is my biggest fear with the sudden shut down of our children’s schools. I really wasn’t looking forward to “homeschooling my children” but whether I wanted to or not, here we go!
I instantly started making a list of resources, printing off worksheets, making a rigorous schedule, right now its working for us. But, the last thing I want to have happen is the New Years Resolution phenomenon. I’m ready to go and have my teacher crown on! Hoorah!
Then it happens. Sadly, school has fallen to the back burner and we are all ready to lose our minds!
I reached out to Lyndsay. She is a tried and true homeschooling Momma! I’ve watched her and her family on social media, and have been inspired by her approach to homeschooling. Lyndsay has graciously shared her tips and tricks to homeschooling with us so we are able to knock these “New Year Resolutions” out of the park … enjoy!
“This is an interesting time in our world. All kids are home from school; all moms and dads are feeling the pressure to teach their kids. Teachers are scrambling to create distance learning and we are all unsure which way is up!
As a homeschooling mom of 3 little ones under the age of 7 who also teaches group exercise class, online training and sells active wear I get the craziness and hectic schedule of trying to do it all. I wanted to come on and give you my tips and tricks for turning to homeschool during this time and trying to stay sane!!
1) BREATHE AND PRACTICE GRACE!!
I do believe for the first 3 months of homeschooling someone in my family ended the day in tears? Either myself, or one of my three daughters! It has been an extreme learning curve and we chose to homeschool, we were not thrown into it because of a pandemic!!
So many of you have been thrown into this situation!! It is not what you ever thought you would be doing and now you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place!! First and foremost I just want you to breathe!! Take a minute, take a breath and practice grace on both yourself and your children!! If you need to step back and punt one day and head to the woods for a hike instead of working on letters, or math or reading then so be it. In a time when our world has been turned upside down, parents are stressed and unsure of everything, how do you think our kids feel. Love them, be with them and we will all turn out all right!
2) PROVIDE A SCHEDULE BUT KEEP FLEXIBLITY!
I know this sentence contradicts itself but hear me out! Kids THRIVE on structure!! They need a schedule to keep some sort of control in their life! Studies upon studies show that when children have boundaries, a schedule, a routine, they do much better in all areas of life. So find a schedule that works for your family and try to stick to it!! That being said this is a whole new situation for everyone! Stress is high and things will change so go back to #1, give yourself grace and be flexible when necessary!
3) USE RESOURCES AVAILABLE!!
Wow!! Our community as a whole has provided so many wonderful sources for kids to continue learning while at home!! From online curriculums to virtual field trips there is something for everyone and every age!! Use them!!
Here are a few links that I have found to be helpful!! Please know there are hundreds of free resources being offered to help our kids right now, this is just a tiny piece.
o Free digital material to borrow with library card
o Sign up for free library card online at the Philadelphia Free Library to have access
4) BALANCE SCREEN TIME/PLAY TIME/STRUCTURED TIME
There are so many wonderful educational resources online for our kids! They are all wonderful, but kids are not meant to sit in front of a screen all day!! Allow them to play, allow them to interact with siblings, have free time and just be kids!! Try to be mindful of screen time, play time, structured time etc.! Everything has its place but kids need a balance of everything!
5) TRY DIFFERENT AVENUES, BUT DON’T BE WISHY WASHY!!
What works for one family might not work for another and what will work for one child may not work for the other! It took a lot of dead ends before we found a system that works for our family. Try, try and try again, but don’t be wishy-washy. Try something and stick with it until you are sure it does not work for your family. For example, my oldest daughter does not do well learning from me. In the beginning I thought it was just her rebelling with the chosen tasks, so I would try to find every fun way to spin things. Even that was not working and I could see she was trying but she just wasn’t enjoying it! As a last resort I found a full online curriculum that teaches her rather than mom. I just facilitate and she loves it!! Now I say this was a last resort because I have a teaching background, how can a cookie cutter program do better then my teaching background? Well it has nothing to do with the teacher, it has everything to do with the Mother/Daughter dynamics. My middle child on the other hand loves working with mom and the extra 1 on 1 time! Took us a long time to figure all of this out! Back to #1, breathe and have grace!
6) BOREDOM IS A GOOD LESSON!
It is good for a child to be bored! You heard me, you do not need to entertain them 24/7! When children are bored they are forced to draw upon skills within them! They need to use their imagination, they need to think on their own, they need to find something to do. Our world runs at a very fast pace and I know so many kids are so over scheduled! It is from school, to practice, to dinner on the run, to homework to bed and then all over again! There is no time to be bored, no time to follow their inner desires and creativity.
Be prepared this will be HARD at first!! There will be whining, there will be crying but there will also be growth! Give them the opportunity to grow, allow them to be bored! Most importantly don’t fill that time with more screens, allow them to grow!
7) STICK TO BASICS/DON’T GO CRAZY
School days are usually 6 or 7 hours each day. That is partly because 1 teacher is teaching 20 different kids of all different levels and abilities. At home you are able to give individual attention and help meet individual needs much quicker! The same amount of work that is done in a full school day can be done in a fraction of the time at home 1 on 1! If you work your kids for 6 or 7 hours straight they will burn out and you will have fights and tears!! Focus on short bursts, aim for age appropriate tasks and time frames. Obviously younger kids will have shorter focused time and older kids will have longer. As an example my kids are 3, 5 and 7, we aim for about 3 hours of school a day which includes a calendar, book and activity geared for everyone before we break up to individual work. This time frame is aimed at my oldest and if the younger two break off at points within the day that is totally fine!
8) DON’T DISCREDIT ALL INFORMAL LEARNING TIME
We often get caught up in “FORMAL” learning opportunities. Having kids sit down for a specific task, worksheet, workbook etc and often forget all of the informal learning opportunities that are happening all day long! Kids learn through play, give them the opportunity to play!!
Here are a few examples of informal learning opportunities:
• Read together
• Read independently
• Sing songs or play music
• Cook together and talk about measuring, pouring, dividing, ingredients etc.
• Build something you have been meaning to make for the house, practice measuring, cutting, attaching etc.
• Write a letter to a loved one
• Go on a nature hunt
• Create an in home restaurant
• Play board games
• Find a topic they love and dive deeper!
Learning opportunities are all around us, love them, listen to them and play with them and they will be okay in these next few weeks!
9) ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOUR ROLL HAS SHIFTED
Acknowledge that being a mom or dad and a teacher is tough. Not to mention throw in employee or boss or any other duties you may have. Talk to your kids; explain to them the situation and how you want them to be their best! Establish rules and give them boundaries, but remember to be fair! I often try to give my time to my kids first so then I can take time to do the work I need to do. Fully explaining how the schedule is going to work and when Mommy needs her work time after they have received their time. Not to mention the more they help out with household duties the more full mom attention they get! After a while it sinks in and they help with the chores, the laundry, the cleaning etc because they want to be around mom and dad!
When all else fails bring in backup support!! In a school setting if a child acts up or doesn’t get all of their work done due to fooling around they often have an appointment with the principal correct? Well, I may be the teacher since I am home all day, but Daddy is the principal! If work doesn’t get done or kids are acting up then they need to have a meeting with the “principal” and at home that is Daddy. Just having someone support you to reinforce all of the things you are saying is a great help and shows your children you are not messing around.
10) MOST IMPORTANTLY, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE A DEEP BREATHE AND BE PRESENT
This is a very stressful time for our whole world! You are stressed, you are uneasy, you aren’t sure which way is up. Now imagine those feelings in a small child who isn’t even sure how to manage or control feelings to begin with! What children need most during this time is love and support! Put your phone away, snuggle, read, explore, do crafts, play games and just be together. If you are actively participating with them they will continue to learn and grow. Make learning fun and they will forget they are learning!
I hope you find some of these tips helpful and by all means if I can help in anyway please don’t hesitate to reach out, or if you want a good workout to relieve some stress send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook! ”
Wow! I don’t know about you but that is exactly what my mind and heart needed to hear! Grace, upon grace, upon grace. We can do this Momma’s and we can do it GREAT!
CEO My Luvkins