I taught school for about ten years, and always homeschooled my four kids, so I have a bit of a different philosophy towards education than many.
Around March 2020, may families found themselves in awkward situations. Many parents worked from home while children completed their school year online. Teachers scrambled to prepare online lessons for hundreds of students. It was stressful.
Many families and the media call this homeschooling.
Narrator: “This was not, in fact, homeschooling.”
Now the word “homeschooling” has evolved over the years and used to have different connotations than it now does. It’s not such a weighted or negative word as it used to be.
The word often conjured images of denim jumper dress-wearing evangelical fundamentalist Christian families. And that certainly is still a subculture within homeschooling communities.
While it is still difficult to find secular and liberal homeschoolers in many areas, it is becoming more widely acceptable for many families to home educate their children in different ways.
Homeschool choices are almost limitless. Many states and school districts provide online or video lessons. There are secular and Christian curriculum options. Parents can create an eclectic mix of academics and hobbies for kids to explore.
Many families are concerned about safety, continuity, and consistency for this next school year.
Some schools are closed, some offer part time or staggered attendance, some are going completely online. I am not here to judge parents whose choices are impossible during these circumstances. I realize many parents must work outside the home and need childcare. Our society expects schools to provide education and care during working hours.
Teachers are facing impossible situations. Required to teach in person or prepare and teach engaging lessons online, risking their health or their careers. I can’t imagine making these hard choice if I were still a classroom teacher.
I understand that it’s overwhelming to suddenly homeschool kids who expect to attend school. It’s a completely different lifestyle for many families and the unknown is scary.
For first time homeschoolers, pandemic/quarantine/crisis homeschoolers, reluctant homeschoolers, even veteran homeschoolers:
Some things to think about school at home:
What is your focus?
Search your heart for what you want this school year to look like for your family. Use this time to learn about your children – their hopes, dreams, preferences. Don’t just think this is about academics. This is about relationship. This is about making memories. What do you want your family to look back on during this time and remember fondly?
Ease into it.
It’s often best to start with the bare bones. Fun, fun, fun. Outside time. Hiking. Nature exploration. Learn about your backyard nature. Fall in love with learning. Maybe just begin with reading, writing, arithmetic. Have story time and talk about the book afterwards or make art. Do kitchen math with delicious recipes. You don’t have to recreate a classroom school environment in your kitchen, dining room, living room, or basement. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum, books, computer programs.
Records, portfolio, book lists, field trips are handy to have if you plan to send kids back into public or private school attendance at any point. It’s also nice to look back over what was accomplished on the days when you feel like nothing ever got done. I often enlist the kids to help make their notebooks or portfolios. It’s a great family project! Many homeschoolers must submit curriculum lists at the beginning of each school year with their intent letter and provide a portfolio or test score at the end of the year. Keeping records as you go makes this easier than scrambling last minute. It’s good to have a scrapbook or journals for kids to look back on too.
Take it slow.
You will have bad days. Keep your cool as the adult when things fall apart. Don’t think of it as a failure. Think of the unpleasant moments as opportunities to learn how to do better. No one is falling behind. You’re not competing with anyone. You don’t need a strict color-coded schedule for every minute of every day. You don’t have to know how to do everything, teach every subject, or complete every lesson. There is a plethora of resources out there to help. Screentime is ok. Sleeping in is ok. Meal times are arbitrary. Later bedtimes are ok. I realize this is a stressful time for everyone, even veteran homeschoolers who usually participate in lots of activities with others.
Keep in touch.
It’s important to allow kids to keep in touch with friends until it’s safer for in person meetups and play dates and group activities. We live in a brave new world with so much technology allowing us to communicate any time, anywhere, with almost anyone. My kids have iPads and/or smartphones with Discord, messenger apps, social media. We find it difficult to find other kids whose parents trust them to use these services. It makes it more difficult for my kids to keep in touch with their friends.
Start a new tradition.
Breakfast announcements. Morning message before beginning seatwork. Weekly tea time (it doesn’t even have to include tea!) with fun snacks and music or poetry. Friday free days (or afternoons) for playing outside. Friday pizza nights with movies. Saturday dance parties. Sunday hiking.
- NOT Back to School
- Homeschooling in Quarantine
- Lessons from Quarantine
- Quarantine with Kids
- Prayer for Quarantine
- Do Not Fear
- Apocalyptic Media to Binge
- Secular Curriculum
- Take Care of Your Kids and Yourself This School Year
- New to Homeschooling?
- Realistic Homeschool Schedule
- How I Plan Our Homeschool Year
- Homeschool for Free
- Five Languages of Learning
- Learning Styles and Personality Types
- How We Learn
- Top 10 Books for Homeschoolers
- 12 Things Homeschoolers Don’t Have to Do
- We Don’t Do a Homeschool Co-op
- We Don’t Do Testing
- High School Credits and Transcripts
- My Thoughts on Socialization
- Stop Making Everything So Educational
What does this school year look like for your family?
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