I’ve seen about a dozen articles and memes circulating with advice on what you should be doing with your kids at this time. All of these are well-intentioned.
We all need to determine what is right for our family. I’m not here to give you a formula but to consider the different options in determining what your focus should be with your family. Only you know what is best for your family right now.
In my last article, I talked about how right now, the most important lesson and gift we can give our children is emotional fortitude.
Homeschooling Once You Have Settled into the New ‘Normal’
If you feel like you have established some healthy practices and your children are skipping along fairly well – then looking at how to ‘homeschool’, or what to teach might be on our mind.
There are so many moms right now who are losing their minds trying to homeschool, trying to follow the school’s e-learning, to figure out where to begin or feeling guilty because they aren’t doing the math or the reading.
As a mom of an eleven-year-old, I felt the same way. So before I dive into some homeschooling tips, let me be clear – you should in no way feel like a ‘bad mom’ if homeschooling is not happening.
Different families have different needs.
There’s No Right Way To Do This
I read the best meme the other day on Facebook. That meme sums up the reality of what we are living right now. If mental health or even just surviving is all you can manage, then don’t let the mama guilt seep in for one moment.
For other moms, homeschooling or e-learning can feel like a saving grace because their children need the routine, rhythm and challenge. Whether you are on your own in the homeschooling world or whether your children are doing learn at home e-learning, certain strategies can help to make this process easier.
In the past weeks I have learned more than I could imagine about real life learning – and why homeschooling is so much more than the following the curriculum.
Structure & Space
Structure, routine and a learning space can be of immense help for kids who have been off schedule these last few weeks. For kids with special needs like ASD and ADHD, it can be a life-saver.
While it is natural to not feel as productive when we are under this much stress, routine and structure can also help to create a sense of safety and normalcy.
Putting Life on Pause Can Actually Increase Anxiety in Some Children
The feeling that life is on pause can be unnerving and even totally dis-regulate some kids. You might be surprised to find that structure and challenges might help ground your child.
The key is routine and predictability. Start the morning off with breakfast and getting dressed and determine what learning tasks need to be complete that day.
Whether your child is doing school directed e-learning or free-style homeschooling, a plan and structure can take the stress out of this new way of learning for both you and your child.
Start Where Your Child Is
The first step and advantage to homeschooling is you need to determine where your children are right now in terms of academics. If you feel like your child needs some extra support with math or reading, then right now might be optimal if you have the time.
Amidst all the craziness, we have a wonderful opportunity to give our children something so many of us have wished for – an education tailored specifically to our child.
What if We Saw This as a Gain in Education Rather than a Loss?
An opportunity to learn real-life skills?
This time could be the gift to teach kids skills that so many of us feel schools are failing to teach. It was only through speaking to people who were involved in alternative education that I realised how many real-life learning opportunities are at our finger tips.
Remember When Kids Learned Practical Skills?
Remember when they used to teach cooking and sewing and woodworking and even gardening? If dad is making use of his spare time by doing some long overdue construction or repairs – now is the time to involve your children.
Now we have the time to teach our kids how to really cook – or properly clean. These are the tasks that we often find ‘just easier’ to do ourselves.
If it helps, make a list of the skills you would love for your child to have. If they are older, teach them how to do taxes, balance a budget or make a grocery list.
It’s Not School-at-Home
The key in all of this is not to think of this as school-at-home. This isn’t even homeschooling because homeschoolers are much more hands-on. They are involved in homeschooling co-ops, they go to museums and they socialise with other kids and adults.
Think ‘Life School’
Sure you can teach your child math or have them work on reading or writing but it shouldn’t take up six hours of your day. Your child is not learning six hours a day at school.
If you watched my interviews last week, you know that most homeschoolers are doing 2-3 hours of academic work at home and three hours is reserved more for older children and high schoolers.
So whether you choose to focus more on real-life skills, academics or a bit of both – keep in mind that you do not need to take on the role of a full-time teacher.