This “Home” school thing
Lately, most of the US has been thrust into schooling at home. We will not discuss the reason why, if you follow me on Facebook you know my thoughts there anyway. But it has been an overwhelming experience across the board. Even those of us who already homeschool are struggling. But I want to address those of you who have never been here before.
When my oldest reached school age, I felt a calling to homeschool. We started the year schooling at home, only for the pregnancy hormones and exhaustion from having a newborn while being pregnant to make me feel completely incapable. At the time, I had no idea what all was going on with Kane. All I knew was that he was violent, defiant, and I desperately needed some peace in my day. Plus, I was told that there were psychologists at public schools who could assess him, and I currently couldn’t afford another assessment. Off to school he went, and for the next few years that’s where he stayed.
When my daughter hit her k4 age, God placed the same calling on my heart. My husband, jaded from the past experience, was not on board. I started looking for ways to make money from home and planning our schedule anyway, sure this was Gods will.
Her kindergarten year started and they were still in school. Not a month into school, God started making it impossible to do anything but bring them home. By October they were all home.
Our journey started abruptly and not at all as planned, but we fell into a routine with co-op, park days, library days and activities, field trips and fun friend days. They were learning so much more than just the basics.
Then globally, life changed seemingly overnight. Most of life as we knew it stopped, everyone was forcibly homeschooling, and many were wondering how they would even feed their family, much less teach them. Many people who were previously considering homeschooling were drastically changing their tune. That’s when the “I don’t know how you do this” posts started. Friends were overwhelmed and struggling, stressing about the time it took and the battle that ensued. The work overload had most people worried how they’d do a job from home, and worried that their kids were stuck at a computer too much. It was this battle engulfed with fear, frustration and stress.
Here is where I jump in. Stop right there.
Pay. Close. Attention.
THIS is not homeschooling. Homeschooling is really much more life-schooling and offers a ton of experiences and freedoms. This is not that.
This quarantine- forced- public-school- at- home thing is NOT what we do. This several hours of fighting with kids to complete assigned work is NOT what we do. If we skip the whole month of September, no one cares. The only thing we have to do is an end of the year assessment, and everything else is free-for-all. If we want to get a whole school year done before thanksgiving (which Kane did in kindergarten) and take the rest of the year off, we can. Even that assessment is optional if we keep a portfolio and calendar of work. It’s all very laid back. Do we sometimes fight with kids over work? Absolutely! But do we have to do it JUST SO for 6 hours a day? Not on your life.
On top of that, we are usually heavily involved. Read: WE DO NOT STAY HOME. My kids are completely confused when I tell them we are once again going nowhere. Before all of this, we had weekly co-op, library days, lego build club, sewing club, rock painting club, stem club, movie days, park days, 4h, bake sales, field trips to museums, touring the Nina and pinta, trampoline homeschool days, chiropractor appointments, homesteading classes at friends houses, and so much more. We usually did official “school” while I cooked dinner because our schedule was so full. I had to have a separate calendar for our homeschool activities. But mostly, WE HAD IN PERSON SUPPORT. Now we only have the chiropractor every couple of weeks, and otherwise stay home. My child on the spectrum is especially struggling with the drastic change in schedule.
The only saving grace we have currently is our lax schoolwork routines that can change day to day.
So if you are one of these parents currently struggling, I have this advice for you:
Number 1, cut yourself some slack. You are homeschooling and public schooling IN ONE. Homeschooling itself is a difficult transition, but now you are expected to play the role of the public school teacher too. Take breath, it’s going to be okay.
Number 2, since you are already thrust into it, and won’t be stopping at least this year, if it is even remotely possible, WITHDRAW, pick out curriculum that suits your child (amazon usually has some complete curriculum sets by grade for $15) and make your days much less stressful. You don’t have to follow someone else’s curriculum plan for your child to learn.
If you can’t possibly withdraw, take things in stride and offer yourself grace. All the grace.
Number 3, download all the free learning apps you can. Many apps are offering free accounts right now and it makes it incredibly easy to fill in the gaps. (And it gives you some sanity while they are occupied.)
Number 4, GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS. Kids learn the most through play, and who better to show them than you? Even if it’s just your back yard, find some flowers, identify some trees, and get into nature. If you are in an apartment and have no yard, plant a window garden and bring the outside indoors. Have a dance party with music. Spend time doing art. Get their creativity flowing. Cook with them in the kitchen. Take this time to teach them everything that school CANT.
At the end of the day, this is new territory for all of us. We remember how overwhelming it was just to bring kids home full time and you are handling so much more. So just know you are not alone or unseen in this. We see you. You’ve got this.