Are you considering homeschooling your kids? Whether you’ve tried it during this time of social distancing and now are considering it full time, want to supplement your child’s distance learning while in quarantine or have felt called to homeschool since your kids were born, however you come to the decision, it can be overwhelming at first.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. While the idea of teaching your children at home may seem daunting, try not to worry. No one expects you to have everything figured out right away, not even your kids. Let them know that you are all trying something new and it’s fine to allow time for adjustments and frustrations along the way. Do some research and make a list of things you would like to try.
Create a flexible schedule
Creating a schedule is a great way to keep your kids, and yourself, on task. It can be easy to get distracted when you are adjusting to the new idea of learning from home. Home is typically a place where you relax, rest and play, but it will also need to be a place to get work done during homeschool. Make time and space for learning from home and use a schedule that works for your family. If you are freshest in the morning, try to schedule learning right after breakfast. If you are a family of night owls, later in the day may be a better time to focus. Allow opportunities in your schedule for outings, errands, play and free time. Unlike traditional school, you do not need to be working on schoolwork the majority of the day. A big benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility it can give your family.
Follow your child’s lead
Kids are more excited about learning when they are interested in what they are learning. When planning your curriculum, try to include and incorporate things that motivate your student. For example, if your child is interested in animals, have her research different animals by reading books, watching educational videos or visiting a zoo or nature center. If your child is interested in cooking, have him plan a meal, shop for the ingredients while you teach about money, make the recipe while you demonstrate the math and science of cooking and serve the meal while you introduce skills such as how to set a table, manners and clean up. Reading, writing, math, social studies and science can be incorporated into almost any topic. Follow your child’s lead and take note of what stimulates interest, what type of learning is most effective and what works best for your whole family.
Don’t overdo it
When you are just starting your homeschool adventure, it may be tempting to do too much. Don’t spend a lot of money on curriculums that you may not end up using. Don’t try to cram too much into each day. Try to be flexible while you are learning and see what works well for you, your budget and your kids while still meeting the requirements. Take it a little at a time and you will become more comfortable and confident.
Enjoy the time
Homeschooling is fun and allows for quality time as a family. Whether you are homeschooling due to social distancing and plan to return to a traditional classroom or you are wanting to homeschool full time, you get to be a role model to your kids. As adults, we can learn new things, too. You don’t have to know about everything you teach prior to teaching it. Have fun learning along the way, experience reading new books with your kids, enjoy watching them discover things and relish the quality time together.
A note about continuous online learning
Distance learning or continuous online learning is not the same as homeschooling. Many of us were thrown into teaching our kids at home during a high-stress time. Parents are trying to work from home, keep up with their daily responsibilities and deal with the emotional stressors that go along with a quarantine for their children and themselves, all while teaching their kids at home for the first time. Many are dealing with financial troubles, disappointments as things they were looking forward to are postponed or cancelled and feelings of loneliness and depression. All of these complicated feelings, combined with jumping into homeschooling unprepared, are a lot for all of us. Give yourself and your kids the grace to make mistakes, to have days when online learning doesn’t work, to adjust, learn and grow during this time. It’s enough to do your best each day, one day at a time, and you may find that you love homeschooling your kids and want to continue in the future.
If you think homeschooling is a good option for your family, start by talking to some friends in your community who have experience with teaching their kids at home. Join Washington Parent’s Survival Group on Facebook. It’s a great resource for support in your area.