*Upfront. I realize not everyone has the luxury of staying home with their children right now. I am extremely sensitive to that and am eager to be a part of helping those in our community who don’t have the advantages I do.
Dear COVID Homeschool Moms,
Congratulations! You tackled your first day! Or thought about it and decided to extend Spring Break just one more day…You’re a homeschool mom (for) now! You’ve got your book stacks and your plan. You’ve scoured the internet and the gram for ideas and (honestly) you feel secretly excited. It’s the kind of excitement mingled with terror you feel right at the apex of a giant wooden rollercoaster. Like, “This might fall apart on the way down, but I’m doing it, America!!”
Here you are. And guess what. You can do it. You can do it, because you have to, but also because it’s inside of you to teach your child. You’ve been doing it since day one. You taught them to nurse (because we all know that was NOT natural), to walk, and talk, and eat solid foods. You taught them to use the toilet and wipe (or at least try). You taught them manners and how to say “thank you.” You taught them how to be kind (this one takes a lifetime but we’re all still working on it). So first, hear me when I tell you this-YOU are already fully equipped for this simply because NO ONE (not even the best school teacher) loves your kid and knows your kids like you do.
So let’s talk about yesterday. I’ve been homeschooling (by choice) for four years. During the first year of Kinder, my husband did it 100% alone, while I nursed infant twins and had a year-long panic attack about homeschooling. Now we both teach all four kids and yesterday….yesterday was BLEEP show. I still had some groceries to hunt and the tv came on early and everything was disjointed. By 5pm, I was working out in the bedroom burning frustrated calories and the tall guy was doing a history lesson over dinner. I tell you this to let you know that no matter what all of the Homeschool blogs may tell you, it’s not always or often easy and perfect. And no, we didn’t even eat dinner together last night.
Today is a new day. That is the beauty of homeschool. YOU ARE THE BOSS NOW. Some days are hard and some days are easy and it’s ok. You have the flexibility to give your kiddos a 10-minute break or bribe them with a movie and popcorn at the end of the day. You get to say, “See this phone timer, I’m using it, if you finish this page before it goes off, you get 4 chocolate chips.” You know your kid. You already know what works. You can spot their frustration or shame cycles from a mile away. You don’t have to play public school anymore. Welcome to our homeschool jungle, that’s actually really lovely-like a private beach (there are still sand spurs, but it’s worth it).
The truth is-school doesn’t have to take all day. If my kids are in a focus-y kind of mood, we can do literature, grammar, history, math, piano, ballet practice, and Spanish before lunch. This is the method I personally prefer but sometimes it just doesn’t work. So, if they are in crummy moods or need to sleep a little later, we still have freedom. We can do some before lunch or after or some over dinner (like last night). I wrote about our schedule (or lack thereof) here.
Here are some ideas to make the day go more smoothly.
- Keep tv off until after everything is finished. As I type this, the tv is on SO I can type this….again we enjoy flexibility. You have control. But on a normal day, our littles play in the playroom while the bigs and I tackle school work from the start and then we flip flop.
- Keep your expectations low. You’re new to this, your kids are new to this. You are not a rock star yet. You just aren’t. I’m not. It takes practice, like EVERYTHING else. Keep trying.
- Make homeschooling your own. Play to your strengths. If you aren’t crafty, don’t worry about it. If you are, dust off the art supplies. If your husband now finds himself with extra time, divide and conquer. My kids and I are going to learn some new songs and harmony together because crafts give me hives.
- Get ideas from your friends, but don’t compare yourself to them. No two homeschool moms are the same. You are your child’s BEST advocate. But you are also your own worst enemy. Keep that shame at bay. What you are doing is hard and you’re doing a good job SIMPLY by trying something new.
- Add in lots of snuggles. And lots of encouragement and tears if you need them. Reward them and yourself with breaks and incentives and chocolate.
- Read. Read. Read. When all else fails, reading to your children is one of the BEST things you can do to catapult their brains and their learning. In fact, our entire history curriculum is Read Aloud. Now would also be a GREAT time to check out your favorite childhood book from the E-Library and crack it open with them. **If you have a library card and haven’t taken advantage of their online resources, you can find almost anything! If you have an apple product, download the Libby App, for androids-Overdrive. In addition to read-alouds, our kids go to sleep every night listening to their favorite audiobooks. Additionally, check out this site for amazing book lists and ideas!
- Free play and imagination are still everyone’s best friend. It’s SO good for your children. Other countries have figured this out. In America, we’re behind the curve. Here is a medical article to support this fact. Do not enslave your children to the kitchen table and worksheets during this time.
For those of us *stuck at home with our kids, I think the next few weeks will be a test of our patience, but they could also be a gift. We have never experienced a forced time of togetherness in our lifetime. This is also a chance to teach our children about others and family and our favorite books. This is a time to model service and generosity. We will likely (hopefully) NEVER be forced to stay home together again, and I think and hope we can take advantage it.
The best news is, the rollercoaster will end and you can either choose to ride it again or get off of it.
One more thing, go ahead and buy a big bag (or several) of large marshmallows from Amazon. When the tension gets super high, go in your back yard and pelt each other mercilessly. The End.
PS. YOU CAN DO THIS!
More stress relieving ideas…You can also throw ice at a fence or tree. My 10-year-old does it frequently, usually about me. (My aunts taught me about ice and marshmallows. They are geniuses).
You can throw styrofoam at each other. (Thanks Sara, for this hilarious idea!)