Stores are out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, flights are cancelled, businesses are closing, and now my kids can’t go to school?! Yes, things feel crazy right now. You may feel a bit panicked at the thought of being stuck in the house with your kids at home for the foreseeable future, or you’re worried about older kids adrift at home while you work, but hopefully these tips will change your perspective and help you to regain a sense of control.
1. Breathe. You can do this.
You may be surprised to learn that you are an expert in this field already. You may not be an educator, but you are an expert about your child. You know them better than anyone else – how they think, what they like and dislike, how they operate. You know what works with them and what doesn’t. Keep this in mind as you move forward. Yes, it will be different, but you have the unique ability to adapt your child’s education to your family’s lifestyle. I homeschooled my two sons from mid-elementary through high school. It was daunting at first, but turned into an amazing, enjoyable experience.
2. Keep abreast of information from your child’s school.
School districts will be sending out emails and updating websites to keep parents in the know. Watch for announcements about free meals, online learning, and recommended resources.
3. Homeschool will not look like school.
Yes, many traditional homeschoolers set up classrooms with desks and chalkboards. No, you don’t have to do that. Most of my family’s homeschool took place at the dining table. Get comfortable. You have that advantage. Allow kids working solo to find what works for them. Adapt the rules you already have in place for homework. Also, don’t expect them to be doing school work eight hours each day. I quickly discovered that we could do a full day’s curriculum in half that time or less, because there were no roll calls, lunch counts, lining up, or changing classes. Plus, it takes less time to teach two children than it does twenty. There will be free time, so plan to make the most of it.
4. Free time is great for pursuing interests and learning life skills.
Let your kids pursue their passions – crafts, games, hobbies or special interests. My youngest son studied animals and raised a pet turtle, while my oldest son learned electronics and computer repair. Think of important life skills they can learn, such as cooking, housekeeping, first aid, basic home or auto repair, or home accounting and finances. Check online for tutorials. What a great time for family projects. Clear out closets and drawers. Organize photos. Make a family tree. The possibilities are endless!
5. Create structure while embracing flexibility.
It’s all about balance. Set up realistic boundaries for your child, making it clear what is expected of them in terms of school work, chores, and behavior. At the same time, allow them some age-appropriate freedom in setting their own schedules, filling their free time, and choosing topics of interest to study. Children are accustomed to the rigid structure of school, so it’s important to keep some of that in place, but it’s also a great opportunity to teach time management and self-regulation.
6. Down time is crucial.
Don’t feel pressured to fill up every minute of the day. Relax! Enjoy some fun together – play games, watch movies, or just hang out. Also, realize that too much time together can lead to meltdowns. It’s important for everyone to have a daily break. Throughout our homeschool years, my sons and I had “room time” every afternoon for at least one hour. It was not punishment, just time to unwind. We each went into our separate bedrooms and enjoyed free time. We all got along better because of it. You know your family best, so find ways to relax and give each other space.
7. Encourage distant socializing.
Your child will want to stay connected to their school friends and it’s important that they do. Allow them to stay in touch online or by phone, while setting clear boundaries. Remind them to communicate with relatives, too. Writing letters and drawing pictures to mail, or photograph and send digitally are great ways to stay in touch.
8. Online resources are abundant.
There are so many educational resources online! Many libraries have online lending. Search for videos of books read aloud. Look up subjects of interest. Of course, abcteach is our favorite resource. We have lots of great free activities here. I recommend starting with See What’s Popular Now for current and seasonal activities. Consider becoming a member to access 45,000 teaching activities, or build your own with our abctools. We take member requests to create specific materials, and are here to help you keep your kids educated during these uncertain times.
Now until March 31st, abcteach is offering $20 one-year memberships! Use code: ABC2020 to receive this incredible deal.
Stay safe and be well!
Written by, Carol Welch