Are you considering homeschooling your kids? Maybe you’ve tried it during this time of social distancing and decided you enjoy it and would like to consider doing it full time. Or maybe, you are looking to supplement your child’s distance learning while we are in quarantine. Maybe you have felt called to homeschool your kids since they were born. However you have come to the decision, it can be overwhelming at first.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed
When you are trying something new it is normal to feel 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 so you have a place to refer back to if you need ideas.
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. Create 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 time for outings, errands, play time, and free time in your schedule. Unlike traditional school, you do not need to be working on school work the majority of the day. A big benefit of homeschool is the flexibility it can give your family.
Follow your child’s lead
Kids are more excited about learning when they have an interest in what they are learning about. When planning your curriculum try to include and incorporate things that your child is interested in. For example, if your child is interested in animals, have them research different animals by reading books, watching educational videos, or visiting a zoo or nature center. If your child is interested in cooking, have them plan a meal, shop for the ingredients while learning about money, make the recipe while discussing the math and science of cooking, and serve the meal while they learn about social 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 they are interested in, what type of learning they enjoy, and what works best for your 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 do not 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 new things, and enjoy 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 both themselves and their children, 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 have feelings of loneliness and depression. All of these complicated feelings combined with jumping into homeschooling unprepared is a lot for all of us. During this time, give yourself and your kids grace to make mistakes, to have days where 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. You may find that you love the idea of homeschooling your kids and decide to do it full time in the future.
If you think homeschooling is a good option for your family, start by talking to some friends in your community that have experience with teaching their kids at home. They will be a great resource for support in your area.