Suddenly Thrust Into Homeschooling and Feel Lost?  We’ve Got Some Tips to Ease the Transition

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

 

Families all over the country are finding themselves impacted in ways they never imagined by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to keeping everyone safe, healthy, and sane while being more isolated than ever, some parents are finding themselves filling a different kind of role – that of teacher.

For a parent who has no idea where to start, it can be a time of uncertainty and doubt – but we’ve got some tips to help you make the best of the situation.

If your child’s school has closed indefinitely, you’re probably experiencing a number of different emotions…

Maybe you’re excited to try something new and have this extra time together.  Or maybe you’re filled with panic, dread, and fear of the unknown.  There is no right or wrong way to feel about it.

Families who homeschool their children by choice will be the first to tell you that it’s not easy – but it can be the most rewarding experience imaginable for both parent and child.

Parents across the nation are trying to navigate uncharted waters right now.  Their kids may be out of school for a couple of weeks, or for the remainder of the school year.

Schools are scrambling to put lessons online, set up virtual classrooms, and give guidance to parents – but let’s face it, no one could have been prepared for the almost immediate change in lifestyle we’re all experiencing.

The good news is, homeschooling has been rising in popularity and practice for the last couple decades, particularly in the last few years, so the first step is to seek out advice and create a plan.

There are hundreds of homeschooling resources online for all ages.  Not only can you find games, activities, worksheets, and virtual lessons, but more importantly, advice and support from those who have taught their children at home for years.

In addition to speaking with your child’s teacher over the phone or through video chat to gain insight on what you should be focusing on, there are dozens of blogs and organizations in every community that are there to help with your questions.

Once you get over the initial transition of figuring out just how on earth you’re going to do all this (you’ve got this!), it’s time for a plan – and time to implement a structured routine.

Whether you’ve always been a structured parent, or you struggle with organization, the key is to sit down with your kids and lay down some ground rules.

For kids who have always been in public school, it may be difficult for them to look at Mom or Dad as teacher — and vice-versa.

If you ask any veteran homeschool parent, they’ll tell you it’s important to have a designated space for your homeschool.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but even if you’re in this for just a few weeks, it creates an environment of structure.

Whether it’s your dining room table or a guest room with a desk, make it fun, no matter how short or long your homeschool journey is.

Give each child a basket or bin of their own to corral their school supplies and assignments.  That way, you have a “mobile” school in case that space is needed for something else – like dinner at the table.

One thing that successful homeschool parents have found is the need to be creative and flexible.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to involve sitting at a desk or table for hours on end.

Whether you have mandated lesson plans from your child’s teacher or you’re using other resources, your homeschool day is only limited by your imagination.

Carry your school baskets or bins outside on a sunny day and work on the deck.  Pitch a tent in the backyard and set up a camp table for projects – or build an indoor fort out of blankets for studying or reading time.

You are parent and teacher, and even though structure and rules are important, the one-on-one attention your child will receive in your homeschool means work is usually completed more efficiently.

Most veteran homeschool parents find they can complete classwork in a couple of hours and then find creative things to do around the house to reinforce class lessons, teach life skills, or just complete independent study.

Studying a particular artist?  Set up an easel outside and have your child reproduce a famous work.  Working on science?  Explore habitats outside, create charts and graphs of what you find, or make a collage out of natural materials you pick up on a nature walk.

For younger kids, math problems can be figured out in a concrete way with beads or Legos – or even colorful candies.

Most of us can handle elementary school work and be innovative in finding ways to get lessons done, but what about those moody middle and high schoolers?  Let’s face it, most of us parents have no idea how to do algebra or calculus or chart taxonomic ranks of the animal kingdom.

This is where your network of family and friends can step in to help.

Is your neighbor a professor who is stuck home just like you?  Set up a video chat to get help with a lesson.  Do you have a friend who is experienced in homeschooling?  Give them a call and ask them for recommendations.

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And even though many libraries across the nation are closed, some still offer online tutoring for local students.  There are also multiple tutoring services available from other organizations that can assist with the subjects that aren’t quite in your wheelhouse.

Don’t forget to take advantage of older siblings’ knowledge of subjects so they can help younger ones.  It’s a great bonding experience for them, and sharing the load will help if you are teaching multiple kids at home.

One of the most important things to remember when homeschooling your children is to give yourself grace.

Parents are their child’s first – and most important — teachers, and kids are learning more than you think just by spending time with you.

There will be good days and bad days, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done perfectly or stick to your schedule every moment.

Practice measuring by working on a recipe together.  Build a sculpture out of household scraps.  Show your kids how to sew on a button or change the oil on the car.

Mix it up.  Have fun.  Take breaks and do a fun activity together.  Learning is fluid – it is always happening, even in the less structured moments.

And more likely than not – no matter how much you may doubt yourself – your children will probably look back on this time with fondness.

Focus on creating memories along with those lessons, and enjoy the journey while it lasts.

Your family may enjoy the experience so much, you might choose to become a veteran homeschooler yourself.

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