My heart goes out to all the moms who, by no choice of their own, have been suddenly thrust into the world of homeschooling due to COVID-19 quarantines. When mom and kids are not used to being together 24/7, an unexpected necessity to do so can be challenging on many levels. I remember when I first adapted to a homeschooling lifestyle. Now, nearly 20 years later, I smile when I recall some of the things I was highly worried about at the time that are no longer even on my radar of concerns. (Sort of like when you had your first child and boiled EVERYTHING, but by child number three, you were wiping the Binky on your jeans and thinking it “good to go.” lol)
It’s hard when life throws a major curve ball your way. I believe in you. You’ll get through this and so will your kids. While this is definitely a crisis, remember that, like most crises, it’s temporary. Also, remember that you are definitely not alone in your struggle. In addition to other parents, Hot Mess Writers who happen to be veteran homeschooling moms, (I know of two others besides myself!), and your school district officials and faculty, God is on your side, too. Hopefully, these practical ideas can help you and your children as you adjust to your new (albeit, temporary) ‘normal’ routine.
First, words of encouragement for parents
I’m fairly certain that if you were to survey other experienced homeschooling parents, they would not only “ditto” this advice, they’d recall a time in their journeys when they needed this advice, as well. As you navigate the coronavirus quarantine with your children, keep these things in mind:
- Bad day does not equate to bad mom or dad. You’ll fare best if you understand from the start that being home with your kids 24/7 doesn’t mean you should expect (or even strive for) perfection. Your family has experienced an abrupt change in your daily routine, which means every person in your household is going to face the situation in his or her own, unique way. Some days may be quite pleasant, giving you a sense of accomplishment and success while others feel like a complete disaster — it’s okay.
- Don’t expect this experience at home to resemble outside school or work (if you’ve also had to adjust to working from home). Try to go into it all without expectation and let it naturally unfold so that you can find a routine that works best for your family.
- We parents who used to have children in outside schools have learned that a period of debriefing must take place when you bring your children home to learn. Don’t feel like you have to jump right into a structured academic schedule. Give everyone (including yourself) some time to get used to being together — pray, spend time outdoors (in your yard, so you don’t break the quarantine) and rest.
- I highly recommend getting dressed every day as though you were going to work or school outside the home. It helps set the tone and energize your team — and remember — you are a team!
Your journey won’t be exactly the same as any other family’s. You can inspire, encourage and support each other, however, because you all can likely relate to one another’s experiences.
Creative homeschooling ideas you can try
If you’re still waiting for your school district to connect you with online classes or if you want to ease your way into things, you can give the ideas on the following list, as well as the ones on this page, a try:
- Create a ‘Random Subject Jar’ by letting everyone write topic ideas on slips of paper. Make the topics things you’ve always wanted to learn about. They should be random, as the point is to study things your kids wouldn’t typically study in the classroom, such as “How potato chips are made” or “A day in the life of a Swiss Guard soldier.” Choose a day or two a week, take turns drawing slips out of the jar, then spend time together Googling and learning as much as you can in a half hour or so about the chosen topic.
- Make Fridays nationality day! Each Friday, choose and learn about a different country. If you’re able (by preparing in advance and if you can obtain ingredients at the store) cook a meal together that is customary to the land you’ve chosen. Use online tools to listen to the language of the people in your chosen country or music, or view artwork, etc.
- Encourage everyone to journal their way through the quarantine. Try your hand at poetry or writing songs. You can keep your writings private like a diary or share your journals with each other, which can help you all understand how each person’s feeling.
- Another simple, enjoyable and educational way to pass the time while you’re at home is to create nature journals. Inspect your yard for insects, plants and critters, then sketch them, learn about them and write about them in your nature study journals.
- Unit Studies are also great tools for homeschooling. Choose a topic, such as “Westward Expansion.” Read stories written in or about the era. Create math, science, vocabulary, composition and art lessons that pertain the same topic.
While you might feel like you have no choice regarding quarantine, you do have control over your attitude toward your own circumstances. Why not make the best of it? When your children are grown, they will recall these days of national crisis and tell their own kids and grand kids stories about them. Help your kids build memories they’ll be glad to share. It’s a solemn time and the crisis is real, to be sure, but you don’t want all their memories to be sad or scary ones, do you? You’ve got this! (And, if you feel like you don’t, do not hesitate to reach out for support!)