Tips for Navigating Homeschooling Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak
Sponsored by :: Apparent Insurance
“I would never homeschool my child.”
Confession: this very statement has been uttered from my mouth countless times.
Raise your hand if one of the many plans you’ve had for your child didn’t exactly unfold the way you envisioned. This, friends, is my life. 🙋🏼♀️
I always knew there was something different about my now six-year-old son, Colin. We spent years trying to figure him out, and it was this past fall that we finally received some answers. One of our biggest parenting challenges, though, has been Colin’s education. He has the perfect storm of diagnoses and disorders. Along with an insanely high IQ, these factors makes him unable to thrive in a classroom setting at this time. After a whole lot of soul searching, we decided to take the homeschool route for him. We have some difficult days, but it truly has been incredible for us in unexpected ways.
With everything happening in the world regarding the COVID-19 outbreaks, my Facebook newsfeed is saturated with new posts and groups popping up about homeschooling. Parents are worried about how in the world they’re going to follow any semblance of normalcy as they embark on this journey.
It’s terrifying, right?
After all, this wasn’t part of our plan.
Homeschooling can test your limits and push you in ways that you didn’t know you could be pushed — and this is when it’s voluntary. To be thrown into something so unexpectedly is incredibly challenging. Children are supposed to attend school, aren’t they? How in the world could we as parents possibly substitute a teacher?
These thoughts might be swirling through your brain, and it’s safe to say that many of us don’t feel qualified for the tasks that now lay before us.
As a mom who dove straight into the world of homeschooling when it was never part of my heart or parenting plan, I shared all of these same fears. In fact, some days I still have them! I get more confident each day, but they’re still lurking in the background. I therefore wanted to take a moment to compile some helpful tips to hopefully assist you on your own homeschooling journey, whatever it may look like. Please keep in mind that I am one person, and I am sharing my heart and my experiences. It’s always best to do what works for you and your family.
- Set a rhythm, not a schedule. I know, I know. Everyone is going crazy printing color coded schedules or drawing time blocked tasks on white boards right now. I get it, because I was there, too. I initially felt the intense need to replicate a classroom environment at home, but not only is that unrealistic, it’s also unnecessary. After all, part of the benefits of learning from home are the flexibility and small “class” size. Base your rhythm off of your family’s unique needs and internal clocks. What would it look like if you just let their natural rhythm unfold and ditch the schedule until they are ready to stop? On the flip side, if free play is resembling a war zone with tears and screams (we’ve all been there), there’s no reason not to jump into the next part of your day sooner than the schedule permits.
- Embrace your child’s moods, interests, and “off” days. I’m super guilty of feeling frustration towards my kids when they’re having a particularly moody day. I have to stop and remind myself on a regular basis that just like me, they’re human beings with complex emotions, just learning to navigate the world. If you’re sensing resistance from lessons, don’t be afraid to redirect your day. If your daughter doesn’t love math and she’s having a tough morning, it’s okay to substitute for a different lesson or another activity altogether. In fact, sometimes it’s therapeutic to step away from academics altogether on the “off” days. I’ve found that if I add nature or water to the day they often turn their bad mood around.
- Start your day with physical activity. I truly wish all schools did this, because I think it’s so beneficial to kids. Right now as I write this post, I realize that we are still permitted to go to parks, on hikes, etc. with the recommended social distancing precautions. If not, stream a free yoga class or build an obstacle course! Get creative.
- Don’t be afraid to deviate. If the school has supplied specific work for your kids, that’s fantastic. If not, don’t be afraid to explore what’s out there. There are so many great secular and religious based curriculums. Tons of learning apps are giving away free months while kids are out of school. Homeschooling, at its core, is about embracing who your child is and giving them specific educational tools that are catered to their learning (and to your teaching) style.
- Don’t underestimate the power of self-directed learning. Use this time to ask your kids what they’re interested in learning about! Watch YouTube videos about the topics and see if you have any current books at home to support their interests. Snag a blank notebook or paper and start a field journal. Write poems and stories; if they can’t write yet, have them dictate their words while you act as the scribe. Think of yourself and how much more passion you have for subjects when you’re interested in them.
- Use your village. Call upon others when you need help. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation! Are you great at English while you have a friend who excels in Math? Swap lessons with them (virtually for now), or ask them to email over some great resources that they think would be beneficial for your kids while you do the same for theirs. It’s ok to enlist help when you need it.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate education altogether during this time and enroll your child in an online learning platform. Many people don’t realize that there are accredited schools online with engaging videos that teach your child lessons appropriate to his or her grade or level. They also administer quizzes and have resources for when your child needs extra help. This is especially helpful for working parents who aren’t able to be hands on with their child’s learning during the day.
- Taking it a step further, don’t be afraid to just not school. Seriously. If you want to spend this time with your kids letting them relax and independently pursue their own interests, I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s a group of homeschoolers known as unschoolers who very much believe in an informal approach to learning where the learner chooses what he or she wants to study. Your particular approach doesn’t need to have a label, and it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. You can mix and match however works best for your family.
- Complete lessons in fun places! This creates more engagement and makes it feel special. Remember that you don’t need to sit at a desk or kitchen table to make learning happen. Build a fort and read books inside it. Snuggle on the couch for math. Let your child choose a sparkly gel pen for handwriting, as well as a comfy spot in the house to do said writing.
- There will be days when you do absolutely nothing. Embrace them. Rejoice in the stillness they bring. We all need to stop sometimes in order to function, and that’s ok. This isn’t a time to set unrealistic expectations for yourself and your family. You need to make sure that you’re truly giving yourself grace.
- Remember that you are more than enough for them. Remember when I mentioned that many of us aren’t teachers? Teachers are incredible, and we’d be entirely lost without them. Remember that you’re not managing a classroom — you are learning with your child, who you are an expert on. You already have all the tools inside yourself to give your kids what they need. Don’t forget that it’s ok for YOU to learn along the way, too. The best part about homeschooling is rediscovering concepts with our kids as we follow their passions.
You’ve got this, parents.
There is no wrong way to do this homeschooling. You and your child are partners in this journey, no matter how short of a time that it is, and you’re going to do an incredible job.
And thanks to Apparent Insurance, the company designed by parents for parents, for bringing us this helpful info. As parents, they know that life changes and families evolve. That’s why they designed Apparent to evolve with its members and the times.
That means having benefits like rental car matches (no more mini cars to replace a minivan!), a teen driver app and partnerships with Aceable for drivers ed, and At-Home Mechanic Services. Because you’ve already got a lot on your plate, and maintaining your vehicle is one less thing you should worry about.
Apparent is here to put parents’ minds at ease during some of life’s most anxious moments. Have you checked out their features and made the switch to Apparent?