Hi everyone. I shared this post about homeschooling in the time of Covid-19 over at the From the Mixed-Up Files blog, but thought I’d post it here in its entirety for anyone who missed it.
For more resources and lesson plans to assist you as you navigate homeschooling amid Covid-19, please visit From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.
Before I became an author, I was a teacher, and I spent the last years of my career creating and facilitating a program that worked with homeschooling parents. So, I figured I’d brush off some that experience and share some simple strategies to help those of you who have suddenly found yourself not only trying to work at home but trying to homeschool your kids as well. I hope some of these suggestions prove helpful to you in the weeks (and months) to come.
10 SUGGESTIONS (+ 1)
FOR SUDDENLY HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KID(S)
1. Breathe. This is a strange and stressful time for everyone. It’s okay to not be sure how to navigate all the things being thrown at you. Take time to decompress, get extra sleep, and go easy – on yourself, first. Then you can go easy on the rest of the family.
2. Take a break from the academic pressures – theirs and yours. Focus on creating a calm home environment. Take some time to find your family’s rhythm in all of this. Help your kids adjust to being home and help them understand your needs, too.
3. Set up some soothing and fun family-time activities. Play games. Work on a puzzle. Watch a movie. Do some reading aloud. Anything that brings you together in a non stressful, non productive way.
4. Figure out a reasonable chore structure. Give every family member a job that helps keep the family healthy and organized. A sense of control is important for people of all ages. Help everyone feel they are doing their part and that they are assisting in maintaining the well being of your family.
5. Do a good thing for someone else. Maybe someone at home with you. Maybe a neighbor or family member who lives elsewhere. Set up a video chat, a phone call, drop a note or picture into email or text, help someone order grocery delivery. Send someone who is isolated a fun gift from an online store if you can afford it.
6. Do the parts of school your kids like. Read. Draw. Play trivia games. Solve fun and silly math problems. Do a science experiment. Build something. Plan the family meals. Cook. Play an instrument if you have one. Make an instrument if you don’t. Learn a new language. Explore a topic your child has a deep interest in. (Now is the time to do that deep dive into dinosaurs or movie making or the physics of flight). Take pictures. Read a whole book series or everything by a particular author. Create a home art gallery. Write and perform a play. Start a blog/vlog/YouTube channel. Write a story. Write a book. (Camp Nanowrimo starts April 1). Make some art. Learn to knit or crochet or whatever other craft sounds like fun. Grow something: Flowers, vegetables, sprouts, it doesn’t matter. Just grow something you all can care for and watch thrive.
7. Move your bodies. Incorporate dance breaks, room run-arounds, scavenger hunts, and exercise of any kind into your day. Try to get some sun and fresh air if you can do it safely.
8. Once you’ve sorted out the family’s rhythms, gradually set up a schedule for your day. Be prepared to be flexible. News, stress, etc. is going to take a toll. There’s no use forcing anyone to study if they’re not going to retain any of it. Sometimes the best thing at the moment is to watch a movie; sometimes the best thing is to take a nap; and, yes, sometimes the best thing is for everyone is to stare at their screens and zone out. It’s okay.
Just be sure to break up your schedule with fun and rest and movement, and set up some rewards for completing your task/job. Even small rewards can make a big difference.
9. If your kid’s school sent work home, you’ll need to figure out how your child works best. Some kids adjust readily to moving from traditional school to online. They simply work through the subjects with breaks in between just like a normal (but often shorter) school day. Other kids struggle. Again, flexibility is key. See what works for your kids and start moving them in that direction incrementally if at all. You don’t have to do it all in one day (or one week).
Another option is to treat work sent home like you do homework at first. Your family probably already has a system in place for that. Just break up the work and time the way you do with regular homework (especially weekend homework). If you’re overwhelmed by all of it, setting it aside is okay, too. This is new to everyone. Teachers will understand. If you’re overwhelmed by all of it but really want some structure, try to stick with the reading and the math. Math tends to be the place kids fall behind, so if you can keep up the math facts/problem solving skills you’ll be ahead of the game.
10. Don’t try to fill the teacher role. Be the parent. That’s more than enough work for anyone. Trust me. The last thing you need is to add a teacher/student struggle to your relationship right now.
+1. Finally, hang in there. There will be bumps and tears along the way as everyone tries to sort this out, but there will also be a whole lot of connection and a whole lot of love. Embrace those parts. In the long run, those moments are what truly matter – not the lesson plans.
As always, feel free to comment below with questions or with ideas and resources that have been working for you. We’re all in this together, so let’s share what we can. <3