In the coming weeks, an entire new population of families and nannies, by no choice of their own, are going to become full time home educators.
I saw a quote the other day that sums up this entire situation perfectly… “We need to be real with ourselves. This is not homeschooling our children, this is homeschooling our children during a pandemic, this is serious stuff. It’s super hard, and we mama’s and caregivers are stressed, exhausted, and terrified.”
I wanted to start this article with that quote because this truly isn’t homeschooling. This new normal of families having to educate their children at home is happening because they actually physically cannot go to school. A lot of us didn’t choose this, nor did we ever think we would be qualified for it, but that is ok. Because guess what? You can do this, maybe not perfectly or how you would imagine it, but you can and you will.
So let’s break this down together.
Step one… Breathe
It is going to be okay. We are all in this together, and I am certain that your school district, charter school or private school will set you up with options, ideas and resources for exactly what your child is going to need to accomplish and work on. Because of that, I am not here to tell you what curriculum to use, or even what homeschool co-ops you can attend (because well, we can’t actually even attend those) but I am here to share ways to intentionally learn and be present. It isn’t going to be easy, but the good news is, it isn’t supposed to be. And while it is going to challenge you and stretch you, you do have a finish line. And unless you decide the homeschool life is the life for you, they will go back to school…eventually.
5 tips on how to make this new normal work
1. Have realistic expectations
When you first bring your kids home from school it is going to be really hard to change your mindset from the school setting to the home setting. We are conditioned to believe that school is from 8am-3pm (or whatever your hours are) Monday through Friday, and they should be sitting behind a desk and completing their work in a timely manner. However, this is likely not how it will work in your home. First, you probably only have one to maybe four or so “students” in your home. This means the amount of work time will be drastically shortened. What would take a teacher with 25+ students seven hours to do, will likely only take you three to maybe four hours of focused time to accomplish with your smaller “class” size.
You may also find that your child is more productive at different times of the day, making a set schedule something really hard to follow. For example, you may find that they work well in the morning after breakfast some days, and other days they may need a little bit of outdoors time followed by school in the afternoon. This is why we have to set realistic expectations, and hold those expectations loosely. Whatever time and location works (on any given day), understand that it most likely won’t look the way you think it should, nor will any two days be the same. And that is okay. Be flexible, lower your expectations, and trust that any amount of work that gets done is okay, you can always come back to it!
2. Know that they can learn anywhere
While I am sure that your school will be setting up some kind of online forum or workbook style learning, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn at home. You can practice fractions and math through cooking and baking. You can go on a hike or nature walk and learn about the types of animals or reptiles that live close to you. Google and Pinterest are filled with at home science experiments and depending on the age of your child you can supervise and assist, or leave them to learn how to follow directions and formulate ideas on their own.
When we are intentional and really focus on the opportunities of learning that surround us we discover that there truly are so many and you actually don’t even have to be in the walls of a school or even behind a computer to experience them all.
3. Read. Read, Read
Honestly if you can accomplish one thing at home, reading is the biggest and best thing to focus on. You can read together, alone, out loud, silently, or in any way possible and it will be beneficial for your student. Another great option for your child is audiobooks. There are loads of apps you can download on any device but a few of my favorite free apps are Hoopla (https://www.hoopladigital.com), Overdrive (https://www.overdrive.com) and during the Covid-19 crisis Audible is providing free audiobooks for students (https://stories.audible.com/start-listen). These audiobooks allow for something you can have playing while kids do art or play, and even gives you a break in the day while making lunch or snacks!
4. Have designated outdoors/active time
Get your kids moving! They are used to being constantly stimulated while they are at school so you can expect the transition to home comes with a serious need to expend energy. You will want to have regular breaks in your day so they can move and get fresh air and even just give you a break. While getting together with friends isn’t something that can be done right now, you can do video conferencing with their friends via the zoom app (https://zoom.us) and they can do virtual playdates, or game dates, or even play different sports games together virtually on the computer.
Getting them outside is going to provide you with a breather, and them with the opportunity to get their energy out, have a little fun, and soak up some vitamin d to support their immune system! I also highly recommend Cosmic yoga on Amazon prime! My kids love it and it gets them moving while using their imagination!
5. Use the resources
People have been homeschooling for a long time before this covid-19 crisis, and they will be homeschooling for a long time after it. So trust that there are plenty of free resources to keep your child busy and keep learning fun. Here are just a few of my favorites.
- Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org) free resources for every grade, subject, and interest. From math to computer coding this website has personalized resources for your learner!
- Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool (https://allinonehomeschool.com) free curriculum if you decide that you want to add anything extra in. I truly believe less is more but if you want to supplement their day with some learning about a subject they love, this is a great resource.
- Free virtual field trips (https://www.thoughtco.com/virtual-field-trips-4160925) this is a fun list of virtual field trips to places like the space station and white house!
- Google and Youtube search anything that interests your child and print out fact sheets or let them explore, or even put on some documentaries or youtube videos that dive deeper into their given interests.
Embrace and enjoy this time
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be overwhelming or hard. There isn’t a list of expectations you as a mama/nanny and new home educator have to follow. We are all figuring this out together and we need to remember that through crisis and trauma coming together as a family is the best possible thing for all of us. Gather your family close, create opportunities for curiosity and growth, trust the process and remember, “Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places” so create those spaces and opportunities mama.
Choose to fill this once in a lifetime pandemic with memories of laughter and togetherness and experiences that they will take forward with them as they grow. This is only a season, one where we are in it together, and one that will end. You can do this, with grace and ease, and come out the other side as a stronger more unified family.
Sending health and wellness to you and yours!