Shakespeare was on point when he said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” While the first two points you may or may not identify with, the latter is true for all of us. The opportunity thrusted upon us to reform, reinvent, and reunite our families is presented to us. If you are parents who are thrusted into homeschooling due to COVID-19, please know there is abundant help for you.
While the challenges of homeschooling can seem daunting, time-consuming, and especially overwhelming, I’d like to suggest that this time out from school and extracurriculars leads to the ability to rejuvenate families with what really matters: each other. This precious time allows kids to just be, to wind down, to think, contemplate, and ask questions…with you. Our American lives are so spent going hither to fast-paced that parents don’t often get the chance to pour their lives into their children by just being in their presence for an extended period of time, in an atmosphere of learning or wonder. Now is the time to pour your history, thoughts, ideas, and wisdom into your children. To reignite relationships and bonds with the distraction of the outside world diminished. It will shape them more beautifully than all the extracurricular activities in the world. Have courage.
We homeschool moms are here for you. There is an abundance of information on the web about homeschooling and I, frankly, find it overwhelming. I also understand you may not be in this for the long haul and need a quick start. The advice I’d give to you is different from what I would say to parents who plan to make a career of homeschooling.
First, find a mentor. You need someone as a sounding board and to field questions as you journey with your kids. If you don’t know anyone personally, check out some blogs from homeschool moms and Donum Dei Classical Academy for excellent advice on all things homeschool related.
Second, set a schedule for your kids that includes physical activity outside, reading for fun, developing hobbies like gardening, painting, building, etc. Find out what interests them and give them incentives to explore those interests. Set a limit per day on media. Foster online learning groups with FaceTime-type programs so that kids stay connected with each other. My daughter gets through chemistry with the online help from her cohort. Keep kids in a learning environment at home like the kitchen table and not in their bedrooms. Accountability is key.
Third, consider forming a team of other moms to share teaching responsibilities. If you have multiple kids, homeschooling can be a challenge. Your children will need you near them. While older kids can get going online, littles need hands-on learning and teaching. Forming a teaching team develops community and shares the load. It can be done on Zoom, too! Early in the morning, after the kids are in bed, and while other moms are teaching is a good time to do your own work. I often do my work with my daughter beside me doing hers. Developing patience for interruption during the work day is just part of the challenge, but is a good muscle to build anyway.
Lastly, and I speak from experience of where I messed up as a homeschool mom, realize that kids learn different subjects at their own pace and that is okay! They’ll get it before they go off to college. It is easy to be in a “just get it done” mode when we are used to our fast-paced, production-driven work environments. Kids don’t learn that way. They need a slower pace, constant reminding, repetition, encouragement, plus a determined, consistent hand to adhere to the schedule set for them. It is a paradigm shift from our working world that is essential. Keep accountable to other moms in this.
As a final word, don’t get caught up in a comparison game. All kids and families are different. One method works for some, but not others. That is normal. Our differences give us uniqueness and options! I’ve learned so much from other moms in areas I’ve never thought of.
As I write this, I find that I have a lot of growing to do in the area of homeschooling. Some days I get it right and others I don’t. There is so much grace! As Ms. Stacey said to Anne in Anne of Green Gables, “Each day is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” Just start anew.
Remember you are not alone. God gives you what you need for every season. He gives grace for now in the now. You’ve got this. It’ll grow you as you face the challenge. You just might find it’s the greatest blessing of your life with lifelong memories.
Enrollment in the Distance Education Program for the remainder of this school year (ending July 9). We have reopened enrollment at this time as a temporary service to families in need and will consider potential partnerships with all parents who meet our partnership criteria and whose children can learn successfully in a distance education space. Click here for more information. All application criteria and tuition details apply.