Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Adventures in Homeschooling

Over the last two weeks, life changed dramatically, especially for parents.  No longer is there the burden of packing lunches and getting the kiddos off to the bus stop.  There are no more sports or after school activities.  Life, as we once knew it, has come to a screeching halt and everything, and everyone is practicing “social-distancing.”    While the announcement of all the cancellations may be saving us from hearing “hot-crossed-buns” on the recorder at the spring concert and from spending hours in the car shuffling kids to activities, it also forcefully employed every parent into being the teacher/principal/janitor/lunch lady and guidance counselor at the International School for the Quarantined.  

For the foreseeable future, parents will be assisting the education of their kids from home.  While this might be a baby step into the adventure of homeschooling, do not run out and buy a denim jumper or a pair of Birkenstocks just yet.  Homeschooling is similar, but not the same, as Quarantined school.  Yes, your kids are “doing school” at home, but the heavy lifting will still be done by the professionals.  You will not be deciding on curriculums or writing lesson plans.  You will not be grading papers or researching the best way to teach something.  You will never have to answer the question, “What?  No school today?”  You did not just sign on to bear the entire responsibility of educating.  Instead, you were forced to become a more hands-on, active participant in your child’s education. (This is a good thing.)  For many, this challenge is a daunting task. However, do not forget that at some point (hopefully soon), you send those tiny humans back to school and you will be officially unemployed as their stand-in teacher.

Knowing all this doesn’t make your job any easier.  Educating kids at home is hard work and when this is mixed with many parents trying to work from home, we might have a recipe for disaster.  

In hopes of alleviating some of the struggles and diffusing a few of the problems that come with educating children at home, we have interviewed a few professional/fulltime homeschool parents.  We gathered some of their tips and advice that might help you survive.  

·      Pajamas are a completely acceptable school outfit. 
·      Cleaning out the fridge can double as a chemistry experiment.
·      Give them extra credit for cleaning their rooms.
·      Sorting laundry, cooking, balancing checkbooks are all necessary life skills…bring them in on the fun.  
·      Take small breaks.  Take long breaks.  When educating at home there are no bells!
·      No shirt, no shoes…no problem!
·      It is ok to NOT be amazing.
·      Don’t add to the stress.  Just like working from home does not look the same as it does form the office, this does not have to look like “real” school.  
·      Install fluorescent lighting all over your house.  The health benefits are amazing and it will make your kids feel like they are really at school. 
·      Buy lunch trays and serve sloppy Joes and tots every day for lunch.  Make them pay in hugs and kisses.  
·      Use a kitchen timer and have a set time for each subject.  
·      You do NOT have to post every little thing on IG or FB.
·      It is OK to use the television to take a “break.”  For you OR for them.
·      Nothing beats a little reading and snuggle time.  
·      It is completely acceptable to hide in the bathroom (or closet) to find a little mental clarity.    
·      You want the Netflix password?…. I need your math done.  
·      Build a fort and do school in the “woods.”  
·      Block YouTube on your router while it is school time. 
·      Give them their own “workspace.”
·      Don’t forget you once were their age and struggled with basic math.  
·      When all else fails… resort to bribes and payoffs.     
·      Read a family book together that has a movie attached to it.  Read the book and then watch the movie.  Discuss the differences.  
·      As much as you need space (even a few minutes alone), so do your kids.  Structure some “alone time” in the day for them to play/read/craft.  It will do wonders. 
·      Remember when YOU are frustrated, so are your kids.  Take a break!  
·      Let them get bored (i.e. take the technology away) and then tell them to use their imagination.  Step back and watch what happens.  Don’t forget you grew up without an iPad or the internet and turned out just fine.  
·      Start and end each day by praying, out loud, for yourself and for your kids!

And finally, know that you are gifted this time by God.  Enjoy every moment, enjoy the laughter, play a few board games.  Remember, no matter how hard things might seem, no matter how close the walls get, no matter how many days you go between showering, in the middle of every printer malfunction, every meal, every load of laundry, every internet question, the bill, taxes, and the news…whatever you are feeling, it’s okay.  Own those feelings.  They are real.  They are yours.  And then remember… Jesus has not even for one second left you, nor has He turned His eyes from you.   He has you & you got this!  

“Children are not a distraction from the more important work.  They are the most important work.”
                        - C.S. Lewis

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