With so many schools closing in the coming weeks Here are my top tips and encouragement for schooling the kids at home.
I’ve been homeschooling our kids for over a decade. It’s not always easy and I’ve often eyed the school bus as it drove by my house longing for it to take my children too, but in the decade-plus that I”ve done this, I can honestly say there have been more good days than bad. I’ve grown closer to my children than I would have if they were away 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. We’ve made memories, and learned things together that I would have never known if they were away.
I know this is kind of a sudden thing for those of you who have never homeschooled before, but if we look at this short term minor inconvenience as a gift we can use these weeks to build relationships with our kids. I know it’s a struggle if you still have to go to work, or if you’re facing lost pay because you have to stay home. I see you mama, and I’m praying for you. We will get through this together! If you need encouragement, ideas, or help of any kind please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I am happy to chat or talk over the phone.
For now, here is my best homeschool mom advice:
1. establish some sort of routine or schedule. It’s easy for the day to turn to chaos and video games if you don’t do this from day 1. It doesn’t even have to be rigid. Your day doesn’t have to start as early as the school day normally starts. If you have young kids, or boys, I have found when planning my schedule it helps if I plan for breaks and active times. I always try to alternate a quieter, sitting subject or lesson, with a more active, and somewhat less structured activity.
2. Homeschool doesn’t have to look like a classroom! Please don’t sit your kids at the kitchen table with worksheets all day, I promise that will not foster relationships between you and them and it will likely lead to a mutiny! Don’t do it! Learning can look like following a recipe together, reading the Bible and talking about the passage, or if you need a break pop on an audio book (you can get them from the library, or an online service, you have so many options!) Also, GO OUTSIDE! At least once a day if the weather allows go outside walk around play, get some vitamin D (Bonus Vitamin D helps strengthen your immune system!)
3. YouTube is your friend! There are countless history, science, and even math instructional videos. Disclaimer: You may want to screen them first to make sure you agree with the content.
4. Snuggle on the couch together and watch a movie or read a story.
5. The store may be low on some items, but now is the perfect time to plant seeds. You can get potting soil, seeds, and seed starter kits at the hardware store or Walmart. Plant your own food. Lettuces and radishes grow well in early spring and they will be ready to harvest in 30-40 days. For kids a quick crop is great to hold their interest. This is a great science lesson, if you want to tie in a history lesson to this you can look up “victory gardens” maybe even find a YouTube video on it. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers planted gardens to help during times of war and other national crisis. We can do the same today. Some crops are easier than others in my experience, lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes grow well, don’t require any special soil or fertilizers and are insect resistant.
6. Have a sing-a-long (My kids are actually doing this right now in the other room)
7. Learn a new card game together, or pull out the board games and have a game day
8. Go on a nature walk. If there is a nice day you can make a scavenger hunt for your kids and then go outside together and try to find the things on your hunt here are some ideas of things you can look for this time of year: a brown leaf, a bud, a flower in bloom, a song bird, a turtle, a frog (if you are near some sort of water), Mushrooms, animal foot prints, moss, Animal scat (that’s poo, yes I know it’s gross, but trust me boys LOVE this one!), an interesting rock.
9. Reach out for help from others. I’m here for you, if you need ideas or prayer or a kind word of encouragement, we live in the one of the most connected times in history, even though we’re all in our own homes we can still connect. Just this morning I had a video chat with one of my children who is currently living overseas. If I can connect with her, we can connect through the magic of the internet!
10. You are not alone in this! This isn’t a homeschool tip per se, but at the beginning of each school I spend time seeking the Lord and asking for a special verse from His word for our Homeschool. This is our verse for this school year. The Lord gave me this verse back in August 2019 before any of this craziness hit. He is sovereign and He knows what we need before we ask. We’ve been praying and standing on this verse long before a pandemic. God’s word is true and He is unchanging! Cling to Him in these uncertain times.
“But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you Jacob, he who formed you Israel: DO NOT FEAR, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43: 1-3
All of Is. 43 is an encouraging passage to read, but this promise right here has gotten me through many challenging days this school year. God’s word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.