Feeling overwhelmed and lost as to where to begin? Feeling like you aren’t cut out to school from home? This is completely understandable, and quite frankly the majority of new homeschoolers have probably felt this way at some point under normal circumstances (myself included). These uncertainties are often worked out through trial and error during the first year or two. However, with the Covid-19 Outbreak, schooling at home has been thrown into the laps of everyone quite unexpectedly. So there are going to be bumps in the road, but you will overcome them.
Please understand, with us all being quarantined, homeschooling has had to take on a major change itself, which has been hard on our community. Although it is called “home” school, normally we have a lot of field trips, classes, and co-ops that we attend outside our home with our friends. These experiences deeply enrich the homeschooling experience and build wonderful, lasting friendships. As these have all had to be cancelled, it saddens me that you don’t get the chance to experience this part of homeschooling. What I can do though is share some tips that work for my family, in hopes to give you some ideas to make your day run more smoothly.
- Break up the work. Since every day is essentially the same now, I’ve decided to divide our work up over all seven days of the week. This way the children have more time to play, every day. In this way the kids won’t be left with too many hours to fill on the weekend leading to boredom. With smaller work loads you can establish a daily routine and everyone can get into a rhythm. My children complain less seeing that there is not as much on their plate for the day. Bare in mind, every day does not have to be the same subjects/ activities. Switch it up to prevent monotony using a loop.
- Loop. You don’t have to teach every subject every day. I like to put some of our subjects in a Loop. We cover math, reading, writing and spelling every day (5 days a week). However, we have science, state study, and history on a loop. Which means that if we study Science on Monday, Tuesday states, Wednesday history, then Thursday we pick back up with science and so on. This way all of the subjects get studied without long breaks between.
- Combine subjects. For example if we are studying history today, have your child read the lesson and demonstrate comprehension by writing out answers to questions or writing a summary. This knocks out history, reading comprehension and writing altogether.
- Journal writing. This is a great time to be keeping a journal. Some of the days you may have them write summaries from lessons/books read. Other days you may give them a writing prompt to get them started (For fun, fill a jar with writing prompts and have them draw one on given days). Yet other days you may want them to write from the heart about how they are feeling/dealing. Make it your own. If you don’t have a notebook handy, they can create their own book. Here`s one way for create one: https://pin.it/1fHzc0G For the younger children, it is nice to provide space for them to draw a picture to go with their story. We like these journals from Amazon: https://amzn.to/33IU6d4 (Note as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases)
- Silent reading/Quiet time. While we love our children very much, at times the noise and busyness can wear on us. Take time daily for everyone to have a little break. Designate at least 30 minutes to an hour for silent reading. If you have children who are too young to read, this can be quiet play time or nap time (if still napping).
- Right now Time Kids is offering free subscriptions until the end of the school year! https://time.com/tfk-free/
- Give each child a little individual teaching time. My children, for the most part, can work on math and journal writing on their own. They are expected to do these after breakfast. Then I take one of my children to work on their other subjects that require my help/my teaching. While we do this, my other elementary aged child gets to play with my 4 year old. After an hour the elementary aged children flip-flop. This way my 4 year old has company and the other two get breaks from their work. There are times too, during the day, where all 3 of the children are working at the table together. I find doing school at home encourages the younger siblings to want to learn and do.
- Older children read to the younger siblings. I think it’s nice to have the older siblings read to the younger children. It’s good practice for the older children to read aloud and with emphasis to engage the young ones. Plus the young ones love being read to by big brother/sister.
- Read aloud to all of your children together daily. There are so many benefits to reading to your children! We already know the benefits of reading to our babies and little ones; however, it benefits your older children as well. At the moment, it may be difficult to get books to read to your family, so you may want to check out the possibility of borrowing ebooks and audiobooks online from your local library. My family highly recommends Farmer Boy by Laura Wilder Ingles and Matilda by Roald Dahl.
- Arts and Crafts. Include arts/crafts into your day. Let your children express their creativity. Every day doesn’t have to be a planned out craft or art class. No, just give them some material and see what they create/build. Materials can be the usual paper, crayons, scissors,etc. Some days throw in some different items like glue, popsicle sticks, tissue paper, ect. They will surprise you with what they come up with.
- Movement/Exercise. It is hard for children to sit still. Therefore, we always incorporate some movement into our studies. For example, my kids love hopper balls, so from time to time we use them when practicing flashcards. They hop in circles, stop at a card, give the answer and then hop around for the next. Yes this takes longer but they are learning, exercising and having fun! Another example is when we learned about verbs, the kids acted out different action verbs. It’s fun to get moving and you can keep it simple with:
- Follow the leader
- indoor obstacle course
- Simon says
- Don’t let the balloon touch the ground
- One of our favorites, animal movements. I call out an animal and everyone moves around a circle through all the rooms acting like the animal (frog – they all leap around until the next animal is called).
- If you have Netflix a great show for little ones is Bo On The Go. The kids are asked to do different movements as they go on an adventure. My 4 year old loves this show and I get a kick out of watching her.
- Join your children and get moving too. Exercise is not only great for your body but also your mind and mood. It doesn’t need to be a big fancy workout. It can be jumping jacks and high knees or anything that gets your heart rate up.
Good luck with your schooling adventure. Remember, if today doesn’t go well, no worries, tomorrow is another day. Make a few changes and give it another try. I hope you find a routine that works for your family, and enjoy this precious time together. When you feel frustrated never lose sight of the fact that you are a smart, strong, loving parent. How do I know this? Because you are searching for a way to make things better for your family. You can do this!
It’s beauty I seek,
When the days seem bleak.
A weed some may see.
For I believe,
Love shines vivdly.
~ ©2020 Heather, The Grateful Heart