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Written by guest blogger Jes Younghouse
When I think back to how simple life was in March of 2019 (even with five young kids), if someone would have told me in just 365 days I’d be faced with homeschooling my kids, I would have laughed in their face.
Fast forward to March 2020, and well, we all know what happened. Most of us went to sleep one night being regular ‘ole parents and woke up the next morning being homeschooling parents. From the title you’ve gathered I’m no homeschooler, so these tips I’m about to give are just a few things that helped us survive in the spring and are by no means the tips of a professional! But I hope the following tips will help you navigate and spur some more ideas to get you through the coming weeks of uncertainty around going back to school.
1. Get up and get ready in the morning.
I’ll be honest. The first morning of homeschool I wasn’t going to get out of my PJs. So imagine my surprise when my husband was making everyone get up and get ready as if it were a normal day. And thank goodness he did. Getting up, getting ready, and being intentional about starting the day off on the right foot with a normal routine and good breakfast got us through each week. Bonus: we got a flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
2. Make a schedule and let the kids have some say in it.
I’m a free spirit and like living my life without a schedule. But, in order to move through each day with purpose and to ensure we were doing what we needed to do, we made a schedule on a big piece of paper that we taped to the wall. It was especially important for us to let our kids help decide what times we did some of our activities. Anytime you can give kids an opportunity to take some ownership, you give them the opportunity to learn how to take on some responsibility.
3. Incorporate Housework.
Perhaps some of the best learning that happened was learning how to take care of the household. Spending so much time at home gave us the opportunity to give each kid some responsibilities in doing chores. My kids, who are younger, were able to participate in washing windows, putting dishes in the sink after lunch, cleaning rooms, and even some vacuuming. Older kids can learn how to mow the lawn, do the laundry, and deep clean rooms like the kitchen and bathroom. Disclaimer: little kids can learn the motions and importance of cleaning. However, when my kids did the windows or vacuumed, I usually had to go back over it.
4. Field trips.
Use the zoo for science. Use a playground or walk for recess. Take a trip for history or geography. One of the best parts about homeschooling was being able to get out (safely) and learn outside of the box. We know the worksheets, paperwork, and reading have to get done, but don’t be afraid to use other resources in your community or explore a new community to incorporate some other types of learning.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Towards the end of our spring homeschooling journey our kids were sick of us and we were sick of teaching. We asked a couple of older kids to help our kids finish their work. What is it about our kids listening to everyone else except their parents?! Anyway, it’s important to remember that the most important thing about this unexpected homeschool experience is to build relationships with our kids. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, grandparents, babysitters, etc. to take a break from the struggle of getting all the homework done.