Surviving sudden homeschooling—with sanity intact

Surviving sudden homeschooling—with sanity intact

by Rebecca Leach
Stripes Europe

Suddenly being thrust into homeschooling is not what parents were expecting March Madness to mean this year. And yet, here we are!

Your kids are home and you are supposed to be teaching them. Or at least supervising them while they do the work their teacher sent home. No one can tell you for sure how long this will last. And on top of that, things are crazy and stress levels are already high. What’s a parent to do?

Here are five pointers from a veteran homeschool parent to get you through the next little while with your (and your kids’) sanity intact.

Provide a Little Structure

Kids are used to a routine at school, and while you DON’T have to (and shouldn’t try to) replicate public school routines at home, providing a loose structure that allows them to know what to expect during the day will raise everyone’s enjoyment levels. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a list. Put the days of the week across the top and the things you’d like your child to accomplish during the day down the side. Let’s say they need to do math, reading, science and history, plus clean their room and do one chore each day. Next to each job you put a place to mark if they’ve done it that day—five spots each, one for each weekday. And voila! They know what they can expect when they wake up. And you have a structured plan to refer to when you wonder what comes next.

Provide a Little Flexibility

One of the great things about being at home is that you can be more flexible than public schools. Do they need to get dressed before they do schoolwork, or can they work in their pjs a couple of days a week? Do they need to do their schoolwork in a certain order, or can they mix things up and do them in whatever order they pick today? Letting your child be in charge of some things provides them a feeling of control at a time when things might be feeling very out of control. Just be sure to present options that you’ll be fine with them actually picking.

Provide Some Incentives

Another huge positive to homeschooling is the option to work quickly through assignments and move on to more exciting things! When your child finishes her or his list, then what? Do they get to build with LEGO? Play Minecraft? Go for a family hike? Watch a movie? Bake cookies? The possibilities are nearly endless. You could have a different incentive every day or provide options for them to choose from. You could even let them pick a bigger project that they can work on over several days, like making a stop-action movie with their toys or building a pinewood derby car. Pro Tip: Encourage them to pick a variety of free-time incentives rather than doing the same thing every day. Free time is great! But too much of the same thing leads to grouchy kids. And that leads to grumpy parents.

Get Some Exercise

Too much sitting will drive anyone crazy. Get up and do yoga together. (YouTube has great videos for this. Be prepared to laugh together if you’re new to yoga!) Go for a walk. Ride bikes. Get out the soup cans and lift weights. Incorporate jumping jacks and pushups in your lunch routine. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just so long as you and the kids get your blood pumping for at least a few minutes each day.

Remember That You Can Change What Doesn’t Work

Nothing is set in stone. If you start out with a little too much structure and realize you need to lighten up, you can do that! And your days don’t need to all be the same. In fact, here’s another Pro Tip: Shake things up once every week or two. Have a field trip. (To someplace where you can maintain social distancing, of course, like a hike or a bike ride.) Take a day off to have a Star Wars marathon. Even public schools have field trips, days with substitute teachers when the lesson plans aren’t followed, and author visits. Feel free to add a little variety, adjust things as needed, and make it your own.

Bonus Pro Tip: Take a few photos. This will (hopefully!) be your only quarantine homeschool during a global pandemic. This, as they say, is definitely one for the family history books!

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