Dear Newly Minted Home Educator,
I am so sorry that you had this situation thrust upon during an incredibly stressful time for, well, pretty much the entire world. Most homeschoolers choose homeschooling either directly or indirectly. You did not. I truly, sincerely am sorry. You have all the challenges of home education without many of the benefits. It’s rough. Again, I’m sorry.
One benefit you do have is that you GET to have your kids home. We have so few days and years of our kids lives where they live in our houses; it’s one of the myriad reasons we homeschool. So think of that at least as a gift-unfettered access to your kids’ time.
Now, take a deep breath and throw out any notions you had about what homeschooling is/isn’t. Again, this is not the way homeschooling usually happens. Homeschooling is a bit of the wild, wild west, but we usually got on the covered wagon voluntarily, not forcibly dropped there with literally the rest of the world and doing it while the culture around you looks nothing like it did two weeks ago. Hang in there, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
I love the book Teaching From Rest by Sarah McKenzie. If you have time or interest in reading it or listening to the audiobook, I highly recommend that you do. Even though home education may not be your long-term plan, it will hopefully help during this time and I think it’s super helpful in considering priorities in your family as a whole. I wish I had read it much longer ago than last summer.
In the book Sarah stresses how important it is to prioritize family relationships and doing what is best for your family. I know this is much harder when you are trying to keep your kid in sync with plans the school is sending home. But here’s the thing-you and your kids and your family are WAY more important than getting that math lesson done or making sure they know how to diagram a sentence or what order the planets are in. You need to consider what is best for your kids AND you while your world is being rocked in significant ways. Again, your world does not look like it did a few weeks back. That’s stressful.
Even if your kids are doing lessons and keeping up with their class virtually, that’s a lot to process and work through. The novelty will wear off and you’ll be dealing with culture stress for them, for you, and probably the dog, too. I know some people may not love this advice, but I’m giving it anyway-when that day comes, give your kids the day off. Give yourself the day off. I know some of your options for stress management don’t exist. A number of ours are gone, too. But finding something that will nourish your family body, mind, and soul will be so good for you. Your kids really will be okay.
We usually simplify when things get more stressful. We’re adjusting back to life here and are living in “seclusion” (that sounds so much better than “lockdown bordering on house arrest”), so I simplified school for our family. I will probably stick with more simple for the rest of the year. That means our kids continue with their grade specific subjects (math, language arts, reading, etc) and for “together subjects” (Bible, history, science, art, etc) we aren’t doing a full curriculum. And you know what? I’m totally okay with it. They’re learning.
And we’re playing lots of board games and reading fun books and doing Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems and going on short walks on the 300m of road in our housing complex because as a family that’s all the further we can go. And it’s okay. The ENTIRE world is experiencing this. It’s not just you. Everyone will miss things this school year. Again, that’s okay. It really, truly will be okay. Yes, education is very important, but your family is more important. Doing what you need to do to make this season work for you should be your top priority.
Plan a timetable for your days and revisit it in a week to tweak it. Do simple meals. Get sleep. Make sure you get dressed in the morning. If your kids wear uniforms, do it at home, too. It will help their mindset for doing school. Do things you can usually do, talk through things you can’t. Hug your kiddos super tight (or not if they’re not into that) and tell them you love and try to take some mental pictures of this moment in time, these days you get to have with them.
If you need someone to cheer you on and tell you to take a couple deep breaths and keep on with it, I’m your girl. I’m quite seasoned at being on the receiving end. I’m also quite seasoned at having to step away from school for a few moments to collect myself, so if you need someone to vent to about the curriculum or how this kid did this crazy/annoying/ridiculous thing, I’m also very much your girl. Because inevitably both will happen.
You CAN do this! You really, truly can. And I very sincerely pray that beautiful, amazing, and sweet moments as a family will come of this time for you.
Heaps and Heaps of Grace,