Anyone new to homeschooling out there? Too soon to joke? This has probably been a pretty stressful few weeks for you getting thrown into the deep end like this. I’m hopefully here to help but not as an expert; otherwise my Grit and Grace title of “Hippie in Heels” would have to be replaced with “Hypocrite in Heels.”
I’ve been homeschooling for four years but many days I feel like I fall short. So, if that’s you right now, just know you’re not alone! Even the ones who were already doing this pre-social distancing feel that way at times. I’m going to give you the same pep talk that I give to myself when I’m so overwhelmed I feel like hiding in the bathroom with a pan of brownies and a bottle—I mean glass—of wine.
1. Read out loud every day and have them read to themselves for at least 30 minutes.
If you have younger kids, do this during their nap or set them up with a stack of board books and a snack. My mom used to call this “quiet reading time.” Now I understand why. The “quiet” is the genius part. This gives you a minute to read yourself or catch up on things you need to get to.
2. Make learning fun.
Kids who love to learn become life-long learners. Identify their learning style, what interests them and then dig in! If it’s volcanoes, make one, draw one, watch one online, read about them and have them write about it!
3. Do not compare yourself.
I mean it. The times I spiral the most is when I’ve spent too long looking at someone’s perfect Insta-story where they seem to have their act completely together. Or I look up something on Pinterest and end up on a rabbit trail where I quickly realize I do not have the craft gene. My husband then finds me in the fetal position as a result of all the overwhelming “pinspiration” that has left me more paralyzed and defeated than inspired. We have to remember God has gifted us all in different ways. He’s gifted our children in different ways. We all have unique backgrounds and we’re all in unique situations with unique struggles. So, take Corrie Ten Boom’s advice not only for homeschooling but this pandemic in general: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”
4. Set up a routine.
Or don’t. Because I’m really helpful like that. But seriously, I have one friend who says a routine is literally saving her sanity and another whose been so overworked and stressed lately that letting her kids sleep in and do school in pajamas has been really healing for them. It’s an incredibly stressful time with a lot of unknowns. It’s probably taking more of a toll on you and your kids than you even realize. A schedule can either lessen or add to your stress depending on what your family needs right now and you can ask God for wisdom on what that is.
5. If you’re limited on time, just cover the essentials.
Just focus on a little bit of reading, writing, and math and then they got in the basics.
6. If (or should I say when) it gets frustrating, take a break!
Do something beautiful. Paint, make play dough, read poetry, garden, listen to music, take nature walks, or do a scavenger hunt outside. Also, get them moving! “In the same way that exercise shapes up the muscles, heart, lungs, and bones, it also strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and corpus callosum—all key areas of the brain.” Researcher Terrence Dwyer is one of many who have conducted multiple studies suggesting that exercise supports success in school.”
7. Start your day together with Scripture and prayer.
If you get nothing else done, you did the most important thing! And usually that puts you in such a good mindset that you accomplish a lot more than what you would have otherwise.
8. Remember everything can be a learning opportunity.
It doesn’t always have to look so structured! I have to remind myself of this all the time. Cooking is a great way to learn fractions. Cleaning and laundry is teaching them life skills. What skill does dad or a grandparent know that they could teach them? Is there a board game you can play? Catan, Dragonwood, and Ticket to Ride are some of our favorites because they teach strategy.
Homeschool doesn’t take as long as normal school. We’re usually done in 2-3 hours because one-on-one allows you to get a lot done in a short amount of time, leaving time for developing other hobbies or skill sets.
Here are 10 tips for the new homeschooler, from an old pro (who still has a lot to learn!)
9. God will give you everything you need to teach your kids.
He created you and He created them and making you their parent was intentional. He will equip you with the wisdom, love, patience, strength, grit and grace to be exactly what they need as individuals. Depending on Him is the best tip I can give!
10. Last but not least, give yourself grace in light of all this new grit.
This is tough! Sometimes I have amazing days and some days I cry because I’m terrified I’m going to make them stupid (#kiddingnotkidding). Some people will be using this opportunity to teach their child Mandarin while using microscopes to figure out how to cure the coronavirus while others will be drinking a Corona while their teenager plays Grand Theft Auto counting it as a Drivers-Ed course. Most of us will be somewhere in the middle. Just remember that. You aren’t the only one who’s having a hard time balancing it all, so if we are all screwing it up in one way or the other, take heart in knowing you’re in good company.
Let me leave you with one final thought. Being forced into homeschooling last minute in the middle of a stressful pandemic where you are balancing work while worried about health and finances is not an accurate representation of homeschooling. We have a huge community and lot of social gatherings, so it’s not normally this isolating. We also had time to pick curriculum and prepare mentally for this. You’re doing the best you can! You might be on your own or you might be trying to keep up with stuff your teachers have sent among everything else. Just pray for perspective.
Scripture says children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Sometimes we need to repeat this to ourselves over and over when our patience runs thin, but it’s true. One thing you will get out of this situation is more time with your family that you wouldn’t normally have had. Money comes and goes, but we won’t ever be able to get time back and I suspect our kids will probably look back on this situation with fondness because they got to be with us more. Keep your head up, grit and grace warriors.
We were made for such a time as this.
Need a little encouragement, mamas? Check out these articles:
To the Mom Terrified of Homeschooling Through the Pandemic
Less is More in Your Child’s Schedule
8 Things Moms Should Say to Raise Strong Kids
Want to Get Your Child Interested in Books? Try This.
Stop Comparing Your Mothering to What You See on Social Media
A Little Encouragement When Motherhood is Disappointing
That One Time I Felt Like a Failure of a Mom
This is Why Your Child Needs Free Play
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