I’m a homeschool mom, but don’t write me off as not understanding your situation. Although I’ve homeschooled four out of my five children at various times over the last 15 years, I am currently only homeschooling my youngest. But my other kids are back home now (even the one in college), and we’re finding our new normal.
I’m not that homeschooling mom who thinks that everyone should homeschool because it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Don’t get me wrong. I love those women! They are walking in their purpose, but they’re not going to help you right now. If homeschooling was your calling, you would have already been doing it voluntarily, right?
First, take a deep breath, mama. Take a couple of them. Your kid is going to be just fine! I remember feeling terrified that I would screw my kids up when I first started teaching them.
Let me tell you a secret—all homeschool moms are terrified they’re screwing up their kids. They won’t tell you that, but it’s true.
Let’s be real. All moms, homeschooling or not, feel that way at some point, right?
Actually I’m going to share a few homeschooling secrets with you. Sometimes we don’t do school at all (gasp). Why don’t we tell these secrets? Because we know that you would judge us—because there is this traditional idea that all learning must take place in a linear, structured fashion and if we are not facilitating that type of learning, we aren’t teaching our kids. This is not true.
I know you may be feeling exhausted. Trying to constantly entertain your kids can suck the life out of you. So, good woman, take a break and don’t be so hard on yourself.
You will not be doing your kids a disservice if they get to play and just be kids for a few months. In fact, you will be creating happy, healthy kids (who sometimes fight their siblings) who will be in a good place to go back to traditional schooling in a few months.
The real truth is my family has taken large gaps of time off school—I mean months. Like when my father died and I had to go home to Maryland and didn’t really feel like homeschooling for a while. Or when we got the flu (not coronavirus) and it slowly went through each member of our house for weeks (all six of us) and I was exhausted. Or the time I decided to start a consignment business with my sister in the beginning of the school year (pretty bad timing).
I’m telling you all of this not to out myself as a bad mom, but to let you know that your kids are going to be okay—even if you’re doing a terrible job teaching them. I know this because despite all the time off, despite the sometimes lackadaisical days, my oldest son got into college on a scholarship and is pursuing his passion. My sophomore son is doing great in his advanced classes at school and is on his way to a career in engineering. My younger ones are coming up well behind them. I have perspective that you don’t have now. Your kids will be fine.
But I’m not going to leave you there because I know that doing nothing makes you feel anxious.
So here are a few tips for homeschooling when it’s not really your thing:
1. Find learning opportunities in everyday life. Learning doesn’t ever need to take place in a school room. Learning can happen anywhere.
My daughter and I went on a walk yesterday and came across an outline of the United States in chalk on the ground. We spent about 30 minutes running around the outline and identifying states. Boom! That’s still school and we were just outside playing. My daughter memorized half the states in our country and their location. This might have taken a week in a school setting. Because my mind is often focused on learning opportunities, I saw one and took it.
2. Don’t you dare compare!
I have struggled with this as a working homeschool mom. I used to compare myself to the moms who had it all together and did all the science experiments and cut out little doily shaped flash cards for their kids. We all have our talents and your kids are your kids for a reason. My kids don’t get all of that and they are doing just fine. So will yours. If that’s your jam though, rock it! Just don’t allow yourself to feel badly because you believe that some other mom is doing it all much better. She’s struggling somewhere, just like you are.
3. Focus on math and reading.
In the times when traditional learning was scarce, I tried to focus on making sure they still did at least math and reading everyday. These concepts build on each other and are the foundation to all other learning. Everything else is non-essential at times like these. To be honest, I didn’t even get serious about homeschooling the little ones until they were in 1st or 2nd grade.
If your school isn’t giving you any curriculum, a wonderful, easy to use math curriculum for 2nd grade and up is Teaching Textbooks. I highly recommend it specifically for this pandemic situation. Your kids can do it independently and it is a complete program, with instruction, quizzes, tests, and assignments. You just have to log in to check their grade book. Although their curriculum starts at 3rd grade, their standards tend to be a year off, so your 2nd grader would probably do well in their 3rd grade curriculum. That applies to all grades. You can take an entrance test on their website to determine placement.
For under 2nd grade, I would suggest Math U See. Their website is a little confusing, so I suggest trying to find it on Amazon. Just to help you out: Primer = kindergarten, Alpha = 1st grade, Beta = 2nd grade, Gamma = 3rd grade, etc. Do a couple of pages a day and your kids will be just fine.
For language arts, I would suggest A2Z Homeschooling. Here you can find plenty of free language arts tools, like free spelling lists by grade, vocab lists, reading, and writing information.
Unless they are in high school, history and science will circle back around, so don’t sweat it.
Now that you know your kids will be just fine, focus on enjoying this special time. Get all the breaks you can because this 24/7 quarantine is tiring! It is a must that you get some alone time! If you have to put them to bed early every night so you can do absolutely nothing productive, please do it!
Although it doesn’t feel like it, your kids will be back to school soon enough and we can all rejoice! You can look back at this time and be proud of the superwoman that you are—even if your cape is dragging a bit. You’ve got this, mama! It just takes a little grit and grace!
Keep up to date with all the content we have related to coronavirus here!
An Adventure in First Time Homeschooling (We Miss You Teachers)
Ask Dr. Zoe – I Love Being a Working Mom, But I Need More Balance!
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Mom, You Know When Your Kid Needs a Win
Feeling Anxiety? How to Snap Out of It and Live in the Moment
When a Strong Woman Is Quitting, But Not Failing
What Happened When This Mom Stopped Doing All the Things
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