This is my advice for those who have been thrust into schooling your kids at home due to the coronavirus COVID-19 shut downs. I'm a long time public school teacher and long time homeschool mom. I have been at this a combined total of 25 years and I have some encouragement to share as well as some words of reality.
This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.
1. You are NOT homeschooling. You are CRISIS schooling. There is a huge difference. You may choose to homeschool after this, but this is not what homeschooling looks like, not even remotely.
Homeschool parents who choose this research for months or even years before embarking on this journey. We have vast networks of support from charter schools like where I teach, in person classes, online classes, co-op groups, park days, field trips, chess clubs, scout troops, etc. We have huge groups on social media that we get involved in. Choosing to homeschool makes all the difference in your mindset and preparedness. Crisis schooling is stressful and even trauma inducing.
2. Being home all day is NOT our normal! Our kids are not locked in their houses all day long. We also do all of the things your kids do with sports, dance, clubs, music, etc. in addition to our homeschool community connectedness. Our kids are also feeling disconnected and tremendous loss.
Children are grieving right now. Out of the blue, they lost a lot. It is wonderful that so many classes are going online, but it's not the same. They lost their in person time with friends, their daily routine and the predictability of life that gives us security.
HONOR that grief process! Don't expect to just jump into a perfect program and learn, learn, learn. Expect them to act out. Expect them to not want to get out of bed. Expect them to not have words to express their inner turmoil.
3. YOU are grieving and experiencing loss. Give yourself a lot of GRACE! Even some of us veterans in homeschooling are struggling because our security has been yanked from under our feet. Some of you have lost jobs or your spouses have lost jobs. Those who are working are afraid of going out. Some of you have been to 5 grocery stores and still do not have what you need. Our society has been turned upside down. Give yourself a break.
It is okay to NOT be amazing. Don't try to be Pinterest Homeschool Mom of the Year. Even she is not that way all the time and truthfully there is at least one messy room in her house. Something always has to give. Those perfect people online have the same 24 hours in each day. From experience I can tell you, something always gives no matter how perfect people pretend to be.
4. Homeschooling does NOT look like regular school. That's why we do it! The number one thing that shocks new homeschool parents is how fast things get done. You only have your own children. You are giving them focused attention.
I taught public school for 12 years and did private classes for homeschool students for many years while teaching my own kids. When you have 32 kids in a class it takes a lot of time to get all 32 of them to turn to page 32, take out pencils, get their paper, stop pulling their friend's hair. There are natural distractions with a big class that do not happen in a small one. You will get done fast!
Don't artificially create busy work to do school for 6 hours a day. That is soul sucking, will anger and bore your child and make you tear your hair out. When you're done, you're done! Go do some fun things! Or... even crazier... have fun learning! See my next point.
5. I am a curriculum specialist. I have an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and I used to work in adopting curriculum for my school district. I'm giving you my obnoxious credentials not to brag, but because I'm about to give you permission to do something radical and I want you to know that I know what I am talking about.
Tests and worksheets are NOT the only way or the best way to learn. This might make some people cringe, but textbooks and worksheets used incorrectly are lowest common denominator learning. Gobbling facts to regurgitate them later is not enlightened nor does it instill a lifelong love of learning. This is the secret veteran homeschoolers know and it's a big part of our WHY for continuing to homeschool.
If your school did not give you loads of books and worksheets, be glad. Now you can read lots of literature and do hands on learning! There is a lot of learning that does not end in a worksheet. I will do more posts with resources and ideas.
Listen to audiobooks. Audible is making many of them free.
Read, read, read, read, read! Listening is also reading! It counts!
Here are some books that my kids and I have enjoyed listening to on Audible. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no cost to you.
You can also buy literature units from Teacher Created Resources , one of my favorite educational publishers, that are really well put together and they are not expensive. I have used them for years. They always have written components, quizzes, hands on components and ideas for projects. I added the link to the literature unit if they had it available.
Click the photos for the links to the audiobooks.
By the Great Horn Spoon! is one of my favorite books of all time. It's set in the Gold Rush and it's a fun and often funny adventure.
Here is the corresponding literature unit.
The Mary Poppins series are so fun to listen to, especially if your children have seen the movies. I added links below for Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Comes Back, and Mary Poppins Opens the Door. I did not find a literature unit for this one. There are 8 books in the series and you can find the list of them here.
Mr. Popper's Penguins is a fun movie with Jim Carrey, but like many movies, it is based on literature. Here is the link for the corresponding literature unit.
For classic literature, you cannot beat the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia series. You can find all of the books in the series here.
Here is the link for the corresponding literature unit.
The House With a Clock in its Walls is another novel that was made into a movie. This one might be scary for younger children. I listened to this entire book while I was painting my home office. It was fun for me and I'm not a kid, although I abide by the never grow up philosophy. I did not find a literature unit for this one.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was one of my favorite books as a child. It's been around that long! Every elementary school child should read about the antics of Peter and his little brother Fudge. It's a hilarious book that I have never tired of. I read it to my students every year when I taught in the classroom. Here is the link for the corresponding literature unit.
Reading Rainbow Skybrary is a huge online library and actors read to your children while they actually see the books in front of them on the app.
Get crazy and ask your kids what they are interested in and then learn about that! If your child thinks the solar system is really cool, then read about the solar system, look up YouTube videos about it, do projects about it. Immerse yourselves in learning and make it fun and engaging. If you do that, your day will fly by and you'll still be learning.
I will write more about this, but thematic learning is my favorite way to to teach. Pick a subject like the gold rush or Greek mythology. Then look for books, videos, fiction, movies, arts and crafts and activities that go with that theme. You can cover all of your core subjects of history, geography, art, language arts and science using thematic learning.
One of my favorite children's books for Greek mythology is D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire are a couple who write and illustrate books together. Their books are full of beautiful color pencil illustrations and they write about history in an engaging story telling style.
I was reading their book about Benjamin Franklin to my kids (click on his name for the link). We had to stop reading and get ready to go somewhere. My daughter was so engaged that she said, "But Mommy, I don't want to stop! I want to know what happens to little Benjamin!"
This set is a bit pricey, but if you like their work, there is an entire set. D'Aulaire Collection: Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Pocahontas, Buffalo Bill, and Columbus.
For my blog post with thematic learning ideas using the literature that inspired Disney movies and attractions click here.
6. Life will go on if you are not stellar during a worldwide crisis. Maybe your best today will be cuddle up with the kids and just be together. Maybe your best today is everyone is fed and you didn't cry in front of them. Maybe you did cry and your beautiful babies showed their remarkable best by comforting you in their beautiful little strength.
It's okay and even necessary to be REAL with yourself about what's actually happening. A bomb did not go off, but metaphorically it did. Our lives will never be the same after this. If you crumble, honor that. I promise you, your child will learn. We learn from all of life!
7. Child led learning and learning from life is a thing. It's called Unschooling. Do not confuse this with not schooling. Unschooling is a way of life and a deeply researched philosophy and education model that is successful for many families. There are volumes written about it so I won't go into detail here, but search for it! You can learn during this stressful time and unschooling just might speak to your heart and needs right now.
Blessings and love to all of the parents who are taking on this huge challenge! Give yourself grace! You got this!! I believe in you! I have seen parents work miracles in schooling their children. Teachers... my heart goes out to you. You are also on a steep learning curve to serve your students in this time. It's also okay for you to not be amazing.
This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.
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Watch me talk about this article with Rachel Eubanks, owner of Inspire to Engage small business support. We recorded a podcast and I uploaded the video to my YouTube channel. CLICK HERE for the Crisis Schooling video podcast
I wanted to add a thank you to Suzi from Start a Mom Blog. She has helped me with my site and she is really encouraging! Click her link below!
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