Thursday, March 19, 2020


Things are a little crazy in our world right now. Stores are being shut down, grocery shelves are empty, we have a gathering limit, and now schools are shut down. In my city, schools have shut down for the remainder of the year. Children must now stay home and be homeschooled. Our education system is working on the best possible plan for this impossible situation.

For some of us, like my family, homeschool is nothing new. We have been homeschooling for fourteen years. If you have suddenly found yourself a homeschool family, I'd like to share a few tips that have helped me throughout the years.

Get up and get ready. I know that it is so very easy to sleep in and stay in pajamas all day long. But I also know that once you are able to get out of the house and back to normal, it is much harder to break that habit than it was to create it. So set your alarm and this is also a great time to teach your kids how to set their own alarm clock and wake up to it! Get up at a normal hour, whether that is 6am for your family or 8am, just get up at a decent hour. Everyone get teeth brushed, dressed, the whole bit. You will feel better and be more productive if you are fully ready and you will not have to worry about breaking any bad habits later on.

Do chores. Mornings before school, when you leave the house, can be very hectic and rushed. For a lot of families that means chores do not get done. Give each person a chore that needs to be done before breakfast. It can be making their own bed and picking up their own room or feeding a pet or emptying the dishwasher, one quick chore before breakfast helps the house to stay picked up a little better and teaches responsibility. It is also good to set an afternoon chore or afternoon pickup time. When my kids were little they had a chore to be completed before breakfast, then in the afternoon we did a "ten count cleanup." Everyone had to walk through the house and clean up ten things. This was a huge help in keeping the house together. While chores are a normal part of the family dynamic, everyone needs to pitch in and help, they are also part of school. Chores teach life skills.

Limit tv. During time at home it is easy to catch up on your tv shows or just relax and watch some tv. This is another habit that can be hard to break. Consider allowing just one show during the day. My kids were allowed to each choose one show to watch or to work together and choose one movie for the day.

Have a routine. Having a routine is so important. If you don't have a routine, important things can be forgotten. Plus, kids have a routine at school so why not at home? Have a time to get up and ready, a time for chores, a time for meals, a time for school work, a quiet time, add whatever fits your family, just have a routine. Also, make sure they are still going to bed at their regular bed time. While a routine is important, so is flexibility. Sometimes our routines need to be adjusted a little.

Have a quiet time. No, your kids don't get a quiet time at school but when at home it can be a huge help to you! For one hour, or whatever fits your family, everyone goes into their own room and does something quiet. My daughters always wanted to read and my sons always wanted to play with hotwheels racing them on their pillows. When they were younger, they often fell asleep. This is another great time to use the alarm clock. Tell them they must stay in their room until the alarm goes off. This quiet time allows you to work, if you are working from home, catch up on laundry, start dinner, or whatever else you need to do without distraction.

Limit snacks. Kids at home like to snack! Oh my word! They are asking for a snack while you're still cleaning up breakfast. An hour later they want to know what is for lunch, and it continues all day long. One way to combat the constant asking and snacking is to get a basket for each child in the home. In the morning, or the night before, put a couple items in each basket. For example, each basket gets an apple, a bag of fruit chews, a cookie, and a cup (this way they only use one cup in the day and not ten). Whatever is in their basket, they can eat. When their snacks are gone, they are done. They will quickly learn to ration themselves so they have snacks all day, and if they don't, that is their fault.

For school work, find what works best for your family. When we first started homeschooling I got a school desk and chair for each child. We had a room that was our schoolroom, nothing happened in this room except school. With a bookshelf, the American Flag, and tons of school supplies, I was thrilled. After a couple of years I realized that my kids, especially my boys, actually worked better at the kitchen table. So we did away with our school desks and used the room for something else. It may take a week or two to figure out what works best for your children. If you have a space that can be just for school, give it a try! You can also try the kitchen table, or even the couch. That is the beauty of homeschool.

Be creative. When cooking, have your kids help you. They are learning a life skill, they are learning science, and they are learning math. When grocery ads come, have your kids compare prices. Have older kids help younger kids with school work. There are so many ways to be creative with learning.

Have P.E. While at home, don't skip P.E. Actually, this may be when they need it most! Weather permitting, schedule outside time every day. They can play in the yard or ride bikes in the driveway. When weather doesn't permit, if you have space, do P.E. inside. It can even be aerobics. It will be so good for them and help get any energy out.

Do what you can, get help when you can't. Throughout our elementary years, I was fine teaching my kids. Middle school wasn't bad either. But high school. Ugh. High school math has nearly killed me. When my kids started high school, we transitioned from traditional homeschool to virtual homeschool. At first I was heartbroken, thinking I had failed them. But I soon realized that I wasn't failing them, but helping them. Why struggle to teach them what I can't. Teach your kids what you can, get help when you can't. Their school teacher may be willing to do a facetime with you guys or find a friend or family member who knows the subject and ask for help. This is a great way to trade with another mother. Maybe you are really good at science but struggle in history and another mom is great with history but struggles with science. Facetime each other to help each other out.

Forgive. You are facing a new adventure. It won't always be easy, but you can do this. When you fail, forgive yourself and get back at it. If you wrong your kids, ask forgiveness and move forward. When your kids fail, forgive them and move on. Don't stress yourself out.

I promise, you will get through this. We will all get through this crisis. Let's trust God, be wise, and stay calm.

If you are a veteran homeschool parent, what other tips would you add? Please share in the comments!

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