The world has suddenly been flipped upside-down, and you have found yourself having to homeschool your kids. The first thing you need to know is that you’ve got this. The second thing you need to know about suddenly homeschooling is that you’ve got this. Seriously. I know you have this because you’re here, looking for answers. So let’s get started.
Getting Started Homeschooling
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I’ve been in your shoes. In fact I was suddenly thrust back into them today. 6 years ago I started, very reluctantly, homeschooling my kids. I didn’t want to do it, but due to a number of factors it became our only option.
I am far from the only one who has found themselves in this situation. Today, with drastic measures in place to protect families, thousands of parents are finding themselves suddenly homeschooling their kids.
It’s overwhelming. It’s triggering for many. Most of all it induces a high level of anxiety in many people.
If you are suddenly homeschooling, here are some tips to help you get started.
A Bit About Me
So you might be wondering what qualifies me to write about this. That is a great question.
First, I have been homeschooling for over 6 years. Including homeschooling 2 kids with special needs including anxiety, giftedness, trauma history, dysgraphia, global language delays, and more. I have been doing this, from the deep end, for a long time. I also have a son who was in school, but with no notice we are suddenly homeschooling due to COVID-19. And our jurisdiction says school will likely not reopen until September. It’s currently March. <gulp!>
I also have a psychology degree specializing in memory, learning and cognition, supplemented by post grad study in childhood mental health and development. Particularly as it relates to trauma in children.
Understanding kids minds and how they develop is my passion.
So that’s a bit about me, now let’s get to what you are here for… homeschooling!
Dealing With Stress
Before you open a single workbook, the first thing you need to do is address the stress and anxiety everyone, including you and your children, are feeling.
Children can not learn when they are feeling anxious, scared or unsure. It is biologically impossible. And the last thing they need is a stressed out, overwhelmed parent, getting angry or frustrated and increasing those anxiety levels.
For the first few days, focus on bonding and connecting with your kids. I see so many people stressing about routines. You don’t need routines right now. You need each other.
Yes, keep the big daily structures. Meals, sleep times, but you don’t need to set a clock saying you are going to do math at this time, then science at this time. Think of it like when you are on vacation. Let the routines go, but keep the big structure in place.
Instead, during these big stressful first days, filled with so much change and uncertainty, focus on connecting with your kids. Play some board games, cook together, read a book together, watch a movie or do some crafts or experiments just for fun.
The most important things your kids need right now is not routine or studying, they need you. And they need you calm, confident and strong in the face of all this adversity.
Don’t Hoard Resources Like Toilet Paper
Don’t worry about buying every educational resource, workbook and study manual. Many schools are working to provide you with all the resources and materials you need. There is an incredible infrastructure in place for online learning. Homeschoolers have been using it for years. Schools just need a bit of time to get things in place for their families and students.
This may take a bit longer in places where they have deemed school closures temporary, short term solutions, but the areas where they are closing indefinitely have already started work in this area. It is coming. Just give them a bit of time.
For now, why not take advantage of the many free resources available? Here are a few we really enjoy:
- Check out our FREE STEM Printables
- Our favourite easy activities to do at home with kids
- Hoopla (free reading materials with your library card)
- Khan Academy (online schooling and lessons in many subjects)
- Tappity (awesome interactive, multi-sensory science app)
It’s Time For Passions
What are your children’s passions? Figure out an activity you can do with them that embraces that passion. We call these passion projects and it is incredible to see your children come alive when they are given the opportunity to chase their passions.
Maybe they love Minecraft. There are lots of build challenges you can do with Minecraft. Or maybe they love storytelling and this will be their opportunity to sit and write that store that has been filling their dreams. Maybe they are an aspiring film maker or even a blacksmith. Find out what they are passionate about and see what you can do to help foster those passions over the next few days or weeks.
Teach Them Life Skills
We often joke about how Algebra is so handy during tax season, or how kids have advanced degrees but can’t cook simple meals when they finish school. Take this opportunity to involve your kids in your daily life. Teach them how to cook. Making bread is a fantastic activity that involves math and science and results in a delicious treat. Involve kids as you do your bills and taxes. Let them be part of your adult world. Get them to help clean and organize the house. Spend some time involving them in your daily life so they can start developing those life skills.
But What If They Fall Behind?
I hear this all the time. But here’s the thing. Kids minds are INCREDIBLE. When they are in the right mindset to learn, they can soak up knowledge like a sponge. Perhaps you can remember a time when you kid seemed to learn things like they were just pulling it from the air they breathed. Your kids can still do that. The problem is that many kids have lost their passion for learning. Spend this time reigniting that love of learning.
They won’t fall behind.
Why? Because if they return to school loving learning they will soak up everything they need to learn so fast. Plus, all families are in the same position. All kids are out of school right now. So you are not alone. It will be alright.
Mental Health First, Learning Second – Stick to that and you can’t go wrong.
Look At This As An Opportunity
It’s scary right now. I know. None of us have ever seen anything like this before. It’s up to us to decide how to frame this situation. Choose to view it as a chance to reconnect as a family. To unplug and be together. To teach your kids about how things were when you were a kid. To play, laugh and get to know each other again. Take this time to step back from the busy of life and step up to your loved ones.
Together we got this. Join my mailing list to access even more free educational resources and materials.