Whoa! What a week! I don’t know about you guys but these last few weeks have had me glued to the news and have brought out my hoarding/prepping tendencies. 😉 Watching the stock market act like a roller coaster, having travel around the world come to a screeching halt and making 17 trips to Costco in search of toilet paper has been a wild ride. I started the week by cancelling two trips I had scheduled for later this month. One to NYC next week, and another to CA the week after. Both trips were just for fun, so definitely not necessary travel by any means, and as I saw more and more closures and cancellations happening around the globe, my otherwise normally overwhelming anxiety kicked into overdrive and I decided to cancel. As the week progressed I definitely felt better about letting my anxiety get the best of me as it became clear that cancelling was a smart thing to do.
I felt like things grew to a fever pitch Wednesday night, capped off by Ashley’s school sending a late night text to cancel classes effective immediately due to someone in her school community being exposed to the virus. Yesterday Andy’s school followed suit, and now we are all home to huddle together for at least the next two weeks. Can I tell you a secret….I am SO happy to have them home!
I know the idea of having kiddos home around the clock for a few weeks with no activities on top of no school may seem overwhelming but I’m here to tell you, you can do it! I know there are a lot of repercussions for many families with school being cancelled, but if you have the luxury or ability to stay home for the next few weeks, this crazy time can be SUCH a rewarding time for you and your kids. Homeschooling can be SO fun if you let yourself relax and enjoy it.
Many of you may not know this about me, but I homeschooled my kids from the time Andy was in 1st grade through 7th grade, and Ashley from preschool until we moved here to Utah for middle school. I can’t remember if I’ve ever shared much about that decision here or not, but it seems timely now, considering the fact that we are all becoming homeschoolers together for at least the next few weeks.
There were many factors that came into play when I decided to pull Andy out of public school after kindergarten. It was a completely overwhelming and terribly scary decision. I stressed so much, worrying that I was not giving him everything he needed, but at the same time it felt like the most liberating, empowering decision. It wasn’t until a few years in that I really felt completely comfortable with what I was doing and let myself relax a little bit. By the time it was Ash’s turn, I was not only comfortable with what I was doing, I was elated to have complete control over my kids education from the topics they were studying to allocating the amount of time we spent doing any particular subject.
I was amazed to discover how much time in school was actually wasted as we flew threw subjects and quickly moved light years ahead of what their peers were completing in the classroom, all while spending WAY less time working on school work. We had the opportunity to learn through experience which was SO rewarding.
Andy took literature classes at Disneyland, learning about rising and falling action, the climax of a story and more while riding rides and following the storylines of each ride. He could understand how on a ride like Splash Mountain the action in the ride rises along with the story being told…and comes to it’s climax at the top of the drop…it was so memorable and brought learning to life.
Ashley learned how to sew and cook along with her math and english. We had complete flexibility over our schedules, traveled and used the world as our classroom while crowds were smaller, and spent tons of time as a family. It was pretty incredible.
KEEP A HOMESCHOOLING DAILY SCHEDULE
I’m not saying you have to be up and at it every morning at 7am…give yourself a chance to enjoy an excuse to sleep in and take some time to re-charge, but a schedule makes kids feel more secure, and it will help you stay on track and not feel overwhelmed either. You probably don’t remember this post on my summer activity advent calendar, but it really is amazing even if you only have one things planned each day, what a difference it makes for the kids to know what to expect.
Here is a sample schedule of what we used to do with our homeschooling. It can be a guide for you to build your own schedule. Just to give you an idea, we did this 3 days a week for 4 hours and 45 minutes and covered more material than the public school did in five 6 and 1/2 hour days.
Don’t feel like you have to keep everyone entertained at all times. Have some structured time, and then enjoy the free time. Let them be kids and run around. They will make messes and get in arguments with each other and drive you nuts sometimes. Give yourself permission to be ok with not being super mom. It’s also important to remember that no one is expecting you to be teacher of the year. Do your best to relax and have fun with all of this. The kids will be fine no matter what!
HOMESCHOOLING DURING SCHOOL CLOSURES – WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS:
So why am I telling you all this? I want you to embrace this next few weeks! I want you to be excited about this opportunity to teach your kiddos. I know it can seem utterly overwhelming but I’m here to tell you it is SO fun!
The most important thing to remember is that this is not hard and you are more than qualified. After homeschooling for years and working through a charter school to make sure I was meeting state standards for every grade, I was AMAZED to learn just how easy it is to not only meet those standards, but exceed them. Things that you do everyday are totally checking off those boxes and teaching your kids. You taught them from age 0-5 everything that they know and look how awesome they are. No one is more qualified than you are to teach your children because you know them better than anyone. You know how they learn and what they respond to. You have got this!!
Think of the possibilities for fun and learning over the next few weeks of homeschooling! Here are just a few ideas of things that are fun to do and educational.
-Work on measurements while baking a cake – you’ve probably never thought much of it, but baking IS actually a science…and while you do it you are using measurements that are crucial for kids to learn. A 1/4 cup of sugar, a pint of milk…bake and learn together, taking time to explain and talk about what different measurements are as you go. Need help? Google some measurement charts.
–Make a pizza for dinner and then as you cut into it, learn about fractions. It’s so much easier for kids to learn these things if they can visualize them in a practical way that they can understand.
Teach chemistry while making bath bombs – science is so fun and extends to so many different things that we use everyday. Make bath bombs and then have a super fun bath time!
-Play games to study history – or spelling or vocabulary and more. Have you ever played scrabble? How about Boggle? Memory or Trivial Pursuit? So many board games that you probably already have on hand are great educational (and fun!) tools.
Do Puzzles- puzzles are another great way to learn about fractions making a whole and spacial relationships.
Grow a Butterfly Garden Look up the life cycle of a butterfly and learn about it while you watch them grow and change before your eyes.
Study the Art of the Masters with Hands on Art projects Create masterpieces while you learn about the masters themselves with this fun book.
Read together – Now would be an extra great time to start a neighborhood lending library. Give kids a penny/nickel/dime a page for every page they read during their homeschooling adventure and see how that motivates them during their free time.
Watch TV – Yep, I said it! I give you permission to let them watch TV! Let them pick shows on Animal Planet, the History Channel, gameshows like Jeopardy, Food Network, Travel Channel, Discovery etc. and have them write down 5 facts that they learn from each show they watch.
Act out Plays or your favorite story – Have them memorize lines which is great!
Play Video Games – Yes! Another mind blowing homeschooling tool. Games like My Word Coach, National Geographic Challenge, Brain Quest, Animal Genius, and so many more are ready to play across all devices. Also be sure to check out free resources like Khan Academy and Mathmateer
Do Family Yoga – You can find lots of free Yoga workouts on YouTube.
Go on Nature Walks – Spring is upon us! Take some time to explore outside. Listen for birds, take pictures of the birds and look them up when you get home and learn about them. Pick up leaves and make a collage…just enjoying the fresh air is good for everyone!
Take Bike Rides– Exercise relives stress so make sure to get outside and get some if you can.
Build a Fort– A great place to read books together.
Plan and Pack Picnics – teach kids how to make a list of things you need and check them off as they are packed.
WHAT TO DO WITH OLDER KIDS WHEN HOMESCHOOLING
Older kids will enjoy many of the above activities too, but you have a unique opportunity with bigger kids. With older kids, watch what’s happening in the world and learn about it. Epidemiology, the stock market, our system of government, geography…there is SO much that can be learned. Take this time to teach older kids life skills that they may have yet to learn. How to set up and manage a bank account, make a few meals, do their own laundry…lots of very useful things that we may not otherwise have time to teach with how busy our lives can get. There are so many free online classes for cool things like hand lettering, baking, video game development, photo editing, etc. Check out YouTube and see what’s available.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE HOMESCHOOLING PRODUCTS THAT ARE FUN AND EDUCATIONAL (Click on any image for more information)
Doesn’t that sound like a fun filled couple of weeks? Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a chore and it doesn’t have to be scary! Jump in with both feet…we have nothing else to distract us for a little while which is actually such a gift. When are we ever going to have this completely uninterrupted time with our families again? Make the most of it and embrace the crazy. All of this time together, though initially caused by something so off the wall we all could have never imagined, really is such a blessing and will definitely make our kids feel more calm and secure if we can give them our time.
I hope you are feeling happy and excited for this mini adventure! You’ve got this!