I was lying in bed this morning thinking about the early days of our homeschooling adventure. It was quite the learning the curve, let me tell you. Over the course of the first year, I second guessed myself numerous times. I wondered whether I had made the right decision for our kids. Many days I felt like a complete failure. It took some time for me to find my strides, and 5 years and a few months later, we still have great days, and we have days we would like to forget.
The life of a homeschooling mum is very rewarding, but definitely not a walk in the park. Children have their own sense of ‘will’ and this can be insanely frustrating at times, as I’m sure you already know.
The difficulty at this time is that we as a nation are not functioning in our normal capacity. We are working within many restrictions. Life as we knew it only a few weeks ago is very different to the world in which we are now in thanks to Covid-19. I’m sure you are probably a little over the news reports… I would love to hear some positive reports about all the people who are recovering well and doing well post having the corona virus.
If you are a parent whose just discovered that your childrens school has just closed down due to fears surrounding the Corona virus, please understand that homeschooling, or distance education is a reasonably good option. It might not be your first choice for you or your kids, but its your present situation and for now you have no choice but to embrace it.
You get to have time with your kids. The one thing that children want the most in their lives is to have more time with their parents. Their dreams have been granted. We have all been forced to slow right down and basically cancel life outside of our homes.
Just to let you know, even homeschooling parents who have been doing this for sometime feel out of our element. Our normal activities have come to an end, and we are unsure as to what the future looks like when our nation is out of restriction mode.
Homeschooling and Crisis schooling are two very different things.
What I know to be true….
1. Our kids need us to be calm. You will be met with some resistance at times, and it will be frustrating.
2. Homeschooling is not about replicating what you think a school day looks like. Homeschooling and school life do not mirror each other.
3. It is imperative to remember little kids (prep to about year 4), can only concentrate for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Year 4’s are able to go a little longer, but each child is different. Children in year 5 and 6 are able to work on something for about 45 minutes, and then year 7 to year 10 tend to go for about an hour, hour and a half. Our year 9 daughter can work on subjects for about an hour.
4. It is vital to have a start time and a finish time. We start at 8.30 am and work till about 1.00 pm and then have lunch. We have water breaks basically every hour, and morning tea.
5. One of the best things you can do for your kids is to help them find their love of reading. The ultimate goal is for your kids to read an hour per day. Breaking this hour up into four fifteen minute reading time slots through out the day is the best way to encourage reading. If children are struggling with 15 minutes you can drop it down to 10 minute sessions, just make sure they do six time slots.
6. Crisis homeschooling means that we don’t get to go to the library, any outside the home activities, no socialising unless you catch up with friends on zoom. Remember, crisis homeschooling is not what homeschooling looks like under normal conditions. Don’t be hard on yourself, and when it comes to the kids, take the big guns out on the big issues, and do not worry about things that just don’t matter. Some kids are going to love learning at home, and other kids are going to hate it.
7. Kids can’t learn when they are stressed. If the kids are upset or stressed, do something different. Change tactics. Try to remember that if you are stressed and emotional, the kids are likely to be stressed and emotional.
8. Don’t watch News updates with the kids present in the room. I know this is difficult while everyone is under the same roof 100% of the time, but kids can become quite anxious and this anxiety comes out in other ways, usually behaviour, and when they are asked to do school work. Their ability to concentrate can be hindered when children are stressed.
9. “Remember that your attitude is going to set the atmosphere for your school room” (Kelly Bates. Homeschooling mum to 19 kids). Keep calm. Listen to your kids. Your school should be in contact with you regard to what your child’s teacher expects you to cover.
Our outlook is our choice. Covid-19 may be the culprit to us all being housebound, however, it is a good time to spend time with our kids. God willingly, we never have to go through another virus epidemic again after this experience, but maybe our kids might remember this experience as family enriching. Maybe they will remember this time as happy despite the uncertainty. Maybe, and just maybe we can walk away from this experience altogether as a much tighter family focused, and people focused nation.