Note: This ‘homeschooling how to’ article originally posted during mandatory school closures due to the corona virus pandemic. It is now updated to reflect our more open society (yay!). However, many still come to homeschooling not as a first choice. People get tired of dealing with the school system regarding their children’s interventions. Some feel a calling to have more control over what type of information their children are learning. Others flock to the safety of the home. Whatever your reason for finding yourself here. Welcome and know you are in good company.
In fact feel free to join our homeschooling communities on Facebook. We have two – a public group for more general information and a private group specifically for those who are currently homeschooling (or 90% sure they are about to start) and live in the greater Houston area.
Reluctance and homeschooling – not usually two words that go together! However you have come to the decision to homeschool, hopefully, you are embracing this new opportunity, life is affording your family. It is truly a gift to spend time with your kiddos – even as unexpected homeschoolers. But, we all know, even gifts are sometimes not exactly what you want – and, that’s okay! Fortunately, making the best of an unexpected situation will help you stay sane and productive. It is time to be glass-half-full people!
Rhythm Not Schedule
Do you have a regular pizza and movie night? Your kids look forward to it. They ask about it and plan for it. That is a family rhythm.
There are so many color-coded ‘homeschool how to’ schedules being passed around the Internet. I can guarantee you a home rhythm will make your family happier than a schedule. The difference is, with a rhythm you eat three meals a day. With a schedule, you eat breakfast at 8 am, lunch at noon, dinner at 6 pm.
A great rhythm is a flow from one activity to the next that creates an overall familiar pattern from day to day. It really helps you to keep moving forward and the expectation is a sanity saver!
Home, Not School
Julie Bogart, author of The Brave Learner, creator of Brave Writer, and all-around homeschool guru, says it best: “Homeschoolers: we’re at home – the place we return to where we kick off our shoes, rip off our bras, and flop onto the couch.”
If you try to emulate school at home prepare for a disaster. The kids know it is different. You know it is different. Treat it differently. Be okay with reading here, there, and everywhere. Your school day should not last for eight hours. You have one, two,..five kids. Teachers have 30 at a time, class changes, lunches, etc. Relax.
If you are a temporary homeschooler (or virtual through your school district) you do not even have to worry about curriculum and assignments. Your school is providing your kids with everything they need. You just get to be their guide.
Start With Activity
A great all-around classic homeschooling how to tip is to start with something active. There are numerous studies showing the value of beginning your day with activity.
- Do Yoga
- Take a walk
- Go to the park
- Ride your bikes
- Household Chores
Reading aloud to kids is an awesome way to ground your kids and share amazing places and experiences with them. A lot of us read to our little kids but as they get older reading together tends to drop off. Do not let it! Don’t you enjoy a good audiobook? Tween and teens still love being read to. If you have not done it in a while ease it. Some great times are during lunch or just after, bedtime (of course), or anytime in your day that is naturally when everyone gets slower and quiet.
Kids do not have to just sit there either. They can play with their Legos, draw, wiggle around on the couch, pet the dog, whatever. They are listening. I promise.
Dedicate a Space
If you read Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you will know that everything in your home should have a place. It gives everything somewhere to return to so it is not sitting on your countertop until the end of time. When your life is totally upended by an unexpected or sudden change clutter is just one more thing to add to your stress.
Even if your kids do not sit down and work at a desk each day it is nice to have a “home base.” A place where are the school-work will return to. Somewhere to find a pencil or a sheet of paper.
There are some really great inexpensive options. You may even have a small bookshelf you can reallocate to your “school.” Many homeschoolers overhaul a dining room or combine a playroom with a schoolroom. It does not have to be a large space or very fancy and Instagram-perfect, but a dedicated space to monitor and review things will help everyone.
Homeschooling How To: Parents’ Jobs as a Homeschooler
- Be kind and gentle – It is possible maybe even likely that you might lose it. Cry, yell, snap at an unsuspecting little person. Which might then lead to guilt and more crying. You are not alone. But, it is really a manifestation of your frustration and anxiety. Apologize, reboot, reset. Your kids love you. They will forgive you. It is okay to tell them this is a hard time for everyone.
- Focus on your child – Be interested in what they have to say. Not every moment is a teaching moment. Not every moment is for critiques and improvements. You are their rock. You will make their time stable. Being present is what they want and need.
- Take the help being offered. Reach out if you need more. The homeschooling community is huge. We do not sit at home, lock the doors, and draw the curtains. Homeschoolers reach out to our groups. We build communities and find the resources for our kids. During this time of transition, people are available and happy to help. The struggle is normal do not be afraid to shelve your day and ask for help.
- Take it easy. Good news you have until August to get things done! While the school districts want to close out the year on time you will be able to see first hand where you need to spend more time. That is the thing you find a fun way to focus on during the summer. Oh, and did someone say sleep? No need for 6 am wake-ups. Plus, sleep is good for your immune system (and attitude)!
- Be fun. If you are doing any kind of physical training rest days are a requirement. Same thing for your brain. You are at home now. Your rest day could be on a Wednesday. Get nuts, do something unexpected, play with your kids, have a picnic, stay up late and look at constellations and roast s’mores.
- Focus on Yourself – This is hard. Make sure you are caring for yourself because a crazy mama is no good to her kids. In an airline emergency, you put your mask on first. Same thing at home. Wake up early, stay up late, take a bath, take a walk – just do that thing that helps you reset yourself.
Give Yourself a Break and Ask for Help
Education is hard. No one knows all the right answers and experienced homeschoolers will tell you their rhythm evolved over time. So, give your self grace if it is not all coming together as quickly as you hoped. Reach out to other moms and get some help. We have several groups on Facebook that you might be interested in Greater Houston Homeschoolers (private, for current Houston-area homeschoolers), Greater Houston Moms Homeschool (public), and Greater Houston Moms Group (for general momming). If you are in Houston The Homeschool Store is an amazing resource – you can go in and they will talk and walk with you.
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