As many of you know, I homeschooled both of my children from K-12th grade. I now have the privilege of helping to homeschool my grandkids. I consider myself a veteran in the homeschooling world and I feel like I have enough authority on the subject to offer some advice to those of you who suddenly became their child’s teacher.
First of all, you aren’t homeschooling. Homeschooling looks a lot different from what you are doing right now. Real homeschoolers go places and interact with others and rarely are trying to teach their children while they “work from home” like many of you are forced to do now. You, my friends, are quarantine schooling and that is a whole different animal. Quarantine schooling is all about survival.
When this pandemic started to get real, my son and daughter in law and I had a serious conversation. Since my DIL is nurse and I am the primary babysitter we knew that the kids would be exposed to a lot of germs from her work. My husband has had some severe health problems over the last year, so his immune system is really compromised. The decision was made to have the littles come live with us for a while to avoid exposing him to extra germs.
Even though we homeschool, what we are doing now, is much harder. We can’t ride our bikes to the library. We can’t go to a program at the Miami County Park District. We can’t watch a show at Victoria Theater. For most of you, this is even more difficult than it is for us. Many of you are trying to work from home while you answer questions about Common Core math. (And let’s face it, if you aren’t a teacher, you probably can’t really answer that!) Even if you aren’t trying to hold down a job, you are trying to take school material that was designed to be taught in a classroom and adapt it to some worksheets that you print at home.
Here’s my advice: There is no worksheet you can complete that will have educational value if you are yelling and your child is crying. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty—I totally get the frustration you must be feeling. I say that to tell you to give yourself and your kids some grace. If you feel yourself getting to that point, send them outside to jump on the trampoline. They can spell their spelling words aloud with every bounce. Write a message to your neighbor on their driveway in sidewalk chalk. It might not be the writing that was assigned, but it still has value in terms of spelling and writing. Even better, it might brighten someone else’s day and the skills you are teaching about how to care for others is a really good lesson.
Right now, my grandkids are watching a movie and eating popcorn. Yes, it is 9am. No, we don’t usually do that. But last night was a little rocky around here and we had a late bedtime and I made promises that I don’t usually make. Do I feel guilty about it? Nope. Not one bit. Later, we’ll do a little school work and I might read a few chapters of a new book that they’re interested in. They’ll tune in to the Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari and learn about some cool animals. We might watch a Youtube video to learn how to draw that animal afterward. Does this look like a normal school day? Nope. But that’s okay, because really, there’s nothing normal about this time we’re living in.
Do what you need to do to get through this with as few tears as possible. There’s no judgment here, friends. And if all else fails and you let them watch a movie first thing in the morning, relax and take it easy on yourself. But if you do, can you leave me a comment so I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing crazy stuff to survive?
Hi! I'm Janet and I've been the Director of the Before and After School and Smart Start Preschool Programs at the Troy Rec since 1994. My hubby and I have been married 30 years and we have two grown sons. Each of them is married and blessing us with grandchildren left and right. Life is good even when the nest is empty!