I am enough. You are enough.
Last night before bed I began, yet again, examining and reworking our homeschool rhythm.
You are not alone!
After a short break to adjust to Dad’s new week on/ week off nursing schedule and a birthday celebration, we are ready to dive (or should I say Glide back in). My oldest just turned 12 and along with him I homeschool my nearly 6 and 7 year-old daughters while wrangling their nearly 3 and newly 1 year-old brothers.
We are wrapping up our second year of homeschooling, just as most of the world has now been thrown into it. Friends from far and wide have reached out to ask for advice and for resource recommendations to help enrich their children’s education and foster connection during this time.
Here’s what I’ve got!
It’s a juggling act.
I’m no expert, but I know what works for us and what rewards me as a parent and learning partner. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, it was a juggling act to fit it all in. I’ve learned to take the days slowly, and to remind myself gently and often of our goals.
I chose to homeschool my children so that they could develop deep connections with one another and with the world around them. I didn’t want their childhood to be rushed and governed by strict schedules. I wanted to shield them from intense social and academic pressures and to foster a genuine love for learning and appreciation for the simple things.
I keep these goals on our wall as a reminder to all of us.
Take time to adjust.
When we first started out I spent countless hours researching state standards for each grade, investing in various curriculum resources to teach those specific standards, and creating and modifying numerous schedules so that we made sure we were hitting all these points. I wish I had listened to veteran homeschoolers who suggested a period of deschooling. Deschooling is simply a period of time when you gently adjust to your new routine. It gives children the freedom to explore, follow their interests, and discover all the different ways they can learn.
In the case of “accidental homeschoolers” thrown into this because of COVID-19, if the work being provided by your children’s amazing teachers is working for you and them, that’s all you need! If it’s not, I assure you that if you let them play and explore nature, watch YouTube videos about things that interest them, create art, read, imagine, pretend, snuggle, climb, jump, and be silly — this is enough. Even for middle-schooler and high schoolers, it’s enough. I promise you.
The Role of Play and Interest-Based Learning
I used to think that play-based learning was reserved for pre-school aged kids. But once I sat back and watched my middle schooler building forts with his sisters and teaching his brother how to ride a bike, I soon realized that there was so much learning going on. Learning how to collaborate, and guide, how to be creative and how to manage stress.
Not only should play, in my opinion, be at the forefront of a home learning environment, but interest-led learning should have a big place at the table as well. This means follow your kids’ interests! Simple! They retain so much more when they have a desire to learn something.
Ok — this sounds great — so where’s the practical advice here?
I’m with you.
In addition to creating this magical home learning environment where kids play in the dirt and love math — there’s dishes and screaming toddlers, laundry and food shopping (while wearing a mask of course!). The weight of the world is piled on your shoulders.
So how do we actually make it through?
I’m following the advice of a wise old sage and Harvard graduate (my father) and literally taking it one day at a time.
The kids work on math and language arts daily — this doesn’t have to be super-structured: a few pages in a math book; building and naming 3D shapes with magnatiles; telling the time; sounding out words on the back of a cereal box; acting out verbs and trying to see how many adjectives we can use to describe coronavirus.
Sometimes “school” waits.
I’ve found the more I plan and don’t achieve my goals the more let-down I feel. So I look for opportunities to learn through what we are doing — and document that!
For the big guy, I let him do online school! It’s not as amazing as all of us piled around the table building working robots, but he’s learning about things that interest him (and yes, some things that don’t!) from experts in their fields. He does this on his own time so we aren’t driven by a schedule. If dad’s home and we are planting our garden — then “school” waits. If we walk to a nearby creek to celebrate the fabulous weather and the beauty Mother Nature is sustaining us with right now — then “school” waits.
There are silver linings if we look for them during this time.
I am so fortunate to have the privilege to stay at home to stop the spread, and I realize others are working on the front lines to provide me with this. I thank them by sharing what experience I have and celebrating “each day as a gift and every moment as a miracle” — more advice from another wise sage, my brother, Jake.
1 thought on “Homeschooling”
This is wonderful!