As a veteran homeschool mom, I’m not particularly fazed by the “learn at home” mandate, but my confidence as an educator wasn’t always so high. On our first day of homeschooling ten years ago, I remember thinking in the first half hour, “This is wonderful! Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
Come mid morning, however, my thoughts had shifted radically. “What were we thinking! Is it too late to re-enroll?!” And so began the ups and downs of a journey that has lasted over ten years and culminated in some amazing academic accomplishments.
To that point, my oldest child is getting ready to graduate this year. She is a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and received a perfect score on her ACT. This, in spite of four moves, many different co-op learning environments and even a part-time arrangement with our local public school. Obviously, even with all these interruptions and changes in her learning environment, our “learn at home” model worked for us, and it can work for you, too.
The bottom line is that you can do this—and do it well. To make your journey a little easier, here are a few “dos and don’ts” I’ve learned along the way.
Rule #1: Don’t stress out. No one learns well under stress, and kids pick up on your mood more quickly than you think. If you and your students are getting frustrated, it’s okay to walk away for a few minutes. In fact, the break in brainpower might just give you the breakthrough you need.
Rule #2: Do take breaks throughout the day. In addition to these brief “brain breaks,” work some planned downtime into your day. We used to call this recess, remember? A quick nature hike or walk around the block can clear the mind and help your students concentrate better when they return.
Rule #3: Do read aloud to your kids every single day. If possible, choose a book a few steps beyond your student’s current reading level. Even 30 minutes a day can reap huge dividends in increased vocabulary, comprehension and syntax, as well as empathy and imagination. Not a great reader? Pick an audio book and listen to installments over lunch.
Rule #4: Don’t focus on the checklists and miss the education. It’s easy to get caught up in “checklist” mode, where our sense of accomplishment is tied to the number of tasks we’ve completed. But making time for right brain activities (art, music, creative writing, jigsaw puzzles, etc.) will help your children become more holistic thinkers, improve their spatial abilities and boost mental speed. Now might be the perfect time to learn a new musical instrument or take up art lessons—online, of course! (Tip: Not all learning needs your constant supervision. Give them space and time to explore.)
Rule #5: Don’t forget to have fun. When we began our homeschool journey, I was encouraged to write down my goals, and one of them was that my children would become lifelong learners. They won’t value an education if it isn’t enjoyable, so take some time to find out what piques their interest and pursue activities tied to their individual passions. Many companies are offering free online learning options through the next few months, so you’re bound to find educational experiences unique to each kid.
Of course, none of us may have chosen our new “learn at home” environment, but now might be the perfect time for a “re-set,” helping your kids find new passions in the process.