With the Coronavirus closing down schools all over the nation, thousands of children are coming home to be educated. Kids will be appearing every morning, ready (or not so ready) to crack the books, open the laptop, flip the page of the packet…you get the picture.
And the teachers are…guess who? Mom and Dad.
In this unprecedented move to close all the public schools (and colleges, and libraries, and bars, and restaurants) our leaders are attempting to slow down the rate at which Covid-19 spreads. “Social distancing,” as it is called, is being touted as the only way in which thousands of people will be spared getting the sickness at exactly the time overwhelming hospitals.
As a homeschooler for 9 years, I have been educating my children every day in the same way a lot of moms and dads are doing it now for the very first time…and also not.
Here’s what I mean. This is actually not “homeschooling,” at least, as we know it. Some elements are the same (the schoolwork, the complaining, the endless snack eating), but that’s about it. I guess what I am here to tell everyone is: this is not typical homeschooling.
Out and About
Most homeschoolers will tell you that they are so busy being out and about in the community that they actually have to schedule time to be in their home to complete curriculum work. It’s kind of an unspoken joke. One homeschool mom might say to another, “No, we really can’t make it this week. We have to finish chapter 5 in math.” Other homeschool mom nods head knowingly.
My boys and I have done a lot of different things over the years including weekly co-ops where parents teach a variety of developmentally appropriate classes, play-dates at the park, classes in the community, art class, sports, library events, church events. Currently we belong to a bi-weekly co-op, a weekly high school level course, weekly library meet-ups and a few other things.
And right now, they are all cancelled.
Don’t get me wrong. They should be cancelled. But, even for homeschoolers, we are not used to this amount of family “togetherness.”
Many homeschoolers, unless you are a total beginner, have had some time under their belts to discern how each child learns best, what is the parents preferred way of teaching, what curriculum is a good fit and other important actors.
Public school parents were literally thrust into this role overnight!
I do not envy you and I want to support you.
A lot of homeschool moms work as well, but, we have had the time to arrange our schedules so that it’s somewhat conducive to homeschooling. I write part-time and teach nature classes, but I homeschool around that.
Public school parents whose kids are home are probably expected to be just as productive in their home offices, while schooling at home, a Herculean undertaking.
A little free advice
I was recently asked to offer up a sample schedule for a nationally published article I wrote online. I felt really bad doing it, because, I didn’t want some mom, who is home for the first time during this pandemic to read it, try it, and feel like a failure.
Here’s what I can offer to moms teaching at home right now: Take some time to observe your children’s learning habits. Just a day or two. Look and see where they like to work, do they like to sit at a table, on the couch, do they use the computer, do they have to shut out noise with headphones…anything that can clue you into their learning style.
Get to know them as students.
Evaluate how your day might flow. And you need to know that the schedule that might work for your colleague and her children, may not work at all for you.
Take notes, jot down ideas, and even think outside the box.
One of the things I have been hearing is that the amount of work sent home is way too much to handle. If you are in the situation, I want to give you permission to not do it all, or do it at a slower pace.
Lastly, this: spend time with your kids.
Kids need relationships with their parents right now. They need us to be together and they need us to not be totally stressed out. They are feeling their own fears right now. So, it’s ok to take time out during the day to watch a movie with them, bake, plants seeds, or just chat.
Ask yourself: when this is finally all over, how do you want your children to remember this time? And act on it.