Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thinking about Homeschooling?

As this school year starts with no right answer on schools, some may find themselves considering homeschooling.

First, let me assure you that this year homeschooling won't be normal for us either, as many of our usual social activities are also restricted.

Is homeschool the right option for you and your kids? Maybe.
Helpful I know. ;)  Here are some things to consider.

Regardless of what you choose, you must do what is best for you, your children, and your family.

Online School 
If you are joining your public or private school's online platforms, you should know that you technically aren't homeschooling.

The benefit of this, is that it is school, just at home. You won't be picking your kid's curricula, or grading assignments, or hopefully doing any more than the homework you usually helped them with. So relax and don't worry about joining homeschool groups or getting curricula. Your child's days will be busy with work from the school. They will still be part of an accredited school and get a report card.

However, the drawback is the same as the benefit. You will be considered a student at that school and therefore required to meet their workloads, time, technological and other requirements. If you're looking for more "freedom" than a traditional schedule, then this might not work for you. For example, if you think your child needs extra time this year to work on getting their reading better or math drills, you don't truly have that choice to make. If you're doing school at home for multiple children, this can be not only a technical challenge (with multiple computer classes going), but a parental challenge of keeping younger kids especially engaged with a computer screen all day.

The first thing to look at if you're considering homeschooling, is what your State Requires of Homeschoolers.  Usually the requirements are very simple such as registering with your state or district or end of year testing (which I assure you is easy to get done.)

I would then ask you to consider what you want your days to look like. Are you envisioning yourself with apples on your sweater, writing ABCs on the chalkboard? Or are you seeing your family out on nature hikes? Reading books by the fire? Watching documentaries?  Painting in a field? All answers are ok. Homeschooling is really a reflection of your family culture.

Are you teaching some of your subjects to multiple children or each individually. If you have multiple students homeschooling. I highly recommend combining some subjects, such as Literature, History, Science and more. Once you do your Math, Reading, and Writing on individual levels, it is easier to do some things together.

Before you buy anything here are some questions to ponder:
 - What things have I always wanted to teach my kids about (a hobby, language, geography, culture, music, cooking, sport)?
 - If I could do anything I wanted for 1 year with my family, what would I do?
 - What do we love doing together?
- What did I love doing in school?
 - What does my child(ren) love doing?
- What is something I would like to learn about?(space, gardening, art, history, a culture, language, programing, technology)
- Do I enjoy reading aloud to my child(ren)?
- Am I nervous about teaching a certain subject?
- What subjects do I look forward to teaching and do I dread?
Picture a perfect day in your home and describe it. What would a total failure look like?

Once you have some of these answers, then you can begin to make choices for your homeschool curricula. (see next post coming soon!)

I'll address the elephant in the room. This pandemic holds socialization challenges for all of us. Regardless of what schooling option you choose, assuring your child has healthy, safe relationships should always be a priority. That ay mean planning more outside events this year and thinking outside the box.

If you have any questions about homeschooling or would like help choosing curricula for your family, contact me.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Doing School at Home (for now)

A few friends contacted me and asked for my best homeschool advice, so here goes.

This is not the list I've seen others posting with curriculum ideas or Homeschool 101. This is reality and practical advice.

1) "Be Not Afraid" For most of you, this will pass and it is just a phase. You can do anything, especially when it comes to your children!  You know them and love them. That is what makes a great teacher. Just love them! Relationship is always first.
You have support from your schools, just do your best.

2) Boundaries for Everyone!
This does not mean you have to have a strict schedule. It does mean you need to set the expectation for everyone that there will need to be alone time and quiet time. Yes, mom needs to pee without being interrupted!  (Still working on that here!)

3) Teach your kids something you love!
Seriously, these make the best family memories. I love to teach my kids about Art and History or reading great books together. My husband couldn't be happier teaching the kids to fix something, doing a physics experiment, or teaching math. It is a gift for your kids to see the things you enjoy!
This is also be a time to teach them how to make a favorite recipe, balance a checkbook, talk about faith, or other things that in general there seems no be no time for.

4) Be Flexible!
Things are going to change for each of us over the next few weeks, so don't be too hard on yourself. If someone in your family gets ill, that perfect schedule will fly out the window (as well it should).
School At home will probably take less time than a school day, as your child will work at their pace. That's ok!  So fill your days with some fun too. 

5) Take breaks individually and together.
One of my children sets a timer in between every subject for 10 mins so he can play. Others, prefer to get it all done so they have their afternoons free. Just because school only has 1 recess doesn't mean you can't have 5!  Go out and play with the kids, you need exercise too! No matter how their days are scheduled, there is still plenty of time for alone and together play.

6) Play Games
Make playing a game part of your day. It can be card games, board games, tag, races, tic-tac-toe, anything!

7) Come up with Challenges or Theme days.
I'm working on a list of ideas to share such as Lego challenges, Family book club, Art Contests, and more. This will help use that extra creativity and fight boredom.

8) Get outside if you can.
Go for a walk or camp in your own backyard. You can do schoolwork outside, in a tree, on the playground set, or in a tent!  Make it fun!

9) Play Music.
Instead of yelling for the kids to do certain things like chores, pick songs as cues. A good upbeat dance some is great for chores. Can the room get cleaned up before the end of "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

10) Talk to your kids
Everyone is frustrated and confused. Talk to your kids about how they feel. Stay positive and just be there for them.
Watch movies and talk about them? What did they think about why characters made certain choices? Do they think it was right?
Read books together! This will create lots of conversation.

Overall, be a MOM!  Of course there will be bad days. There always are no matter the situation.
Pray for patience and understanding.
Stay positive and be kind.