Home Schooling in the COVID-19 crisis
Tips for keeping your sanity while isolating with the youngsters for the duration
T o the general public: I’m so sorry.
So, you’ve found yourselves trying to both work from home and educate your children at home with hardly any notice to prepare for a shift of such magnitude.
I want you to know that what you’re doing is so much harder than homeschooling.
Our family spends days each year researching curriculum, buying resources, and setting up systems to ensure the easiest path for educating our kids at home.
You cannot home school with the idea that you need to replicate a school environment at home. You do not have a cafeteria, a janitor, a principal, co-teachers, hall monitors, or a study period. You may not even have a dedicated work space.
I’m so thankful that Arkansas has allowed teachers to continue teaching from a distance–what a blessing for this strange time in our community. Even so, you may find yourself stressed and concerned about the academic welfare of your children.
Don’t. This time is temporary, and your children will be fine. I offer this advice from a decade in the homeschooling trenches, but most of all, I encourage you to find something that works for you and make it happen.
Your children do not need to be engaged in academia for eight hours everyday. Unless they love it, don’t force them. I have spent (and continue to spend, against my own advice) hours upon hours forcing crying children to read one more sentence or to complete one more math worksheet. Years ago, to combat my nature, I created a goal to only complete one reading lesson (15 minutes) and one math lesson (15 minutes) each day for each child in elementary school. My eldest just returned a score of 27 on the ACT, so we must have done something right. But for you, this is only temporary. Do not carry the weight of college entrance on yourself for this very limited amount of time that you find yourself responsible for their education.
See HOME SCHOOL, page A3
Adventures in Momhood HOME SCHOOL
From page A1
You are not a camp director. Bored children become creative children. You may offer guidelines like, “You need to stay in your room,” or “Go play outside,” but you do not need to provide entertainment for them every minute of every day.
We are in crisis as a society. Be pleased with yourself if you simply have survived at the end of the day. Release your expectations and self-judgment. This is only a very short phase. Life will return to normal soon.
Don’t be unwilling to use the television to give yourself a few hours of quiet time. Netflix and Amazon Prime both offer many great educational shows for all ages, but even purely entertaining shows with no intellectual value are okay, too!
Consider making a schedule and sticking to it, but loosely. Don’t yell at them if they’re not moving fast enough to start the next scheduled activity on time. Our kids scheduled blocks of time for productive, educational, or entertaining activities, and we allow one hour of screen time while I’m cooking dinner (but that doesn’t keep them from asking all. day. long.) Our kids are almost all teenagers, but you may have to modify for younger kids. Be flexible if it promotes peace. Also, I would try very hard not to let regular bedtime slide. I’ve heard that it makes for happy kids, but personally, it has made for a happy mom.
Use this time to explore the interests of your children. Remember, your kids may not have the same passion as you do, and that is wonderful. I have one who hates math but will follow along Art for Kids Hub on YouTube for hours on end. I have another who has just developed an interest in basketball. I have a few kids who spend hours on the piano, and I have encouraged baking from everyone as well, even though it makes a huge mess.
Speaking of messes, guess what happens when you’re all cooped up at home all day? You make messes. Lots of them. Let go of your need to have a show-worthy home. (Seriously, if you’re having a dinner party during this time, you’re part of the problem.) No, we don’t want puddles of milk or piles of applesauce lurking, but we don’t have to dust every shelf and sweep every floor on a daily basis.
Feed them, but don’t spend too much time on it. I used to make a hot meal for all our mealtimes, and I found myself in the kitchen upwards of 4 hours a day. Often, I just set out sandwich fixins and let them prepare their own lunch on their own time. Sometimes, they fend for themselves. Of course, if your kids are youngish still, they’ll need some direction. Just remember, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef or provide a varied menu. Keep it simple, quick, and easy.
Work hard to enjoy this time with your family. If you find yourself constantly yelling or frustrated, change your circumstances. This is a temporary time, and you can temporarily let it go, whatever it is.
Good luck! When this is all over, buy your kids’ teachers a nice gift as a giant thank you for helping you raise smart, productive members of society!
Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris and their seven children. She is a regular contributor to the Marion Ledger monthly news magazine.