The world looks much different today than we could have ever predicted when 2020 kicked off. With Covid-19 causing a worldwide pandemic and national emergency, we’re all doing our part to help slow the spread and flatten the curve.
So, for all of you who are about to become involuntary homeschoolers, as a public educator/homeschool mom hybrid myself, I offer you 12 tips on how to keep your sanity and help your kids thrive at home during this unprecedented worldwide event.
1. Be honest.
Kids are hearing a lot about coronavirus and impending doom from their peers. They need to hear truth from you. Talk with them. Share honest details. Trust yourself as the parent to know how much to share, but know that kids can usually handle more than you think. Here’s a great podcast to listen to together that offers helpful info without inducing panic.
Read to them. Read with them. Have them read to each other. Use audiobooks from the library. If you do nothing else but read for the next month or two, you’ll be just fine.
3. Be flexible.
Pay attention to your kids’ moods, interests, feelings and let that impact what you do. Make plans, but let them be more of a guide than a requirement. If you try something and it doesn’t work, move on. Don’t try and recreate school at home. Much of the way school is structured is because teachers are having to manage the learning of 30+ kids, so you don’t need to employ similar strategies at home. Enjoy the freedom of being home.
This is a strange word that I was unfamiliar with until I started homeschooling. Basically it means that you place things around the house to incite curiosity in your kids. It can be craft items, games, books, whatever you can think of that might get your kid’s mind spinning. It’s so fun to see what sparks their interest!
5. Ask for help.
Talk to friends that are in the same boat and see how things are going. You may get some great ideas, but at the very least, you’ll feel less alone.
6. Simplify everything else.
Make easy meals, suspend big projects, do what’s minimally required. Before long, the world will return to normal and there will be time for other things. For now, take care of what’s most important- your family and those who are vulnerable around you.
7. Don’t plan every minute.
Make time for yourself and make time for your kids to be bored. I’ve seen sample schedules floating around social media that have every minute planned out. Don’t do that. It’s good for your kids to be on their own for a while with nothing planned. I mean, don’t go full Lord of the Flies style, but you’ll love seeing what they come up with when they have freedom.
And you need to make time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about taking some down time to rest. Read, play a game, talk to a friend, or even take a nap.
8. Focus on life skills.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard against the school system in my time as a professional educator is the lack of life skills taught to kids in public school, from cooking and money management to perseverance and communication. Well, here’s your chance! Do life with your kids and teach them as you go. Cook with them, show them how you budget and pay your bills, have them help make appointments, show them how to do a basic sewing repair, how to hang a picture. Write letters to family members or nursing homes who can’t have visitors. Give them an area of the home or a meal of the week or a project to take full control of. This is a great way to find a silver lining in a tough circumstance.
9. Go outside.
As far as I know, the outdoors is not canceled.
10. See friends if/when you can.
This one may be controversial, and you should obviously use your best judgment when it comes to protecting your family and friends, but social distancing is especially important with large groups. Take advantage of small gatherings of friends when possible. Community and connection is one way we’re going to get through this. If you have an at risk family member, stay home and spend time with each other. Personally, we have a high risk family member in our home, so we’ve canceled all gatherings in our own house, but we’ll still visit small groups of friends when it seems wise.
(Update as of 3/16/2020- Based on new CDC recommendations, we have revised this policy for our family. There is now only ONE family that we’re spending time with [our cousins] and we are the only family they’re spending time with. We will mostly meet for hikes, etc. outdoors as the weather permits, and sometimes at their house. Our house is still off limits as we do our best to protect my elderly grandmother. #4generations1house)
11. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
12. Build relationships and have fun.
You’ve been gifted time with your kids that you didn’t have before. Even if they “learn” nothing for the rest of the school year, they’ll be okay! You’ll want them to have fond memories of this time, not memories of you freaking out.
When all is said and done, we’ll want to have loved well and handled this unpredictable situation with grace and kindness. Decide now how you’ll choose to walk this out. Your kids are watching.