For many parents, social distancing means their children are home for the rest of the school year.
If your children are younger, you may be having to supervise their learning more directly than if they are older and can be more self-directed.
Homeschooling can be daunting if you’ve never formally had to teach your children.
You may feel unqualified. Or your kids may be complaining that you’re not doing it right, or you’re not doing it the way their teacher does it.
Maybe you’re worried that your kids will fall behind in their education because of this.
You’re tearing your hair out trying to do it all: be a loving parent, be an effective teacher, all while doing your own work (outside the home or from home) or “holding down the fort” while your partner works.
You may feel like you’re losing it right now!
How can you (and your kids) stay sane while trying to homeschool?
If you are feeling the stress and pressure about this right now, I’m glad you’re here reading this. As a parenting expert of 30+ years, as well as a former credentialed teacher AND a parent who homeschooled my own child, I have a perspective you will find comforting and calming.
I want you to think about your child’s 6-hour school day, overseen by your child’s magnificent teachers.
(If you haven’t appreciated your child’s teachers, you do now—in ways you may not have before!)
In that 6-hour school day, how much of that time is spent
There’s a ton of time that’s not spent in actual learning.
In fact, if you were to whittle it down to the actual time your child is learning something in a focus, intense way, it’s a fraction of that 6-hour day.
What this means is that you don’t need to replicate a 6-hour school day to keep your kids on track. If you can keep them focused in a much shorter amount of time, they can easily stay up with where they need to be.
You don’t need to worry that your kids are falling behind because they’re not sitting down to lectures and assignments 6 hours per day. They’ll be fine with just a fraction—maybe a couple of hours or so—of focused learning, and that learning doesn’t always have to be so structured and formal.
There’s something else to be grateful for at this extraordinary time…
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be “less than” or a poor substitute for classroom learning.
On the contrary, homeschooling affords children the opportunity to get creative with their interests.
If your child really likes learning about horses, for example, you can suggest he or she build a horse out of clay or Legos. They can write a funny poem about horses. They can watch free educational online videos about horses and write down three new things they learned. They can write and illustrate their own home-made children’s book about horses. They can play “teacher” to their siblings and teach them something they know about horses.
The possibilities are endless, and it helps kids follow their passion and express themselves in the way that most suits them.
This can be in addition to or in place of their structured lesson plan.
In general, though, it’s important to be realistic about how much time you can personally devote to teaching your children one-on-one if you’re working from home.
Having homeschooled my own son for a period of time, I can say that homeschooled children by and large have certain skills that are desirable. They tend to be more independent learners. Certain colleges prefer children who are homeschooled because they are self-starters.
They know what steps are necessary to complete a task.
They don’t need to be prodded or nagged.
They are more likely to recognize their weaknesses in a subject and take the necessary actions to become more proficient.
Therefore, homeschooling is an opportunity for your children to develop some wonderful life-long skills. They can capitalize on their natural gifts and strengths.
If you take some of the fear out of the fact that they’re not following a rigid curriculum and be more creative, you’ll realize that homeschooling can be a positive thing, not a detriment.
The big takeaway I’d like for you to get from this article is this:
Even if your children did nothing academically the rest of the school year, and you got through with everyone feeling safe and loved, you’d be doing GREAT!
The most important goal right now for parents is not for your children to excel academically in ways they haven’t before.
Or for you to “do it all” and be the “perfect” parent.
Or to have unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish in the next few weeks or months while there’s so much uncertainty.
Or to beat yourself up because your kids didn’t get all their assignments done today and spent most of the day playing.
Your most important goal as a parent is to allow your children to feel safe and loved.
I understand you may not know how to do that in these confusing, stressful times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that’s okay because as I’ve mentioned in this article, you don’t need to be perfect or beat yourself up when you’re already dealing with so much at this time.
I want to help and show you, with practical and compassionate advice, how to be the calm, supportive and loving Captain of the Ship to your kids.
But of course, I can’t possibly work with ALL parents one-on-one.
That’s why I’ve partnered with Flourish, so I can help extend my help and guidance to as many parents as possible.
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We can be stronger as a result of all this, and we can become closer with our kids.
Please take care and stay well.