Our kids are out of school for a minimum of 2 weeks starting today, and I woke up this morning without a plan. We watched Science Mom and Math Dad (love them!) and then had an hour of quiet reading, and recess.
That’s about as far as I got today. The amount of information on the internet is overwhelming. Since a lot of us have unexpectedly found ourselves in the role of Teacher until further notice, I asked my sweet friend Lauren (an absolute homeschool pro, and super fun Mom!) to share any and everything she thinks might help. What she has to say is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope this post helps get your head in the right space as well.
Homeschooling In Difficult Times
With all of the school closings and crazy times we are living through, I thought I’d share some information for those of you who will be homeschooling for the next few weeks. I am by no means a homeschooling expert, and I’m sure lots of more experienced moms will be sharing great resources, but I figured if I helped even one person, it would be worth my time to write something up! I’ve been homeschooling for 7 years, and our four children range from 2 years old to 10 years old. We are by no means experts at staying home- we are very sociable homeschoolers- but I think we probably have more experience with it than the average family.
I truly think the most important thing we can focus on during this time is our family culture. We want our children to come out of this experience with memories of the happy times we spent together, resetting our ‘normal’ to revolve around family togetherness and our homes. I completely understand not wanting your children to get academically behind, but I would suggest you never try to replicate the school experience in your home. This is a time to learn together, grow together, and become closer. I believe this time could be a blessing for your family. I hope you all are able to come out of this with a new reliance on each other and a new concentration on what really matters in life!
First of all, in times of stress (which can be any time in raising a family, no national crisis needed!) I think children can thrive off of expectations and structure. We do a lot of field tripping and group activities in our homeschool life, so we are definitely not used to spending all our time here. This is the daily schedule I wrote up for our family, and the kids are loving it so far. It can make your day amazingly easier if everyone knows what is coming next, especially if you have a child who gets bored easily.
I’d like to share some of our favorite non-book learning ideas too- technology can be such a blessing to your family, especially for those who don’t have a true curriculum to work at home with. One of our favorite things to do is watch a YouTube video and then I have the kids illustrate what we learned about and write about it. My kids don’t think its school work at all! Our favorite is Saddleback Kids videos– they are fantastic Bible stories and can open up some great discussions with your kids.
There are SO many great videos for kids on YouTube- this is a fantastic opportunity to find out what your kids are excited about and interested in, and run with it! Children will retain an amazing amount of information when they are learning something they are interested in. We love doing a science project and then finding a great video to learn more about the subject! We recently did one on bouncing bubbles, then watched a video on bubble science, and it was lots of fun for the whole family.
We can’t go on field trips right now but there are some really great virtual field trips available to watch together. Every year at Thanksgiving we watch the Scholastic virtual field trip through the Mayflower and Pilgrim and Native American village! A quick trip to pinterest will find tons of fun projects to work together on. Scholastic is even offering 20 days of learning projects and ideas for free here. I can’t wait to work on some of these with my kids!
Reading aloud together can be amazing for your family. I definitely recommend you try having what a lot of homeschoolers call ‘morning time’ or ‘basket time’ where you try to fill up your children with good and beautiful things. Its okay to fidget and play legos or magnatiles- it’s also great to make it a tea time with yummy snacks. If you don’t feel like reading aloud, try to find a great audiobook for your family! The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is a favorite of ours. Lots of howling to keep the little ones interested!
Try exposing your children to some of your favorite things. They will catch onto your excitement and watching them experience something you love for the first time is SO fun. I remember the first time my oldest ran to me, so very mad at Snape, and I loved experiencing that with her again!
If you have preschoolers, print out worksheets in their favorite theme and use pinterest to find a project they will enjoy. If they are devastated the rodeo was cancelled, print out a rodeo worksheet pack and build yourself a cucumber cactus! There are so many free options.
If you have little ones, I definitely recommend a sensory box or something tactile for them to play with when you are doing school with the big kids or introducing a difficult concept. I change these out monthly for my kids and they are such a hit. One of their favorites was the water beads and some scoops and cups. It provided hours of entertainment! We use a big under-bed storage box, and it has been everything from a dinosaur park to a kinetic sand bin! Also don’t be afraid to have your big kids help manage the little ones. I often have the kids take turns spending one on one time with each other and playing with this type of activity if I need to teach something that requires a lot of focus to an individual child.
There are going to be so many resources to tap into during this time. I just want to encourage you to connect with your child’s heart, love on them, love on your family, and make this a happy memory for your children. We are all here to support one another, and just remember- sometimes you can teach math making cookies, and sometimes you can learn to spell while you jump on the trampoline. If you find yourself or your kids getting stir crazy, try a change of room- reading a book piled on mommy and daddy’s bed is way more fun than the couch- a picnic in the backyard can cure so many problems. Nature journaling and illustrating can be a great way to spend time outdoors. Overall, embrace those little wild hearts and our calling of motherhood!
Thank you so much for this, Lauren! Your words and wisdom are a wealth of knowledge! Follow Lauren on Instagram Here