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10 tips from a former teacher turned homeschooling mom

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Hi Friends! Many of you have been suddenly thrown into becoming your child's teacher due to the pandemic. I know it's a scary time but I wanted to share some tips from a former teacher turned homeschool mom. I hope they encourage you and give you a sense of peace as our world is going through such a strange time.

Homeschool Tips

As a former teacher turned homeschool mom, there was definitely an adjustment period when I decided to homeschool my daughter A two years ago. It was a time of transition where I had to shift my thinking and find my groove. I know all of you are in that state of mind right now. If you need to just take it easy during this transition, do it! We are all in survival mode and you need to do what is right for you and your family. Here are some homeschool tips and thoughts that will hopefully be helpful.

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1. You need to de-school.

Whatever you think you're supposed to do in school, throw it out the window. School at home will look different for you based on your child, your lifestyle, and schedule. If your district has given you directions and material, use it to help you. But also take advantage of many of the free online resources, materials, virtual tours, read-a-loud books to help you. Remember, we need to survive until we get into a groove.

2. You do not need to replicate your child's classroom at home.

I have heard from many friends and parents in Facebook groups, stressing out because they are overwhelmed with the thought of school at home and all that it entails. First of all, BREATHE. Second, you don't need to set up a mini classroom in your house for your child. A table or corner of the room will be perfect! Don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself during such a stressful time already.

3. You don't need to teach your child for 6-8 hours a day.

This goes with de-schooling. YOU DON'T NEED TO TEACH FOR 6-8 HOURS! When I was a first grade teacher, I had 32 students in my classroom. That's a lot of little bodies with different needs, ways of working, attention span. You name it. Much of the time was taken up by redirecting children, transitioning children from one activity to another, behavioral disruptions, and sticking to a time slot for activities and lessons. When you are working one on one with your children, you will move through lessons and activities more quickly.

4. You don't need to follow a strict color coded schedule.

We've all seen the color coded schedule outlining what to do and for how long floating around Facebook. When I was in the classroom, you had to abide by a strict schedule because students were with you for a designated time plus recess and lunch. When you are at home with your kids you should definitely have a ROUTINE but you do not need to have a color coded schedule filled with things to do minute by minute. Take it easy on yourself.

5. Keep things simple.

In a world where more is more, in education and becoming sudden homeschoolers, less is more. Keep it simple. Let the kids play but ask them questions. There is ALWAYS something to learn even in the most mundane of tasks.

6. Do what works for YOU.

Your neighbor might be following the color coded schedule and all 5 of her children are doing Pinterest-worthy crafts while you're sitting in your living room flustered with your only child. Don't compare what you are doing with what Mrs. Smith is doing next door. Like I said, YOU MUST DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, YOUR CHILD, YOUR LIFESTYLE, and SCHEDULE. This is especially true for you Work-At-Home parents.

7. Be flexible.

One of the biggest things I learned in homeschooling is to be more flexible. There are some days when we get so much done and there are other days when doing any kind of academic work is like pulling teeth. It's during those days that I give myself grace and realize I can do the work later because my relationship with my child is more important than her learning how to spell or know that math concept. We can revisit it at a later time and do something else for now. During this transition time, give yourself grace in the form of movies or screen time for the sake of sanity. There is no judgement here. Don't judge yourself. Plus, you can always turn that into something academic by writing about the movie, talking about characters, setting, main idea, alternate endings, favorite parts or other movies that are similar.

8. Have a plan.

Have your materials planned so that your day and week goes well. You can write out a simple checklist of things you want to do that day. You can have color coded bins, drawers, cubbies, shelves or file folders to help organize your materials. If you have multiple children with varying academic needs, have a basket or box of independent things they can do. You can put puzzles, flashcards, coloring sheets, simple crafts, sticker books, books they can read in the box so when they are done, they can make a choice from that box while you help teach your other kids.

9. Have confidence- YOU were always your child's first teacher!

You were your child's first teacher. Who taught them to eat their first solids, take their first steps, say their first words and so much more? You were there to support and be there for them. During this unprecedented time, you will be your child's academic teacher. You can do it! There are plenty of resources to help you. The world is literally at our fingertips with the press of a button and through searching online. You can do it!!

10. See the beauty in this time.

I know it's hard to see the silver lining and beauty in this chaos. But it's there. One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool was so that I can spend more time with A. Childhood is so fleeting and during this time where you are your child's teacher, I hope that you can savor those moments. There will be times when things SUCK and you can't enjoy it but I also know that there will be many more moments that are enjoyable and so rewarding. Something I loved about being a classroom teacher and love even more as a homeschool mom is seeing the moment when my student learned something. How much more rewarding is it when it's your own child!!!

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Some Suggestions During Social Distancing

Just because you have to stay home doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself. Because we live during a time where we are connected by technology, use that technology to your advantage.

  • Set up FaceTime play dates. Yes, your house may be a mess and you have quarantine hair (a mess) but so do your friends. Set up FaceTime play dates with some of your kid's friends to have that human interaction. You can even do Group FaceTime with up to 32 people!
  • Use video conferencing tools such as Zoom to have virtual parties or hang out. Like I said above, just having human interaction is so nice and good for the soul. You can even use this to read stories to each other or as a learning tool for classmates.

Other thoughts

You'll get to have a hand in your child's education.

When I used to be a classroom teacher, there were parents that would complain about something to do with the school or an assignment or too much homework or not enough homework. I'm sure some of you might have disagreed with your child's classroom teacher or the school. Guess what!? Now that YOU are your child's teacher, here is your opportunity to have a hand in your child's education. Use this time to do things differently and help your child learn something you always wanted them to.

Your child will not fall behind because of you.

Honestly, the whole world is at a standstill so your kids missing the last two months of school will not be detrimental to their educational career. Even if they fall "behind", there is always time for them to get back on track. They may even thrive because of the abundance of educational resources that are out there right now.

The most important thing is everyone's health and safety.

This is such a weird time and it's so hard for kids to grasp what is happening in the world. What we all need to know is that we are safe, healthy, and that there is hope. You are that for your kids. You are their safety net and their source of comfort. The learning will happen eventually. Take a breather to get situated and then let the learning begin.

As always, I'm here if you need anything! I hope these homeschool tips and thoughts were helpful. Take care and much love to you all!

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