Suddenly Homeschooling? Advice from a Veteran Homeschool Mom

Suddenly Homeschooling? Advice from a Veteran Homeschool Mom

Well, it’s finally happened. We’re all homeschool parents… at least for the next few weeks or so. As someone who’s been homeschooling her kids (ages 9, 7 and 5) full-time for the past four years, it feels a little different to be… suddenly not so different.

So, from one homeschooling mom to all the unexpectedly homeschooling parents out there, here’s what I’d love to tell you.

I’m cheering for you. I’m excited for you to grow with your kids. To learn new things. To experience both challenges and blessings and to see that you really can do it. I’m proud of you – and you’re not doing this alone.

A friend asked me for my best advice when it came to homeschooling, and I’d love to share it with you, too. My hope is not that you feel overwhelmed or pressured to model your homeschool after my own, but that you find one or two of my ideas helpful to equip your family for this new adventure.

Start Your Day Strong

I’ve found it works best to have the same start time for school every morning. At our house, it’s 8:30 a.m. That means, my kids are expected to be dressed and ready to go (breakfast eaten and teeth brushed) by that time.

I use the time before school starts to practice some self-care that helps fuel my day – a quick workout, getting ready, and reading my devotional.

Why do I insist everyone is ready to go when school starts? It helps my kids get into a school mindset and helps us be ready to go outside (or in non-coronavirus times – be ready to go out and about).

Routine Is Your Best Friend

While I love the flexibility that homeschooling offers, I would go crazy if we lived by a completely flexible schedule. I’ve learned that my children thrive when we follow a regular routine and occasionally flex from it as needed.

It took me a little while to figure out that I don’t need to make each day of school magically different and special. If I follow a basic routine, then we can get in a great rhythm of schoolwork, but still have fun activities on a regular basis.

Our Daily Routine (Social Distancing Version):

8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m Morning Time (more on that below)
9:15 a.m. – 10 a.m. Math (Best tackled early in the day)
10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Recess/Playtime
10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m. Language Arts & Geography
11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Science or History lesson – all ages
11:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. Clean up, prepare lunch
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch, read aloud, recess
1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Independent reading time (or audiobooks) in rooms, rest and regroup time
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Free choice projects
3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Chores, piano practice, life skills practice, playtime
4 p.m. – 5 p.m. Screentime if schoolwork and chores are completed
5 p.m. – Bedtime Dinner and family time

Morning Time: A Gentle Way to Start Your Day

I’ve found the best way to start our school day is all together. We call this morning time. Spending time together first thing helps connect us as a family and also is a gentler way to ease into the day.

With a preschooler, first grader, and fourth grader, we do everything from talking about the day of the week and the weather to poetry reading and oral narration.

Our morning time includes a lot of reading aloud, with kids listening while they work on handwriting or coloring (quiet fidget activities also work well). I read a devotional to the kids, we spend some time praying, and then I read aloud for a while from a chapter book or our history textbook (which reads like a story).

Finally, we spend some time reviewing things like math facts and geography through simple review games. Here are three easy ways to review material:

  1. Play a board game. Have children answer a review question before their turn.
  2. Fitness review. Children answer a review question, then draw a card with a physical activity on it, such as 10 jumping jacks, toe touches, and more.
  3. Stuffed animals help. Let a favorite stuffed animal join each child for morning time. Allow stuffed animals to answer questions in order to earn a small treat or sticker.

Simple Planning: Your Other Best Friend

Each Sunday evening, I pull all the schoolwork my kids will be doing that week onto a clipboard for each of them. I label assignments by day, along with any notes or instructions they may need, such as, “Ask Mom before starting this activity.” Knowing exactly what work is ahead of them has helped both my kids and I stay on track and accountable to our lesson plans.

I’ve also found that Pinterest is only a helpful resource when I’m looking for something very specific. If I just surf for ideas, I’m too overwhelmed. Instead, search for things like, “Telling time activities” when you sense your first grader could use a little extra practice.

Remind yourself, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to teaching your children. Stick to the basics and opportunities for a little fun and magic will present themselves, I promise.

The Power of Encouragement

Finally, I have had to learn again and again the power of encouragement and positivity when it comes to teaching my children. When you’re teaching a lesson, look for what they’re doing well first and build your child up.

As the parent, your tone and the words you choose to use really impact how your school day goes and how connected you are to your child.

Instead of correcting a mistake, ask questions that lead your child to find the error themselves.

Next time, I’ll share how to manage common homeschooling challenges, hitting reset on a bad school day, what to do with your toddlers and preschoolers during school time.

How else can I help you? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

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