I hope the adjustment to this new normal finds you well! As I focus on the positive, we have been enjoying several aspects of this semi-quarantined kind of life, mainly more quality family time.
With summer officially upon us, I figured I would share how we keep our kids active and engaged, without major or constant parental oversight. See I am the kind of mom who wants their kids to learn and grow as independently as their ages allow. So I tend to provide them with a framework and let them choose how to play and explore within that framework. The framework this summer is a weekly checklist that they use to track their chores and learning. I’ve included it as a free download at the end of this post, just in case you want some ideas.
The kids enjoy using this framework and respond well to the freedom of choices they have. Some days, they finish up their minimum number of tasks quickly (before lunchtime), so that they can earn screentime. Other days they go through it slowly, where every task becomes a gateway to a whole creative world. Either way, they are content and playing and learning, and I am content and working, or guiding them, or doing the million other tasks required of a mother.
So depending on where you get your news and how much time you spend gathering information, you may have realized that the fear is starting to settle in from the CoVid-19 virus, commonly know as coronavirus. So what do you do about it?
Well for our family, I’ve been planning a new twist on the staycation, namely a quarantine-themed spring break (I’ll have to come up with a trendy term for it). And how does one go about planning such a fun-filled week with 3 rambunctious kids, you ask?
Here it is, my plan-in-the-making for our quaran-break (hmmm, maybe):
Plan to not leave the house.
This was implied in the word quarantine, but humans have the odd need to re-state the obvious, so there you have it.
Stock up on essentials.
This is where your prepper skills will win the day. But since not everyone knows where to start, I’ll list my top priorities.
First I should preface my list with a disclaimer, I believe whole-heartedly that our family WILL get the virus. Now that we no longer homeschool, the kids go to school in a HUGE petrie dish. I’ve just accepted that we’ll get it, and I’m moving forward from there. So here’s my list:
Toilet paper – umm, yeah, I would HATE to run out
Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen for children and adults – fever is the number 1 symptom with this virus
Other medical supplies:
Nasal sprays, aspirators
Vitamin C supplements – Airborne, etc.
Homeopathics, oils, colloidal silver – whatever floats your boat (and this may be the time to try something new)
Anything else you can think of to keep you breathing comfortably
90 day supply of any prescriptions
Food and water for 2 – 4 weeks (I could write a whole other blog on this, but so many have – use Google or Pinterest if you need ideas for this)
Hand soap – we use the regular stuff, I’m not sure how well the antibacterial soap would do in this situation, but it never hurts to have an extra store of both kinds
Disinfectants – sprays, wipes, hand sanitizers, etc.
Dish soap, dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, etc. – stuff to get clean
Those are my biggest priorities, please feel free to add your priorities to the comments.
Make it less miserable.
This is where the real planning comes in, no one wants Spring Break to be boring and stuck at home. My husband and I haven’t finished deciding our plan yet, but here are some ideas:
Make it truly Survival Themed – with camping in the living room, low tech games and activities, and survival skill lessons. Just, you know, don’t burn the house down…
Plan a Spring Cleaning Frenzy – get the kids involved in clearing out their rooms, play areas, etc.
Focus on the Family – dig into family history, make family trees, teach the kids about the way their ancestors lived, tell family stories, make your own family story/memory book, have videocalls with your relatives (technology is a wonderful thing).
Ask the Kids – we’ve asked our kids for ideas and here’s what they said: build a fort, board games, crafts, origami, teach us to cook, etc. Basically they are hoping for time to spend with us without distractions.
There are tons more ideas on the web for what to do over the summer with the kids at home, including my earlier post. Do some digging and find something that will work for your family.
How ever you face this plague, keep in mind that a good plan and a healthy dose of faith can turn a week (or more) of misery into a meaningful family-strengthening memory. Don’t let the fear bring you down.
Update 8 March 2020: I am in no way endorsing hoarding, this is not the time to get a year’s supply of anything. But careful and measured preparation will lighten the load on the healthcare systems and local governments. So my updated recommendations include trying to get 90 day refills on your prescriptions and self-isolating if you are in a higher risk group.
Today I’ve decided to go back in time to when I was first considering homeschooling. I’ll be honest, it was a scary idea.
First of all, I did not think I had the patience to put up with all of my kids, all day, every day. And I wasn’t surprised the first couple years when I lost my temper, a lot. In fact, the first semester of First grade was the worst. I was feeling a lot of pressure to do school in a traditional way. Ironically I had researched different methods and decided I didn’t want to do traditional, but I was still teaching the way I knew.
But I think I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with the basics:
Why are you considering homeschooling?
We all have different reasons for this, for some it’s faith-based, for some it’s academics, for some it’s politics, for many it’s the realization that public school and your kid just don’t mix well.
My reasons are like a recipe of the above, a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of “my kid is too crazy for anyone else!” Heheh!
One thing a lot of old-school homeschoolers recommend is to write a mission statement for your homeschool. I don’t have one formally spelled out, but it’s given me the foundation I need. Here are a couple great articles on reasons and mission statements:
Everyone who is new to this has concerns, the key is understanding them. A helpful tool is researching how others addressed the same concerns. I highly recommend searching Pinterest, there is a treasure trove of homeschooling bloggers out there.
Once you’ve done your research, you can decide if you are convinced enough to try it, or not. (If not, you probably won’t be interested in the rest of this post, but, seriously, Thanks for stopping by!)
While you are researching your concerns, you should check out the homeschooling laws in your area. I strongly recommend HSLDA for getting all the details and forms that you would need in one place. These guys are priceless!
Some of the many concerns we have with homeschooling:
Second is what this post is mostly about, making a plan. So on to…
Figure out which method suits you best.
If you are really new to this, you’ll be asking yourself, “What in the world is a homeschool method?”
A homeschool method is the style and set of guiding principles you will use to help you teach and select curriculum. Understanding how you want to teach (and how you actually teach) are important to overcome fears and get a handle on what can be an overwhelming selection of resources.
Basically, you will learn about at least 5 different methods:
Traditional – often called school at home
Classical – modern version of teaching style from ancient Rome & Greece
Charlotte Mason – focuses on teaching out of real books and nature study
Unit Studies – uses 5 or 6 week units for teaching subjects
Sometimes, the best way to research different methods is to focus on them one at a time. This way you hear from individual homeschoolers the reasons why they like what they use.
Once you start to get an idea of the method you want to try, then you can start figuring out what kind of learning styles will work best with your kid(s). You want to make sure you have a good idea of how your child learns best.
Fortunately there are a number of resources for assessing your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Feel free to search for Learning Style Assessments, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t need to pay for one.
Keep in mind that assessments are meant as guidelines. Don’t prohibit your kids from learning any way they can. I was surprised to find out that my little fireball of a girl, the one who NEVER stops moving, actually enjoys worksheets. Granted, she does them while sitting on top of the school table, but, hey, she’s learning.
So you’ve figured out your reasons, your method, and your child(ren)’s learning style, now can we get to curriculum?
Yes, now you are armed and prepared to venture into the curriculum market.
My first step to choosing curriculum was reading reviews of other moms and the choices they made for their kids, especially if they are using the same method (or variant thereof).
Actually, I can’t think of any of my curriculum that I wasn’t referred to by another homeschool mom, either online or in person (except Scripture Study).
After you have your choices in your hot little hands, it’s time to plan out your year of lessons. Don’t rush yourself unless you have to, my first year it took me at least 4 weeks to put together my lesson plan. It took less than a week the next year.
Your first step is to go through the chapter titles and read through the first lesson. Do this the night you get your books (if you can) to get a feel for what you’ve signed up for. If you realize you don’t like it, don’t feel guilty about returning it and trying something else.
Some curriculum is easy to plan, 1 lesson per day. Others are not as easy, especially if your kid is a third of the way through the year already. If you are in that situation, where your kid has part of a year’s work done, but is clearly not ready for the next year, then you will need to go through the curriculum more carefully during your planning period.
I went through and combined or skipped several lessons that my son was past. From some lessons, I would only use one point in order to serve as a review. In that way, he didn’t get bored dragging his feet through something he had already mastered.
Don’t forget that YOU are the teacher now, you control what you want your kids to learn, not a school district, state, or nation. Though there are homeschool laws you need to be mindful of, they don’t decide the day-to-day learning needs of your kid. That’s all you!
If you are spreadsheet person, I have an example of how I planned my first year for you here (there’s a lot of real life in here, because this is the version at the end of the year, I updated it every week with our progress): Lesson Plan_First Grade
By now you should be ready to get started.
Be sure to hit the back-to-school sales at Walmart and stock up on pencils, paper, and crayons.
Start day one with some pictures and celebrating, get excited and your kids will be too.
You can also use a First Day of School worksheet like this one (feel free to shorten it, my kids never get through the whole thing): First Day of School Interview
Have fun! And don’t try to do too much too fast!
Finally, forgive yourself and your kid(s) for bad days. You and they will have them.
You may even end up with a lot of them when you start. If that’s the case, you’re probably trying to do too much in a day.
Part of my trouble my first year, was that I tried to do every subject every day. I gave myself a LOT of work in preparation each day, and I couldn’t keep up. I was also putting a lot of pressure on my oldest to get his assignments done because we needed to get on to the next assignment. It did NOT work well for us.
Fortunately I had a some more experienced friends in church that helped me see I was doing too much. It really is ok to do one lesson per subject per week. You don’t have to get through a book in a year. If you still want to finish one book per year, you can skip lessons or combine them so you have a block of each subject each week.
I have some core subjects that my kids have to do independently, and then I teach 1 or 2 lessons per school day. That way we still get done what we need to, and I don’t go insane. Heheh!
Here are a couple of articles on overcoming bad days:
However you do it, make sure it works for your family. Have fun and enjoy the journey!
As I was driving around last week, I was reflecting on what it would be like if my kids went to public school. What I could do with all that time! And then I realized that I would probably mope and feel lonely without them. My kids give me so much love and encouragement throughout the day, even when they don’t mean to, that I realized I would miss them. I know now that even if I could afford pay a tutor to teach them all the things that I think they would need, I would miss them too much to get anything done. I am grateful to be homeschooling and I hope you can be too!
I hope this has given you some ideas that help. Here are some other resources you may enjoy:
So right now it feels like there’s a train wreck of ideas and projects inside my head. As I’m trying to build my platform I have so many ideas and avenues to explore, it’s sometimes hard to identify which ones to focus on on any given day. I’ll list a few, in no particular order…
For my blog:
At least 2 more author interviews to post articles on, with 2 more on the way (all 4 are self-published or hybrid, I’d like to line up some more traditionally published authors as well…)
A mile-long list of Christlike Virtues that I want to post articles on (i.e. Honesty, Charity, Hope, Patience, Temperance, Morality, Learning, Mercy, Thrift, Repentance, Obedience, Chastity, etc.)
Half a dozen homeschool topics and lessons learned I can expand on (lesson independence, busy boxes, daily, weekly, and annual schedules, setting up a lesson plan, and organization and setting up your space)
A well-planned rant on defining poor vs. rich and who should be helping whom (Hint: if you can read this on a device you own, you are among the world’s wealthiest…)
For my books:
Polishing my manuscript for my first book
Polishing my query letter for my first book
Proofreading my second book
Finishing the first draft for my third book
Figuring out the outline for my historical novel based on my Great Great Grandparents
These are the best laid-out ideas and tasks ahead of me, though there are more in the wings. I know it’s a lot better to have too many than too few. But it can be just as difficult to succeed. When I was a partner in a retail store, the main thing that brought us down was not knowing how to handle too many customer orders. Heheh! A problem most would envy, but it still can kill a business. So I realize I need to put together a project plan, just as I put together a marketing plan (yet another topic I can post).
Anyone have any tips and tools on how you managed and prioritized the ideas in your head?