Home School 101

April 17, 2020

We’re a month into staying home at my house. To be honest it’s starting to feel strangely normal. Maybe it’s because I haven’t stepped foot in a Walmart or Target in over a month thanks to pickup services… (We even got some toys a couple of weeks ago to drop off at my son’s friend’s house since their birthday party got canceled.😥) We regularly watch our church online. I’m keeping in touch with friends through text, social media and more recently video chat. But then there are things that don’t feel as natural to me. i.e. homeschooling.

I don’t mean to completely knock it. I have several good friends and a sister-in-law that homeschool their children and love it. They’ve found it to be their calling and enjoying teaching their children at home. I have never desired that. I really enjoy the separation that my kids and I have when it comes to school. With kindergarten (and even preschool) they are learning how to navigate their little corners of the world on their own, coming home with new knowledge and experiences.  I miss that so much. They’ve also been making their own relationships. Right before we started staying home, my son had a friend over for his first “drop-off” playdate. It was so neat to watch them interact. My children are being taught by people that have been trained to teach and WANT to teach.  Anyway, I’m not here to debate homeschool vs school outside the home. What I am going to talk about is my household experience with homeschooling.

I’m not going to lie the beginning was tough. 😰 I was a nervous wreck thinking about what it was going to be like. I thrive on routine and since having my third baby, that has been limited and I’ve been learning how to navigate things with a more go with the flow attitude. Then COVID-19 happened and I realized through not leaving the house, I really needed to reinstate structure. I wasn’t making the kids get dressed for a bit when we first started staying home but then I realized that we needed to start doing that again. Change your clothes or at least your underwear.  😄

I reached out to some friends of mine when I started to homeschool and asked them for prayer. I had no idea how I was going to manage 3 kids at home 24/7. There’s the baby that recently started army crawling with quick determination. Then my three-year-old daughter wants to do everything her big brother is doing and play games with me one-on-one. Not to mention a kindergartner that is supposed to be learning something everyday and turning it in.

The first day was tough. That was already a few weeks ago now but I remember feeling stressed, short on patience, and overwhelmed. I knew it wasn’t going well when my daughter asked me, “Mommy, can you pretend to be mad at me over my school work like with my brother?”.🤯😟😬 (Kids are brutally honest.) I vowed from that moment to lighten up! Was my son having a tough time? Yes but two weeks prior he was looking forward to being taught by his teacher and seeing his friends instead of having extended time at home playing school with his mother. Plus the kid is five. He can already read well and understands basic math. My husband taught him some multiplication at breakfast one day for fun. That’s all fine and dandy but he is still a 5-year-old that would rather be playing Lego or Minecraft instead of doing worksheets. I mean what 5 or 6 years old wouldn’t take playtime instead of organized learning.

We got through the first day and all of the work got completed. I realized that I didn’t need to be so tough and a lot of how things were going had to do with my negative attitude. The morning of the next day, I told my son that we were going to have fun. He even told his teacher that on their class video conference that morning.

🤣 (Side note: Video conferences for kindergartners can be hilarious. All of the kids wanting to talk all at the same or the teacher asks a specific question like what books are you reading and they completely ignore it and talk about their favorite toy. The conference “etiquette” the last few weeks has gotten a bit better. The children now know how to mute themselves.)

We are currently wrapping up our third week of online learning. Last week, it was announced that school has been moved to online learning for the remainder of the school year. For us, that means the next time my son goes to school he’ll be a first-grader.😭 Early on I shed a few tears thinking about how my son would be missing kindergarten. I was planning to chaperone his next field trip since I missed the first one. He won’t get to have a kindergarten program or graduation. I was really looking forward to those things. My husband reminded me that as much as I wanted those things for my little kindergartner to him this is just life. He won’t know what he missed.

There have been some moments along the way that have been really challenging. The hardest being when I was on a video-chat with my Parents As Teachers educator and my kindergarten son came out of his room crying because he couldn’t get the camera on the iPad that he got from school to work. He was trying to connect to a video conference where the school librarian would be reading a story. Simultaneously my daughter decided it was a good time to take a ride on her 8 month-old brother. 😬 😬😬 Can you say stress? I promptly had my daughter dismount the baby and explain that we don’t ride on baby brother. I also fixed the iPad for my son and told him that if he had any problems with it to come get me.

But then there are other times that are so sweet. Like when my son is doing a math lesson on the iPad while singing about how everything is great or my oldest son and daughter are on the couch next to each other listening to a story be read together. There’ve also been times doing school work that we’ve had fun. We enjoyed doing science experiments over the last two weeks. In short, homeschooling feels like a mini rollercoaster.

Earlier this week, we received the new curriculum for the next three weeks. The workload has significantly increased. The science experiments have been traded for “thinking like a scientist” with more worksheets and the writing has been upped from two sentences last week to essentially writing a paragraph. It’s probably because what was deemed a short break has now moved into carrying the students through the rest of the year. I’m not sure how each day will turn out but I know we will get our work done and this time will pass. I do my best to stay positive and keep my attitude in check over the little things.

So to the parents out there in similar situations, look at the bright side, extra time with your kids is precious even if it wasn’t planned or conventional. I’m cutting myself some slack on this homeschooling business doing what we can and walking away at times. I’ve been thinking of how I want my kids to look back at this time, especially since my oldest will remember it. Was Mommy stressed out all the time or did she try to make things fun and was our home a place of peace? The choices that I make daily will answer that question.