I debated on if I should do this post or not, but seeing as how my phone has been blowing up I decided it was necessary to chat about how we homeschool. When I made the decision to start homeschooling six years ago I had months to prepare. My son called and said that his school had installed security bars overnight…..the parents were never notified.
I had months to sift through the curriculum. I attended fairs and information sessions for Classical Conversations. I spent hours reading online blogs and homeschool blogs, only to feel completely unprepared for the road that would lay ahead.
I say all of that to say; even with a ton of information, I wasn’t prepared to homeschool! The entire United States is now having to homeschool. No warnings, no preparation. One of the biggest things I see is that parents are trying to emulate “school at home” that my friends is not the same as homeschool.
Understanding the basics
School-at-home: would be considered trying to do what your child’s teacher did in the classroom but at home. Newsflash You are not that teacher! More than likely you’ll feel compelled to have the kids on this super strict schedule and attempt to keep up with it. Your kid probably kicks and screams and has an attitude. Want to know why?
At school, your child can talk to friends, walk to their lockers between class, take unnecessary bathroom breaks, hang with friends at lunch, etc. Your child has not actually sat in a classroom for 6-7 hours non stop. They probably only do 4-5 hours of work total per day…
Homeschool: during this phase of our journey we didn’t stick to the schedule. The schedule was posted but without times. We just knew XY and Z needed to be completed within an 18-24 hour time frame. We still used online curriculum aids, audiobooks, worksheets, and youtube videos. We took virtual field trips and my children learned the value of learning. True LEARNING! Not this memorize this information for the test and spit it back out on paper not to recall it for the final exam type of “learning.” That’s simply just memorization.
Unschool changed my life. This is the hardest thing for parents to wrap their minds around because we were raised going to “school.” The concept of children will learn organically is so foreign to most people. We got rid of the curriculum. Our virtual field trips became actual field trips. I let my kids pick what they wanted to learn.
How are my kids handling homeschool?
My son focused a lot of energy on reading about the history of Broadway and the big band era. He even started a blog all about musical theatre. He studied the black panther movement. He became obsessed with reading inspirational books by African American Male authors. Super specific things that would later be the catalyst for him being the Youngest TEDxBroadway speaker in history (to date). I invite you to watch his talk The Intersectionality of Black Boys and Shakespeare.
My daughter took a very different approach. She’s not a big reader or so I thought. I soon learned that while she is an auditory learner she prefers reading nonfiction on her cell phone! Her imagination is incredible and she LOVES animals. All of her energy has been focused on animals. She was recently selected out of hundreds of applicants to join the Zoo Atlanta’s Volunteen program for 2020-2021!
Tips to Make it Through
- At the end of the day, did everyone survive? (Seriously! It doesn’t matter that your house is a mess, dinner wasn’t done the way you thought, the kids are rowdy, you’re exhausted. Did. You. Survive.?)
- Immediately have your kids take a learning style test! Younger grades you can do the Scholastic learning style test. For older kids, I prefer What’s your Learning Style, this assessment they can take themselves.
- Make learning fun! Pinterest is your friend guys! Instead of trying to google everything, spend some time using the search tool on pinterest for fun ways to help your kids learn after you know their learning styles.
- Introduce Home Economics! Your children need to know how to cook, clean, mop, dust, balance a budget, etc. KhanAcademy has a ton of free resources to aid in this area. My son is currently finishing up a personal finance course. Can you imagine if we had that in school?
- Do math in the kitchen! Now here is where this blog will begin to be very useful for you! Kids love to cook. You can teach fractions, properties of weight and volume, and tons of science experiments in the kitchen!
- Play audiobooks in the background. Don’t feel like reading to the kids? No problem! Let them get comfy with their favorite stuffed animal or doll baby (no electronics) and listen to storytime as a family. Bonus Tip: get your kids used to the routine of listening to storytime so that taking calls at home while working will become less of a hassle.
- Play your favorite music from when you were your kid’s age when cleaning or cooking! This allows for bonding with your children. It will also expand their tastes in music and open up a conversation for parents and kids in the kitchen.
- Learn to say I’m sorry. Before we went the homeschool/unschool route I don’t remember ever apologizing to my children. But THIS was different. I had no idea what I was doing and there is no rule book only suggestions. You need to learn to apologize to your children if you don’t get something right. This teaches them the value of being able to accept when they are wrong. They will spend less time living in their ego. And they will respect you more as a parent for giving them the opportunity to forgive you in the process.
- Cancel School for the Day. Listen somedays it just won’t work. This teaches you and your children the value of self-love and self-care. If this crisis hasn’t taught me anything else, it’s taught me the value of human capital and how most companies don’t put much value into their employees.
- Give YOURSELF Grace. This was big for me. Giving myself the grace to accept I am my children’s mother. The person that carried them over nine months, kissed all their fears away and hugged away their hurts. I am the person that has been their advocate and biggest cheerleader then entire lives and this time together will help me sharpen those skills. You have the unique pleasure of giving your children something equally as beautiful as giving them life. You now get to help them learn to LOVE learning. Teachers wish they could give every child the attention he or she needs and now you have the unique opportunity to love on your own babies in a way no one else can nor ever will.
Be gentle with yourselves my friends! We will get through this. Be sure to join me over in my Facebook group Bake With Me for live baking classes and community conversations.