The last few weeks have been…interesting to say the least. With the closures of most school systems throughout the country due to the Coronavirus, I’ve had many people asking me for tips on homeschooling during COVID-19, guidance on where to find resources, and basically wanting to know what the heck to do with their kids for the next several weeks. I think back now to every time someone would make the comment “I don’t know how you do it….” when talking about homeschooling my girls. All I can think now is “You’re sure going to find out quickly!” 🙂
And the truth is, we started out not knowing what we were doing. We had no clue as to what was involved with homeschooling or where to start. We just knew that the public school system wasn’t working for Amelia or our family so we had to make the change and jumped right into homeschooling without a plan in place. That was over 4 years ago and we haven’t had any regrets about our decision to homeschool.
At first, it was really hard to make myself okay with the fact that homeschooling does not have to look like public schooling. I was so focused on creating a classroom at home, making sure we were following a written out schedule and very adamant about completing each and every worksheet in our curriculum. I soon realized that the beauty of homeschooling is that it isn’t anything like public schooling. We have the freedom to school when and where we want. The girls get to lead their education – when they are very interested in a topic we can pause and let them dive into it completely.
I know many families are scrambling right now, trying to figure out a plan for the next few weeks. I want to reassure you that whatever you do, it doesn’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) look like a public school day. You can definitely keep it very relaxed and casual while still achieving what you want to achieve. We like to do school on the porch when the mornings are a bit warmer. I incorporate 15 minute “recess breaks” into each hour of learning to give them a mind and body break. Sometimes they want to take their work to their bedroom and turn on some tunes. It honestly looks different each day but I think that’s one of the reasons we love it so much.
Take this opportunity to let your kids guide the conversations. Are they really into space? Do they ask a lot of questions about artists and paintings? Do they want to be a zookeeper when they grow up? These are all questions that I suggest you ask yourself or better yet, ask your kids! Make it a family activity. Take a few polls and gather some topics that everyone would be more interested in learning about. Get a starting point and work from there. Consider creating or searching for unit studies on these topics. I know for my girls that when they get to choose the topics and we focus solely on that one topic, they are 110% more engaged in the lesson. Plus, Frankie and I learn SO much along side them. I bet you’ll learn a thing or two throughout this whole experience too!
You are probably missing a lot of great opportunities in your day to day routines that could be used as “lessons” too! Here are some of the things on a regular day that we have turned into learning experiences:
- following a recipe to make pancakes (following written instructions, using measuring spoons & cups)
- making our grocery list (taking inventory of what we have on hand, calculating cost and tax, following a budget)
- checking the weather (using internet to look up the forecast, watching a youtube video on weather, learning how the radar works, plotting temperate on a graph, reading a book on weather & climate)
- spotting birds in the front yard (researching the types, watching a youtube video on birds in our area, building a homemade bird feeder)
- helping Dad in the backyard building a chicken coop (using a tape measure, finding the area of a space, calculating how many chickens per square foot)
- playing a game of cards (practice math problems, follow instructions)
These were just things during ONE day that we took and made into learning experiences for the girls. There are probably many things that you do in your normal daily routine that you don’t realize could be valuable lessons for your kids. They will also love feeling as though they are helping out and contributing so it’s a win-win. Check out our list of 25 everyday skills for kids that you can work on while at home for more ideas.
Many school districts, companies and community organizations are also sharing free and discounted resources during this time. Do a quick google or facebook search for free education material and you’ll find dozens of resources and websites for freebies for homeschooling during COVID-19. Here are a few of our favorites from the last several weeks:
- The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting a Home Safari Series on their facebook page along with activities and resources
- Learning Without Tears is offering some of their interactive resources free for 90 days. We love their Handwriting Without Tears series and you can check out the online version and pick up one of the workbooks.
- NatGeo @ Home offers videos, experiences and easy at home activities.
You can also check out our list of favorite homeschool resources & websites for more of our favorites!