I’m back with some encouragement for you on this unexpected homeschooling journey. (Check out part one here!) I hope one or two ideas help smooth out your school day! You’ve got this.
Avoid Frustration and Manage Expectations
Despite this big change for your family, you can cast a beautiful vision for them of what short-term homeschooling can be. By clearly communicating your expectations, you’ll avoid frustrating your kids.
You’re adjusting, not failing
The first week is a learning curve for your kids when it comes to seeing you as both parent and teacher. They may push back against the change and be more difficult for you than they would be for an outside teacher (I know mine did). During this time, remember that you are not failing; everyone is simply adjusting. It doesn’t take long for kids to adapt. In the meantime, keep being confident, calm, and kind.
Let them know what you have planned
My kids are more motivated when I let them know what we plan to do that day, especially when there are fun activities mixed into the routine. A simple checklist for the day works great– just don’t overload it!
Offer options for early finishers
Have a short list of learning-related activities that your child can do when they finish an assignment early and are waiting for the next lesson (such as an independent math game, doing a puzzle, or coloring). Older children may be able to simply move onto their next assignment.
Since we are in a small group setting, it’s tempting for your kids to bombard you with questions and comments while you’re trying to work with another sibling. To prevent interruptions, I encourage my kids to circle a problem they are struggling with and move onto the next problem they can do. That way, they can return to it when you are available to answer their question.
For younger children, you may simply want to have them play nearby until you are ready to give them your undivided attention.
How to Hit Reset on a Rough School Day
Bad attitudes. Overtiredness. Big emotions. Some days, as a parent, you can just tell when the emotional climate of your school day is going to be a challenge. In those moments, take a moment to hit pause and assess what will be most helpful.
State the obvious
Instead of ignoring what’s going on, tell your kids, “Hey guys, I can tell that we’re all a little frustrated this morning. What’s something we can do to turn this day around?”
Praise what you can
When you’re tempted to be frustrated with bad attitudes, instead choose to praise what has been good. “Look at that incredible handwriting! I’ve never seen the word ‘cat’ written so beautifully!” A little encouragement goes a long way!
Take a break or shorten the lesson
“I can tell these math problems are challenging. Let’s take a 10-minute break, and then see if we can work together to finish five more problems.”
Offer your help
Older children who can complete work independently can still struggle with roadblocks – whether it’s a difficult new concept or a grumpy attitude. The most powerful thing I’ve learned to do is simply come alongside that child and gently ask, “How can I help?”
Drop everything and read
Never underestimate the value of simply reading aloud to reset your day for children of all ages. Reading aloud helps increase vocabulary, strengthens understanding and attention span, and promotes bonding as a family.
Go for a walk
Fresh air and physical exercise are the perfect remedies for a hard school day.
Yes, It’s Really Okay to…
Have a shorter school day
Doing school at home takes surprisingly less time than you’d think. That’s because you’re working one-on-one and have fewer transitions. It’s okay if you’re done with the schoolwork by lunchtime (or earlier depending on their age).
Do fewer problems
If your child demonstrates that they understand a concept well, it’s okay to reduce the number of problems or exercises you have them complete or move onto the next lesson.
Forget the worksheet
Act out a story instead of writing a book report, play a card game to practice math facts, or go on a phonics scavenger hunt – there are so many opportunities for active learning.
Take a day off
In our family, we typically operate on a four day school week, with our fifth day set aside for field trips, our homeschool co-op, errands, or time with friends. While we may not be able to do those things currently, having one flexible weekday has been refreshing for both the kids and me.
I hope this helps you feel more encouraged to keep going on this “home school” journey!
Have a specific question? Comment here or on social media and I’ll do my best to help.
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