Are you homeschooling this year? I have always questioned why anyone would want to homeschool their kids. I even told one of my clients that I was amazed at how she homeschooled her kids, wondering how she does it, right before we knew about this virus lockdown!
And then the lockdown hit the very next week… Our kids were home for 6 months after spring break, trying to work from home. We all melted working alongside each other sitting in the living room with the TV on in the background while processing all the daily changes and lockdowns. It was soooo hard!
But as schools were starting to open up, I found myself not being able to wrap my head around the busy school schedule. I had gotten used to not setting my alarm for the 7am wake up and rush out the door routine (I have had this school schedule since our oldest started kindergarten 15 years ago! And yes I do realize many people work with this schedule for years as well.).
So, without the promise of things not being shut down again, we decided last min to try homeschooling. It turns out it was the best decision for us as a family! I do understand this is not for everyone, as many of my mom friends have been so thankful to get their busy littles back in school and are loving the routine again. Especially those that rely on sending their kids to school to be able to go to work.
No matter what your family decides to do for this uncertain season, I thought I would share the homeschooling tips we have discovered work well for us. There are many of us thrown into this new routine, so it helps to share what works and what doesn’t. I would love to hear if you have any ideas too! Please drop your thoughts in the comments below, or message me with your tips and tricks for homeschooling your kiddos.
This is how we are homeschooling our teenagers this year
- Create a separate homeschool space- Last spring trying to work in the living room together with the tv on in the background, didn’t work too well for us. So, my middle daughter suggested we make a separate schoolroom. She got so excited to make it fun, inspirational, and cozy. This was a great idea! By tucking ourselves away, we are able to focus much better. This also helps to keep things a little more organized and gives a quiet workspace for our kids to do their assignments. We can close the door at the end of the day and not think about school anymore for the rest of the day.
- Google docs- Wow! Suggested by my son in grade 9, as this was the platform they used to do all of their assignments in their previous school. So, we made a Homeschool file. In it includes a file for each subject. This way everything stays organized. I can post their assignment to that subject file and make adjustments immediately that can be seen by all if something doesn’t make sense. It makes it easy for marking and making notes. It also offers flexibility to always have the assignment handy if one of us is not home. It keeps everything saved and in one easy to find location.
- Get connected with an online school- Our online school offers many different options as far as distance learning. We can choose to do online classes with teachers teaching them, or on our own time with our own curriculum. They offer a collection of support tools and staff, online books, and resources. They help us get started and keep us accountable.
- Incorporate multiple classes– We love this option! Instead of having assignments for each class, why not narrow down the time spent on homework and incorporate a few subjects together? We weave scripture into whatever they are learning. We can even bring socials, art, and English together into one assignment!
- Life skills- With less homework and pressure, our kids are able to have other jobs. This way they learn valuable life and money skills. They can also learn just by doing everyday things such as baking or cooking while incorporating the science of it together. Younger kids learn through play, so getting creative is very important.
- Flexibility- we are not tied to a regular school schedule giving us more flexibility to do more things such as see friends and family, travel (when we are allowed to again), play outside, work…
- Adjust based on how your kid learns- So much of what kids learn in school is a broad way of teaching to meet many different kids all at once. But unfortunately, not all kids learn the same way. Homeschooling gives the flexibility to be able to adjust and speak to our kids in a way they understand and personally learn. Our older kids can help pour into the younger ones, as teaching can be one of the best ways to learn! It helps solidify what you have learned and makes you have to understand it to be able to teach it. This also gives the ability to adjust what they are learning based on your personal beliefs. Our schools may teach things to our kids that we may not necessarily agree with, so this way we are able to weave in what we feel is important for our kids to learn.
- Order curriculum books- We found this to be a great site to find good resources to teach our kids with https://www.christianbook.com/ . One of my favorites is this English book series Writing Strands which incorporates scripture into the learning here and there. It’s been such a simple and fun way for me to learn better writing skills too (let’s hope lol!)!
- Take breaks- I cannot stress this enough. We have a bit of a routine, but we make sure we take an hour off for lunch and then back at it for another hour or two. There is typically no homework (the fun of homeschool) keeping the afternoon open to go play outside and get creative. If something fun comes up, or we need to go to work, we have the flexibility to do this. If our kids are melting one day, we just keep it simple, fun, and adjust as needed. Or we take a break and come back to it in a little while. Stay flexible and adjust as needed so it remains fun.
- Schedule-We start at 10am roughly every morning. Having a start time and a bit of a schedule helps us keep us motivated, but also gives us some room to play. I have created a rough weekly schedule so we make sure we get through all the subjects needed each week. We adjust these subjects as needed, but it helps give us some organization and a bit of a guideline to follow. We take holidays, weekends and evenings off. A schedule helps keep us accountable, focused, and everyone knows what to expect so we see fewer meltdowns as everyone knows what is expected of them.
A few additional thoughts about homeschooling your kids...
If you are teaching multiple kids, I have heard https://gatherroundhomeschool.com/ is really good for teaching all age levels at one time. The idea is you gather around the table all together as you teach all ages the same thing. You would just adjust expectations depending on the age group and learning levels, keeping it simpler for you if you have multiple kids to teach at once. And everyone can help teach each other.
Older kids can work longer on one subject typically. It can be difficult to jump from one thing to the next, so we keep to 2 subjects per day in grade nine and only once a week for each subject.
Younger kids may need more variety as their attention span isn’t quite there… so keep it quick, lot’s of variety with only a small amount of time per subject per day, and interesting with lots of play. Make it fun and enjoyable for all. Take off the pressure. You are all learning together!
Our school room
Because our daughter suggested a separate schoolroom, which was a great idea! We decided to make one of our spare bedrooms into our schoolroom. We decorated it with twinkle lights, homemade artwork on the walls and found a second desk on a local buy and sell site so everyone had their own work space.
We kept the bed in there to be able to curl up and get comfy as we worked.
We start our day with devotionals and then move on to our couple of subjects for the day. At the end of the day, we close the door so we can separate our work from our play and rest time.
We have a shelf that holds all our pens and workbooks to easily grab as needed. We also have a music speaker in the room so we can turn on the tunes to help us stay focused.
So there you have it. I am not a professional at this… it’s our first year. But I did do a lot of research on this as we got started, so I share our experience with you just in case you are needing some ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I do find it a struggle to balance work, home life, and teaching most days.
It’s a challenge some days and I find I need to tuck away in the evenings just to be able to catch up on my own work uninterrupted. I am terrible at marking my son’s work. And I find I do need to carve out some quiet time just to reset from the busy.
But I love this time with my son and it’s been totally worth it! My daughter is pretty self-sufficient in grade 12 this year which helps, and am finding the flexibility of homeschooling really lovely. I am still able to leave my son to work independently if I need to be on the road for work, and my older daughters do help teach him in the subjects I am not so great at.
Anyways, hopefully, that helps inspire you as you homeschool or consider homeschooling your kiddos. And again, please drop your suggestions below so we can all learn together so as to all come alongside each other in raising our beautiful babies.
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