Your Coronavirus-traumatized kids came home to you in March of 2020. You quickly learned what every homeschooling mom and dad already knew about teaching kids at home. It’s fun. It’s hard. And it’s worth it. You’re ready to homeschool permanently.
Let’s reiterate what you learned and throw in a little extra to make sure you’re ready to go live in Fall 2020. Let’s temper any unrestrained idealism. Time soothes many painful memories, and we forget. Yet true success requires us to be cognizant of our past pain and struggles, while curating ways to cope with or circumvent barriers.
Mental preparation is key.
So, for those who know, those who have forgotten, and those who want to know, when you homeschool:
Your house might be a mess.
For years on end. And you have to be nice about it. And actually be the one who disburses the tools of domestic destruction: paint, Play-doh, water, markers, pens. . .?
Your eating and exercise habits might change.
Math steps and mental hula hooping don’t count as physical exercise. Kids are always hungry, so 3-5 times a day—YOU journey on the kitchen cupboard quest to turn out food for your scholars. When it’s all said and done, you might be a little heavier than you want.
Your kiddos might not accept you as “Teacher Mom” at first.
“You are NOT my teacher.” Teacher. Mom. Mom. Teacher. What’s the difference? Is there a certain look I put on when I homeschool? I don’t know. As I was beginning to homeschool eleven years ago, I clung to a nugget of information from a dad of a homeschooling family I admired: “Homeschooling was hard for my wife until the kids figured out she was their teacher.”
There IS a point at which kids transition into see you as teacher-mom versus mom-mom. Don’t despair if it didn’t happen during Coronavirus.
Learning might not happen linearly—and in fact will stall completely at times.
You might have watched learning at home during Coronavirus and wondered how learning happens at all for anyone. Never mind. It does. And I promise you, it is not linear.
You might never be alone again.
I am never alone. And I like to be alone. Coronavirus togetherness was like homeschooling togetherness on anabolic, high-dose steroids, and homeschooling isn’t as bad as that. But homeschooling togetherness is still a challenge for those who need silence and alone-time to recharge. Know thyself and prepare! (Note: Out of all the challenges on this list, this one affects me the most.)
The phone ruins school. (No “might” on this one. The phone ruins school.)
Do you think a wall phone with an answering machine would destroy as many productive opportunities as our cell phones?
You might feel overextended teaching different grade levels.
It’s hard teaching different levels. There are curriculums (curricula, if you prefer) that suggest teaching different grade levels certain classes at the same time, like history. Never worked too well for me.
You might sit a lot next to your child, pointing and redirecting and wondering why your pointer finger is so magical.
Case in point: I’m sitting there watching my daughter do her 30 math problems, most of which she knows how to do. But I have to sit there and make sure she doesn’t get lost in the world between problems. Between 12 and 13 she’s in Harry Potter World. Between 14-15 she’s having a sleepover with her best friend. Between 24-25 she’s in Lego Land. My magical pointing wand (right index finger) keeps her tethered to math.
Schoolwork for many kids is simply a portal to another world. They need your “magic pointing finger” to draw them back.
(During the beginning of Coronavirus homeschooling, a friend asked me for some advice on her freshman boy who was starting his biology in the morning and was still doing it at 10 o’clock at night. I told her to sit next to him, constantly keeping him moving forward to what needed read and done. I know she thought he was old enough to know better than to squander time and felt any person with average intelligence and motivation should be motivated enough to stay on track. But sitting beside him did help.)
Sit down and prepare to be bored as a parent while your kid works. They eventually transition to not needing and wanting you there.
Your books and methods often might NOT WORK!
Any experienced homeschool mom will tell you that about five back-up plans are needed to arrive at the learning destination. One way, one rigid method = tears and unhappiness.
Your school might not look like school.
Homeschooling does not look like school at home. You might start that way, but it generally expands to something beautifully different.
You might lose your temper and express frustration poorly.
It happens. I venture to say to all of us. Apologize. Investigate ways to get to the root of the problem. Regroup. Find your fear and anxiety. (Are you afraid your kid is lazy? Are you afraid they one day won’t hold a job? Are you worried you didn’t teach something well? Are you scared they might have a learning disorder or low IQ? Are you afraid you can’t juggle all if they take this much time every day?) Then use your words to help your child understand your concern. Or maybe you’ll see your concern is catastrophizing and overreacting and apologize more.
You might fight technology battles.
I know this is a hard one. We directly see physical activity and affability go up when we remove technology in our home. It’s worth removing. But then there’s that alone time, messy house, new method to research to help with reading. . . But regulating technology is worth it.
That’s it! Have a wonderful day. It’s a hard time to keep grounded inside ourselves. I feel like everything “out there” wants to polarize my emotion and your emotion. We are stressed by happenings in the world. If you can help it, don’t be polarized. Explore the middle ground. And feel free to ask my experience with homeschooling four.
May 28, 2020