| By Stephanie Baroni, Marketing Director, K‒12 |
Last fall, my husband and I were unexpectedly thrust into homeschooling our second-grade daughter. Neither of us are teachers. Both of us have to work. Combine that with the fact that she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, and you could say we were a little stressed.
Little did we know we were being prepared for far more than a semester of homeschool. Now that we find ourselves in a similar situation, along with family members and friends, I thought I would share my top 10 tips:
- Don’t do everything at once. Take evenings and the weekend to do some research, gather materials from around your house, and get organized. I progressed from being one day to one week, then one month ahead after I had our routine down. What if you can only stay one day ahead at a time? At the end of the day, that’s all you really need—and that’s okay.
- Get curriculum. You’re likely getting guidance from your teacher or district curriculum teams already, and a wealth of resources are being made free online. If you want to dig deeper, you can learn which subjects are encouraged in your state at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. You can also purchase discounted workbooks from providers—I used Evan-Moor . I even purchased materials at retailers like the local dollar store.
- Keep records. Have your child write their name and the date on everything, including books.
- Have a schedule and routine that works for you. Kids thrive on routine. Though many experts recommend sticking to your child’s school schedule as much as possible, that can be challenging when your family’s schedule goes out the window. I recommend creating a routine that works for your family. For example, do school in the morning, then again at night—or have two full days on the weekend.
- Do challenging subjects when your child is alert, then reward them with easier ones. My daughter is most alert in the morning, so each day starts with journaling and math. Then, gym and science are her rewards. She gets a brain break after lunch. Then we get her back into the groove with spelling and writing since they’re easier for her. End-of-day activities include geography, social studies, religion, or art.
- You don’t have to teach as long as you may think. Your child will be getting 1:1 instruction and won’t have to transition for activities or wait for other kids. Although we had a weekly routine, we only spent 2‒3 hours per day on instruction and took one morning and afternoon off per week.
- Make learning fun! Call on stuffed animals to participate. Invite your pet to read. Make up songs to help them remember literacy and spelling. Incorporate math into baking. Do a scavenger hunt.
- Don’t do it alone. My teacher friends helped me source curriculum. Gale provided supplemental materials through Kids InfoBits, which now has open access for COVID-19 support. My mom helped me organize our curriculum, records, and makeshift school (a.k.a. Unicorn School!). My husband taught math and science. Our parents taught geography, social studies, religion, and art. I taught reading and writing.
- Take care of yourself. To say my husband and I were overwhelmed is an understatement. I vividly remember sitting in my doctor’s office saying, “I’m trying not to break.” I flexed my schedule and incorporated tools like mindfulness, therapy, medication, church, and journaling into my routine. I also scheduled 15-to-30-minute “me time” to read a book or go on a walk a few days a week. I’m still working on the exercise part!
- Enjoy the time you have. Even though you might be stressed, try to remember to enjoy the time you have. Hold onto the little things. Remember, you might not get the opportunity to spend this much time with your child again. Plus, it’ll help you be a better advocate for them when they return to school!
Like I said, I’m not a teacher. And I constantly questioned if I was failing my daughter. However, when she started her new school, we learned she’s reading above grade level and on track with other subjects. There’s hope—and help—for you too!