Wednesday, April 8, 2020

THRIVING HOMESCHOOL DURING COVID-19



Mandie approached me with concern in her heart for you mamas, and I am honored. We both see the determination mixed with desperation, and despair you mamas have as you traverse the world of homeschooling you have been thrown into. We want to support you. We see you.

As a little bit of a background on me, here are three things: first, I have been a homeschool-mama for five years, so I’m a pro… just kidding. If I have learned anything over those five years, it’s that just like parenting, homeschooling is a roller-coaster of unknowns, trying trying and trying, and holding the precious moments close to your heart to get through the rough ones. 

Second, I strive for minimalism. To sum this up quickly, as a family of six we moved across the country with everything we own in an 8x5 trailer, and currently we are comfortably living in a 900sq ft home – full disclosure it is on five open acres which might be cheating a little. That minimalism has influenced the way I homeschool. 

And three, grandma-wise. You know that wise grandma figure in your life who you want to sit at her feet and have her bestow all her wisdom on you, but all she does is tell you she loves you and sends you to figure it out on your own? No, only me?? Well, while my mouth runs wild, I strive to be like that wise grandma for so.many.reasons. With that (possibly weird confession I just gave) in mind, I can’t give you the answer, you must find it for you. However, because I am not the wise-grandma yet and do let my mouth run, here are five basics +a short list of resources I love and what homeschooling looks like for us (in case you are interested). 


One - have a goal in mind. Personally, without a goal in mind I feel I have no direction. 

My goal of homeschooling – Independent Learning. 
I am a believer that you can learn anything at any age. I also believe in getting the laundry folded, a shower in, and some me time. The more my children can learn on their own the more time I have to do what I need/want. This can be setting out puzzles or coloring pages for a toddler/preschooler. Setting up a typing, math, or reading assignment for grade-schoolers. Also utilizing Unit Studies* which can be done individually or as a family with various ages with assignments based on each child’s level.

*Unit Studies: a unit study is simply an extensive study of one topic (or unit) and the integration of all subjects (social studies, science, language arts, math, Bible, music, art, etc.) around that topic. In our home we have a kinder doing a unit study on Ballet -- she is watching various ballet clips, learning postures, practicing proper spelling of ballet terminology, and plans to preform for our family. A simple search on Google or Pinterest will result in a plethora of ideas; my advice, let your child pick their topic, and then encourage/set the expectations (written report, poster board, performance, etc.) 

Two – routine vs schedule. Public school runs on schedule and for the masses it works great. In the home, where there are various ages, needs, text messages, and dinner to make, a strict schedule is tough. We stick to a routine; it meets our needs and allows for GRACE! 

Routine allows for waking up after getting enough sleep (you know because Disney+ kept us up late), allows you to stick with a topic/subject longer if everyone is enjoying it or quite frankly skip it for the day if it’s just not working.
Home Grown Traditions has a wonderful, free printable routine that you can edit https://homegrowntraditions.com/homeschool-routine-free-printable/




Three – a little bit every day. Right along with routine is the awareness that a little bit everyday is better than a lot one day and none for the next week because that one day took everything out of you. Not that I know from experience or anything… I do. I know. Learn from my mistake. Also, take into consideration, as a homeschool parent you are giving one-on-one learning time to your child, not something they receive often in a classroom full of children. Five minutes of math facts, two minutes of writing a silly story full or grammatical and spelling errors (that can be fixed another day) – wins!

Four – read, read, read. When all else fails, read books. Together while hiding in a blanket fort, curled up on the couch, eating all the snacks in the pantry. Alone in your rooms when separation and quiet is needed; even for littles that can’t read, looking at books with a set time. Reading exposes everyone to a vast world and has endless benefits for all ages. 

Five – minimalism. Oh.my. I thought the amount of resources available to homeschoolers five years ago was overwhelming, but now!?! Don’t get me wrong I am, as I’m sure we all are, extremely grateful for everyone banning together and offering ideas, printables, programs… but it is over.whelm.ing. 
When I first started homeschooling I stumbled upon, Great Schools Benchmarks. Greatschools.org is full of helpful information for parents wanting a great education for their children. On their website you can find what they call benchmarks – things your child should know at the end of each grade, from kinder to fifth. And honestly, it has been my North Star as I teach my children because, spoiler alert: they are short, simple, and clear. 

Resources I love-- 

Reading: 
-Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons ~$20 on amazon 

temporarily, while the physical library is closed, library apps such as overdrive and hoopla are free and have many books (and don’t discount the value of audio books, those are lifesavers when I need a little alone time with my children entertained with something other than a screen)

Math: 
            - https://allinonehomeschool.com/math-facts-practice/  (free online math games by grade)

            - xtramath.org (free website to review facts, because we all can work our math facts – tracks and encourages practice in needed areas)

Typing: 
-typing.com (free and gives progress reports)

What homeschooling looks like for us – for the curious I thought I’d throw in a breakdown of our life as a homeschool family. I am going to break this into two parts, Arizona and Washington. Because in Arizona we were a full time homeschool family for the first five years of my children’s education. Then we moved to Washington and enrolled in public school only to be thrown back into homeschooling.

Arizona: using the free printable from HomeGrown Traditions

Washington: Wake up, breakfast, clean up, a mess of them doing math fact practice, typing, flashcards (fifth grader is memorizing the fifty states, Kinder is working on phonetic sounds), unit studies, writing an assigned story topic for the week +creating illustrations for it (just silly for handwriting and spelling practice). Packing up and leaving to help with remodeling the office (because it’s shut down so might as well take advantage), where we have lunch, they finish up any work, read, and then entertain themselves (yes, with screens – specifically Minecraft and Disney+ -- judge all you want, we are all just trying to survive here). 

-Lindsay L.

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