You haven’t been remote working and you haven’t been homeschooling since Covid-19 broke out. What you have been doing is trying to work from home in a crisis and trying to help your kids finish the school year (or start an new one) at home with no time to prepare. What we have been doing the past few months is as close to Remote work and homeschooling as getting washed up on a desert island after the boat had sunk is to going on an island vacation. There was no plan, no structure, no real support and no idea when you would be rescued or how that would happen.
You haven’t failed
Let’s start with the simple truth, no matter how bad last spring was for your kids you haven’t failed. But this situation has been so hard on so many kids. They are missing their friends, activities, milestones – life. And they are stuck at home trying to follow lesson plans and do zoom meetings in a vacuum. And it is so hard.
One of the boogie-men that homeschoolers are often confronted with is “What about socialization?” frequently asked in random grocery store check-out lanes from probably well-meaning strangers, accompanied by a smile that confirms they have played the ultimate “gotcha” card. But now this is actually a real question. Even veteran homeschoolers have had a hard time. We are used to play dates, field trips, enrichment classes and dances. Summer camp and team sports have been cancelled. Socialization is suddenly a real concern.
This might not be over yet. The first school to reopen this year had to worry about infect students after the very first day. This doesn’t bode well for us being able to go back to any semblance of normal anytime soon. Families who have shifted their plans to homeschool in the fall are actually in a better place at this point than families that are waiting for the schools to figure out what is happening. (this goes for businesses too)
5 things you can do to make this fall better
- Shift your mindset to homeschool mindset – Remember that you, as the parent, are the one responsible for educating your children. The school is there as a resource to help you. No matter what the school does or doesn’t do you are the one who has the God given responsibility to turn out a competent adult. You know your children better than the school – don’t be afraid to push back.
- Plan to get out of the house every week – go on walks or hikes, build a tree-house, take up bird watching, do a neighborhood clean-up .. but get out of the house.
- Don’t let the school burn your kid out – Schools are notorious for time boxed learning that is actually massively inefficient. In a classroom so much time is spent transitioning 20 or more children from one lesson or activity to another. There are discussions, reading out loud, handing out papers, logging into apps or finding the correct website all set at the pace of the slowest.
In some cases teachers have been replacing 8 hours a day of “school time” with 8 hours of busy work. The kids would never have been expected to do all this work if they were in a classroom. One of the most common surprises to new homeschoolers is how little time it actually takes to get through a good amount of school work. Make sure that your children aren’t getting overloaded by classroom teachers who have no experience in remote learning.
- Make sure that your kids have friend time – even with social distancing you can find ways to get together with friends. Even the most introverted need social connection sometimes. Arrange a picnic, a bike ride, a couple of friends over.
- Keep a schedule Have a time to get up, set times for school work, time for play. Create rituals – baked cookies on Wednesday, make Friday Divine Mercy day, and Sunday afternoon family game time. Don’t let one day just bleed into the next until time becomes one mind numbing mass.
With prayer and love our families will navigate moving forward.