Homeschooler and ZENworks Yoga instructor Amber Campbell share’s her tips for managing while being home with your kids during this time of uncertainty.
“Ok, here’s what I’ve come up with as a homeschool mom who also has kids in public school and understands the upheaval this is.”
1. Lower your expectations, in general, of everything. You aren’t going to get as much work done as you think, and neither are your kids. This is what I told myself during normal times, and it’s especially true now.
2. Create a routine, but think more rhythm than schedule. I can talk about ours if it’s helpful but the important thing is to be flexible. (That color-coded schedule floating around was definitely not made by a homeschooler. It wouldn’t be sustainable for 99% of parents.) We do language arts in the morning and math in the afternoon, all the other stuff we play by ear, science, history, etc.
3. Journal with your kids. We always started our day journaling or free writing, and I’ve seen it mentioned that it’s especially important to journal now, as we are all living through something historic. Another great exercise is to write down what we are thankful for. My kids have Big Life Journals which focus on a growth mindset. They offer a printable version (paid) and lots of free downloads.
4. Try to get outside every day, while maintaining social distancing measures. Parents already know this but it really helps when you are with your kids 24/7. The driveway with chalk is a great break. (Do math problems or spelling words on the driveway.) You could create a nature journal, bring in a leaf and look up what tree it’s from, or take a picture of a bird and draw it. “Nature journaling” on Pinterest has a lot of great ideas too but it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Addition info on Why it’s important to avoid playgrounds
5. Create a family reading challenge. It’s still national reading month, we can extend that indefinitely. Keep a log and determine prizes. Maybe even set up a reading fort.
6. Podcasts and audiobooks! Libraries offer a lot through overdrive and there are lots of kids podcasts. We like Wow in the World and Rebel Girls podcast. I would sometimes put these on at lunch to make sure we got a little quiet time.
7. For kids older than elementary school, have them be in charge of their time. We use Trello, which is free, but you can use a paper planner or just plain notebook paper. I’m assuming that kids will be given assignments on google classroom, and this is a great time to exercise executive functioning skills. Trello is online and easy to figure out- plus it’s computer literacy and organizational skills all in one. My middle schooler starts his day with CNN 10, (student news) and then piano practice. From there he has different online classes and knows what needs to be done each week. I’m not sure what districts have planned for us yet, so your kids’ days will largely depend on that. Most likely they will have extra time on their hands-it’s a great time to start a blog, or some other fun project that they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. I know resources are limited but sometimes that constraint creates amazing results. Look up “project-based homeschooling” on Pinterest for ideas.
8. This is really cliche but, self-care. This is difficult for everyone! If you are going to be the parent doing the bulk of the childcare and educating, work it out with the other parent that you get at least an hour alone every day or at least every couple of days. If you are splitting it maybe trade off days. Mediate, read, journal, walk, do all of it if you can. It’s important.
9. I got this idea from a homeschool curriculum writer and wanted to share. She talked about how this time period is going to become a part of our kids’ “childhood story.” We are understandably stressed out and we all know this transfers to our kids. My main goal has always been (and especially now during this time) to maintain healthy relationships with my kids above all else. Everything else is secondary, including “school” or whatever their teachers assign. Families will grow closer being stuck together, and we have the opportunity for connection that will last well past this. Your kids are going to fight a lot but they will also grow closer. Every homeschooler can vouch for this! So take heart and try to add fun when you can. Bake, read funny poems, make lots of art, play games, watch movies, make music, do all the things you always wished you had time to do with them. If we’ve gained one thing, it’s time with our kids, and while we all wish it was under different circumstances, we can still look at it as a gift.