Sunday, March 15, 2020

Suddenly Homeschooled!


One week life was normal.  The next week it wasn't.

Has your family recently fallen into the "suddenly homeschooled" group?  You didn't choose this.  It just happened.

A virus reared its nasty head.  Stores ran out of goods.  Schools closed.  You might have even been asked to teach your children at home for a while.  Suddenly, you homeschool.

But what does that look like?!  Where do I even begin?!

Hang in there, mama!  There are many who want to help.

You are not alone in this.

 Let that concept really sink deep and take root in your heart.

You are not alone in this.  

If there is one thing homeschool moms understand and identify with - it is the vital need for support.  They understand ups and downs on a daily basis.  They understand doubt and fear and even chaos (hmm... especially chaos).

So now that you are beginning to realize (say it with me), you are not alone in this, let's talk some homeschool "shop".

1.  Seasoned homeschool moms will tell you - community is important!  As you begin this unexpected journey - be it short or long - try searching online for homeschool communities in your area.  Reach out to them.  Chances are, you will find moms willing to help you through this.

2.  If you are unable to find or join a homeschool group - start your own!  Reach out to other "suddenly homeschooled" families and swap stories, share resources, plan a picnic, etc.  You might even make some new friends!

3.  Another option is to join an online homeschool community or to surround yourself with a few encouraging mommy bloggers.  One of my favorite online sources for encouragement and resources is www.sallyclarkson.com.  This woman understands what it feels like to raise children with a variety of needs under very trying circumstances!  I highly recommend her books and podcasts (no, I was not paid to say this).

4.  Free or inexpensive resources are readily available online and in stores:

*Teacherspayteachers.com is an awesome resource!  This is a site where teachers (or therapists, moms, etc.) create lessons, games, STEM activities, etc. and other teachers or homeschooling families purchase/download them.  There are some seriously creative people out there who have done a lot of the work for you and made it super fun as well.  Just search for what your child has been studying, and you are likely to find much to purchase or download for free.

*Starfall.com is a great place to brush up on reading, math, etc. skills for younger children.

*Fun4thebrain.com and www.reflexmath.com are good resources for math fact practice using games, etc.

*Pinterest.  Need I say more?  Search for your child's grade level or subject and prepare to be amazed by the great ideas others have come up with.

*Dollar stores.  Not only do some have an education section with short workbooks for younger elementary/kinder, they also tend to stock harder puzzle books (crosswords, Sudoko, etc.), advanced coloring books, small games, and puzzles for only....you guessed it....$1.  If you know you are only homeschooling for a week or two, these might help keep your child on his/her toes.

*Homeschool blogs online.  There are moms out there who will share both experience AND great resources with you via their blogs.  Remember - community and support!  Here are a few to get you started:
www.sallyclarkson.com
www.readaloudrevival.com
www.pambarnhill.com

Here is also a link to another blogger who lists some websites which are offering free subscriptions right now.

3.  READ, READ, READ!  I know many libraries have closed temporarily....but maybe not the private ones.  By these, I am referring to many homeschool family homes.  Yes.  We have books.  Many, many, many, many books.  It is very possible that some of these families would loan your child books while waiting for school buildings to reopen.

Also consider checking with family members and friends.  You might be surprised at the hardback/paperback treasures you uncover when you just ask.

4.  Play!  There are so many educational board games out there which secretly (or not-so-secretly) require your children to put their education to good use.  You may be surprised at what your kids learn or skills they review by just playing a great game.  You might even suggest your children design one of their own (recycle that old pizza box)!  Imagine the education-worthy potential of such an activity:  fine motor skills, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, math, language arts, writing, and the list goes on!

5.  Online schools.  There are many of these out there depending on what style or level of homeschooling or online schooling you are interested in.  This has proven to be an incredible resource for our family!  Our kids may take one or two classes online (live or self-paced) which allows me to have some time to work with a younger child or have some time to get chores done, etc.

One of our favorite online academies www.veritaspress.com offers amazing self-paced courses.  These are backed by a 90-day return policy.  The courses often present material via amusing characters and sometimes animation.  They spice things up with creative games and challenges which my children have really enjoyed.  These often seem to be the highlight of our school subjects.

DIVE into Math  offers graded self-paced learning in certain math and science subjects.  They also offer some live courses.

6.  Come up with a relaxed and simple schedule to start with (see a sample below).  It should be something which will allow your family to ease into this abrupt educational change, but one which will also provide a source of welcome structure for both your children and yourself.


A note about snacks:  consider having a box/drawer in your pantry or fridge or both which have snacks your children can choose from.  Limit the choices to one or two per snack time.  This allows children to practice responsibility and choice (after the first few times, they understand that they don't need to ask you what they are allowed to have for a snack but just head to the snack box).

7.  Consider hiring a part-time tutor.  There are many teachers who will be staying home right now who might welcome the opportunity to earn a little extra money while helping other families.

The list could go on....and on.....

But I will stop there.  Why?  Here's another tidbit of homeschool wisdom: too many choices may muddy the waters.  Instead of helping, an overload of information could cause you to feel overwhelmed once more.  I suggest starting with just some of the ideas above and moving forward from there.

If none appeal or meet your child's needs, then I would direct you back to #1 and #2.  Let the vast community of homeschool moms help!  So brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee, take a deep breath, and dive in knowing (all together now) you are not alone in this!










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