A calming hello to all of you, especially those with children schooling at home for the first time.
I hope this finds your households well and at least moderately sane!
Today I want to offer some words of encouragement as a long-time home educator.
I am not calling it advice, because you have probably already heard far too much of that.
What I have discovered over the years of being asked for counsel by new homeschoolers is that the main thing you need to hear is, “You’re doing fine. Your kids will be fine.”
And that is the truth. So take a deep breath, choose what’s helpful from my thoughts, discard the rest, and trust in the resilience of your children.
Five nuggets of encouragement:
#1 – You do not need to replicate school at home.
I mentioned this last week and I’ll put it at the top of the list here as well.
What you are aiming for is not school per se, not in a traditional sense.
And whatever a long-term plan might look like, you don’t need to rush to get there.
You might consider this goal: I’m going to try to keep my kids healthy and do what I can to meet their main needs.
If you made a ranked list of those needs
at the tip top would be things like love, a sense of security, food, shelter, sleep.
If you’re able to deliver that in this crazy moment – congratulations! You have accomplished the most important goal. Give yourself a gold star.
A bit farther down the list come needs like time to play, opportunity to grow in knowledge, to unleash creativity and imagination, to give of themselves to others.
Can you get any tidbits of this in? Not perfection. Not so much of this you wear yourself to a frazzle? Just some bits. Cool. You’re golden.
Way, way down the list are things like completing spelling pages and memorizing the 7-times table.
Can’t seem to get these things checked off the list? No big deal.
Keep your priorities straight and recognize that there are many ways for children to grow in knowledge that don’t look at all like what happens in a classroom setting.
YOU’RE DOING FINE. YOUR KIDS WILL BE FINE.
#2 – Your relationship with your kids is more important than that work sheet.
See Item #1.
If you find yourself getting angry, impatient, knocking heads with your kid, at your wits end to know how to help with something assigned to them –
— take a complete break from it. It is not worth damaging your relationship.
Right now they need you to be their familiar and loving parent/caregiver more than they need to learn x, y, or z.
IT’S OKAY. YOUR KIDS WILL BE FINE.
#3 – There’s no need to panic over holes in your kids’ education, slow starts, or non-starts.
Are you fumbling around, juggling three different distance-ed systems, coping with cranky, housebound kids, comforting massively disappointed teens whose lives just got canceled?
Are you finding yourself extra anxious and can’t seem to pull some sort of Instagram-worthy Schoolishness together?
Do not panic about your capability as a teacher, about some floundering, or even an outright absence of any school-ish looking learning.
Every homeschooler wakes up in a cold sweat on occasion, worrying about some gaping hole in their children’s education. What you figure out after they’re grown is – THE KIDS ARE FINE.
They will have holes in their knowledge no matter their educational system. That is what the rest of life is for.
Your children’s teachers will brilliantly review and patch things up when school resumes.
Meanwhile, your children are learning a great deal about life, about muddling through challenging times, and about a heck of a lot of things unique to this situation.
#4 – Do not overwhelm yourself with internet advice, including advice from seasoned homeschoolers.
Maybe that seems ironic to say in this type of blog post but remember – this is supposed to be encouragement rather than advice ☺ Okay, this is rather advice-y sounding.
But I have noticed a great deal of well-intentioned advice from all corners floating around the internet and social media for those newly homeschooling and I’m afraid a lot of it falls into the Nit-Picky category.
Listen, you can schedule or not schedule your day however you want to, in whatever way works for you, and change it up as you see fit.
You can dub any number of things as “homeschooling” and call it a job well done.
You can feel your way through to what you and your kids need with copious grace.
Many of us homeschoolers, to be honest, can be a bit opinionated, passionate about the details, and overflowing with options and suggestions that are Way Too Much.
Do not let the advice gurus distress you! The main thing to remember is:
YOU’RE DOING FINE. YOUR KIDS WILL BE FINE.
#5 – Playing, day-dreaming, dabbling in a vast range of interests and activities, and most any non-electronic, seemingly-unproductive use of time is actually Brain Super Food.
I’m not going to go into a long explanation of this but maybe just trust your kids a bit more, trust that crazy-rich connections and growth happen when they figure things out for themselves, when they rest a bit more, when they play by themselves, when they help you with chores instead of “doing school.”
They are not being lazy, and neither are you.
If your children have been in structured environments most of their lives, they may need support, suggestions, or some participation on your part to get their self-directed juices flowing or to feel okay about spending time in those ways.
But a wise degree of hands-off freedom without any Educational Objectives is a powerful thing.
You’re doing fine and those wonderful kids of yours will be fine.
That’s it from here for today.
As I said, take what helps, discard what doesn’t.
Breathe deeply, drink some extra coffee, and reach out for the support you need.
I’ll be back later this week with some ideas for non-electronic gifts you can order online
for your own kids or maybe someone else’s crew.