School is out. 3 months too soon. Parents across the country are seeing the looks of delight, uncertainty, relief, and boredom in their kids’ faces as they have the next few weeks off. You look forward to sleeping in, and not dealing with homework.
You’ve always thought of what it would be like to homeschool. You think of homeschoolers as ‘those happy families’, where their children sit and work quietly around the kitchen table. Hey, you think, we could probably do that!
You’re thinking now is your chance. The school district has actually told you to keep your kids home from school, until further notice. You are ready to roll up your sleeves and sharpen some pencils.
Well, yes, you actually can do this! And no, we are not ‘those’ families.
Homeschoolers across the country are now actually facing the thought of having to be ‘home’. All of our outside activities – museums, zoos, field trips, classes are being closed and shut down. We are stuck inside our house, looking around at each other. Probably dusting off the curriculum we bought back in September. Libraries are now closing and I can hear the collective sigh from homeschooling parents everywhere.
So, we welcome you, the curious parent, to look into our homeschools. Here is a very brief insider look into what we will be doing in this time of National Stuck-in-our-Homes Emergency.
What is a typical homeschool day? This is simple. There is absolutely no ‘typical’ day. Some kids sleep late, some are up early. Some families plan morning learning with afternoons of free play time and stories. Some families school at night when parents are home from work, and have the day hours to themselves. You can watch documentaries all day, or explore nature outside. For the very organized parents, there are some posted schedules on the wall with blocks of time for pre-determined activities. Most of us though, are winging it.
How do you get your kids to sit and do work? Again, this is easy. We really don’t. Kids learn all over the place. Some parents actually use the kitchen table or a desk to encourage learning. However, most of us are doing learning wherever the kids are – bedrooms, counters, laying on the floor, picnic tables, in cars, bouncing on trampolines. And we definitely are not doing ‘school work’ all day long for hours at a time. There are usually bursts of learning at certain times, moments of discoveries, reading time, etc. We fit education into our lives, not the other way around. And as homeschoolers, our entire way of parenting is focused on ‘opportunities for learning’. A quick question can lead to an hour of discussion. Things we may have planned to learn are thrown out the window, and we end up spending the afternoon learning about spiders.
And by the way, I can guarantee most homeschooling families are now doing unit studies about the immune system, viruses, and epidemiology.
What do you teach them? Well, since homeschooling parents are not rocket scientists (well, most of us aren’t), we are actually learning right alongside with our kids. We are ‘facilitating’ their learning and providing resources for them. We help them find books on their interests, research online topics, and introduce ideas and concepts that they should probably know something about. We try to follow age/grade guidelines and we do the best we can to keep them ‘on track’. Whatever that means.
How do you get anything done around the house? Yeah, well this is THE really tough question. Look inside any of our homes and you will see, what I like to call, ‘evidence of learning’. There are usually books all over the house, day old science projects left somewhere, legos, art projects, train tracks, nerf bullets, maybe a workbook somewhere, and for sure the laundry is NOT done. We accept dishes in the sink, cluttered floors, and busy spaces all over the house. Some families are able to make doing chores a part of their routine, or there are moments when parents have a few minutes to get something done quick. But for the majority, we prioritize the act of learning above the household tasks.
Which really means, we are cleaning, washing clothes, and dusting when the kids are asleep.
So, are you ready to give this a chance? Are you ready to embrace this lifestyle? You have a few weeks to take the leap, ask questions, and figure out a rhythm. Enjoy this opportunity to try something different.
Written by Marcia Sirois 3/13/2020.