Make the Best of Homeschooling

If the headline caught your eye, it’s likely you or someone you know has been plunged into homeschooling because their normal school situation abruptly came to a screeching halt. What a stressful and bizarre time we are living in! Each one of us is faced with things we never could have imagined or anticipated. I suppose we are just going to have to make the best of it — lemonade out of lemons, so-to-speak. Well, that’s not as easy as it sounds, and you know it! Besides being anxious about possibly losing income and the fear of catching the Covid-19 virus, now you have the responsibility of teaching your children, keeping them fed and entertained, and let’s face it, trying to keep some semblance of peace. 

I hope that I can offer you some encouragement and helpful tips. I homeschooled my four children every day for 23 years. But you have it harder!

You may have fewer children and not intend to homeschool for even four months. But I started with one three-year-old and gradually worked my way into it. On the other hand, you probably had no more than a weekend to prepare for this change in lifestyle! 

You may be working from home, juggling housework, cooking, serving meals, and trying to keep enough food in the house for extra people who aren’t usually home all day. Not to mention the extra emotional trauma and drama of each of them, and you included! 

That is why the first thing I want to encourage you to do is have LOTS of grace — for the children and yourself! It’s a hard time for everyone. You’re all having to adjust the best you can. It’s helpful to know that the beginning of next school year will be a lot of review from the end of this one. It’s highly unlikely that you will ruin their education in these weeks. So don’t freak out! 

Although you shouldn’t expect perfection, there are some practical ways to make this experience the best it can be. Here are some ideas:

•Set up a routine. It doesn’t have to be super regimented, but I found that my children worked better on a schedule. They got along better when they kept busy. I actually wrote it out on a poster and put it where it could be seen. It was like magic, because I wasn’t the bad guy when it was time to do the next thing. It’s what the schedule said! 

•Read aloud. I suggest classics like the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, historical fiction by G.A. Henty, or the side-splitting comedy John Erickson series, Hank the Cowdog. While you read, you might want to put baskets of clean laundry in front of them so they’ll fold clothes. Sometimes I read from their history books or assigned literature. Fidgety kids? Give them crayons and a coloring book to keep them occupied but still listening. 

•Teach life skills. Take this opportunity to teach them things that will take some of the load off you. They can learn to wash clothes, bathe the dog, water plants. Have each child take turns with you in the kitchen. Eventually, hand off some of the cooking, once they get the hang of it. Even young children can learn to make sandwiches. 

•Give them chores! Schedule them into everyday. Kids love a squirt bottle with a little soapy water and a rag, a feather duster and a Swiffer!  

•Set a stopping time. Homeschooling doesn’t take as long as in a classroom setting. It’s motivating to know they only have to work on school until lunch time if they really get after it.

•Lastly, my friend, Linda Clark, who homeschooled for 27 years, said her children appreciated having alone time. She scheduled naps for the littles after lunch and alone time for older children. They knew they’d have time apart from everyone to read or play quietly, and mom wouldn’t ask them to do anything. It was peaceful for everyone.  

You have the opportunity to see this unexpected time with your children as a gift. They will likely remember this unusual event in history. If you choose to see it as a blessing and make the best of it, they may have good memories of homeschooling. Smile at them, laugh with them, play games, enjoy it.  Perhaps you’ll come away with good memories too!

Gail Lloyd has lived in Central for 20 years and is a full-time artist. She and her husband Jim served as President of Christian Home Educators Fellowship of Baton Rouge for two years, and were active members for 23. Gail and Jim homeschooled their four children. To their pride and relief, they are all functioning, civilized, successful adults. Jim owns Cornerstone Commercial Flooring. He was honored to serve on Central’s School Board for eight years. 

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