You’re suddenly a homeschooler.
Shoot, that wasn’t the plan, was it?
I’m hearing you, mama. Even having homeschooled our son for the last two years, this is uncharted territory. Everything is turned upside down and inside out, and oh-so-very-quiet. No more buses or frequent cars going by or kids laughing and playing in groups. It all feels surreal.
This isn’t homeschooling, this is corona-schooling.
Because so much has changed in a week. For homeschoolers, being out in the world is where our kids learn. In this new normal, we can’t visit our local museum, science world, baseball diamond or maybe even our local hiking trails soon! It seems as though one public space after another is being closed down.
But, even in the midst of all that, there’s always an upside.
There’s always a positive to find.
And as unschoolers, worldschoolers or corona-schoolers, the great news is that there are new resources that weren’t available a couple of weeks ago. The outpouring of generosity and creativity from artists, entrepreneurs and teachers has been incredible and I’d love to share what I’ve found with you here.
One caveat though, before we go on.
The idea of homeschooling – at least my idea of homeschooling – isn’t to replicate the classroom in the home.
You don’t need to suddenly learn fourth-grade math. You don’t need to set up a science laboratory in your kitchen (although it can be a lot of fun!). You don’t need to stand over your kids and make them fill in worksheets.
“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.” John Holt
Your home needs to remain just that; home.
Home is where we feel safe, loved, secure, understood and seen. Don’t compromise that. Leave the fear that your kids will “fall behind” at the door.
Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn and self-directed learning expert, reassures us that, “Really, truly, very little is learned in a few months of school that is remembered over time. There is even evidence that the skills schools are most concerned about—literacy and numeracy skills—are actually more deeply learned in out-of-school activities than in school. Despite popular concern about the so-called “summer slide” in academic skills, research indicates that reading ability and mathematical reasoning skills may actually improve more rapidly during summer vacation from school than during school months. When children are reading for fun or solving real-world problems that involve math, they acquire these skills more deeply, in ways that make sense and are remembered, than when they are doing them as school assignments”
So, don’t attempt to recreate school. Create something new. Think outside the box.
Don’t look at yourself as your child’s teacher. You’re a guide, a facilitator, a cheerleader. Keep your child’s innate curiosity alive, so that they naturally want to learn.
Education isn’t about doing to our kids – it’s not about information transfer. It’s about problem-solving, it’s about bouncing back and developing resilience, it’s about the ability to research and dive deep into a passion (for weeks or months or years, as with my son’s passion for palaeontology).
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats
In the school system, we’re conditioned to believe that children need to fit the education system, but now the tables are turned and the wonderful thing about homeschooling is that you can curate the education to fit your child.
So, take your time with it. Don’t rush in. Allow for a period to adjust to this new normal. Let your kids play. Prioritise rhythm over routine.
Your job is not to entertain them around the clock. They may experience or express boredom. This is natural. As tempting as it is to reach for a screen as a quick solution, lean into your own discomfort. Wait it out 5 to 10 minutes and patiently allow them to tap into their own creativity and begin playing. Their feeling of “boredom” will lessen over time as they develop the muscle and cultivate the mindset to explore their own options. This alone is an important element of their growth and development.
You can also feel reassured that not all of the 6-7 hours your child spends at school each day is spent on the curriculum. You may be shocked to learn just how little time is actually spent on academic learning! If you’d like to see the numbers (which I find fascinating) read more here.
During this time of uncertainty, remain conscious that your emotions are contagious so it’s important that you’re remembering to take care of yourself too. (Don’t worry, another post will follow this with ideas for mums during this time!) Simply prioritise the emotional health of your family over any formal learning.
Ok…now for the fun part! I’ve compiled 14 pages worth of ideas for online learning, quiet time, hands-on learning, creative activities, exploration, movement, and of course, a bit of screen time.
Consider this your ultimate resource for navigating the quarantine with kids at home. By signing up in the orange box below to receive the guide in your inbox, you can download it, print it out, and get the whole family involved. Additionally, I’ll keep dropping new ideas into your inbox and updating the guide as my own family continues to do and discover new things.