Now that everyone is “quarantine schooling” (because this is not really homeschooling – homeschooling involves more social interaction than this), you may be wondering what in the world you are supposed to do with these kids. Many folks are saying don’t even bother trying to “do school.” After all, you’re not their teacher and this situation is stressful enough!
Then there are tons of memes and videos of people talking about how impossible it is to deal with their kids at home. Now they've realized how teachers should be paid more for putting up with their children every single day.
Well, I certainly can’t argue against teachers being paid more. But having been a school teacher and now a homeschooling mom, I do think we need to change our approach to this whole situation.
1) Embrace this opportunity! You now have the chance to be a parent again! If you are anything like me, before I started homeschooling most of my parenting was spent fussing at the kids to hurry up so we can move on to the next activity, whether that was going to school, going to practice, or going to bed. And it never failed they had no idea where their shoes were, which resulted in more fussing from me.
There is no effective parenting going on with that frenetic pace of life. This was one of the biggest factors that led to our decision to homeschool. However, I know not everyone can make that same choice, and God has called each family to a different dynamic as far as working vs. staying home.
Now, everything is canceled. There are no places to rush off to or activities you’re running late for. You have been gifted the opportunity to truly parent. Is it exhausting and difficult to have your kids at home with you ALL day EVERY day? Absolutely. Will you love every minute of it? Probably not. Especially if you have a child like my youngest. He challenges me at every turn. But this is what God has called you to when He blessed you with children. He charged you with doing the hard thing of raising another human being to know Him and to love Him (and to be a contributing member of society).
This child (or these children) belong to YOU, not the school, not the coach, not the dance teacher. Here is your chance to discipline and train up your child in the way they should go. Here is your chance to have a lasting impact on their behavior by being present with them in the home. No longer are you having to parent on the fly between activities, but you have all of these teachable moments while at home with them, away from the influence of their peers and pressures of the school hallways.
We have no idea how long this quarantine will last but these days can have a lasting impact on your children. So be the parent again. Discipline, teach, and nurture them. Teach them to respect and honor you. I'm including a video at the end of the post that will encourage you in that area.
2) Many parents are afraid to take on schooling because they don’t have a curriculum or school resources at home. While it is true homeschooling parents invest a lot of time and effort researching curriculum and books to find the right fit for each subject for each child, these circumstances certainly haven’t allowed parents the time to prepare like that.
But that doesn’t mean all is lost. I’ve seen so many people sharing free resources and ideas of things to do with your kids while you’re at home. There are truly so many wonderful resources available to help you do school with your kids. This is where we are blessed that Google still works.
What is even better though, if your kid has just been sent home from school, you don’t need your own curriculum. They’ve already been using a curriculum since August. Grab their textbook and start with the next section. Contact their teacher and see what you can use if they don’t have their books at home. Take some time each evening to look over a few things and plan what your child can do the next day. Is that tiring and time consuming? Absolutely! Is it worth it for your kid to still be learning during this time? Absolutely.
3) Under these circumstances, it really does not matter what curriculum or resources you use (within reason of course!). It simply matters that you use something. So don't stress over whether this worksheet or that math book is the perfect one for them. The important thing is to teach your children learning doesn't just happen inside the school building.
Besides, this is not a vacation. This is an unusual situation where the school building has been closed. But that doesn't mean their education has to stop. In many aspects, their education will be improved by this. Show them a pandemic is not an excuse to be lazy. Take an active role in knowing and understanding what your child is learning.
If that overwhelms you because your kids are in high school and are studying subjects you have long sing forgotten (or maybe never studied yourself!), challenge them by having THEM teach it to YOU. Trust me, you understand a subject in a whole new depth when you have to teach it to someone else. Then you BOTH get the education!
Teach them they can learn on their own - at all times - whether school is in session or not. It drives me crazy when students say they don’t “have” to read when they’re not in school. That is a terrible attitude toward learning! Here is an opportunity to change that perception. Instill in them a love for learning itself. Show them the joy of reading and the benefit of learning.
Though it seems school at home will be more stressful, consider that their learning time is no longer crammed between school bells and frantically rushed through between practice, dinner, and bedtime. "Quarantine school" can actually be a more relaxed environment if we approach this in the right way. Show them the joy of reading and learning something new by learning and reading alongside them.
4) Teach them learning doesn’t have to involve a screen. I know right now we’re using a lot of virtual classrooms (I’m using it to teach Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus to our homeschool group!). But that shouldn’t be the only way your kid is engaging with information.
I am glad that so many places are offering free video resources, but at the same time that aggravates me that we still have this mindset that they need to watch a video to learn something, or that education must be entertainment-like so our kids will watch it.
Turn off the TV and the videos. Give them time to free play with the closet full of toys they probably have. Make them go outside to throw rocks and sticks (maybe that's because I have only boys - and of course the outdoor play shouldn't be with other kids in order to maintain this social distancing thing). Teach them a life skill. Have them cook dinner. Get them to finally clean their room. They can become a contributing member of the household. Give them chores to do. And if they refuse, well I reference you back up to #1. Be the parent.
Read to them. Read with them. Have them read to you. Give them a book of the Bible to study and have them summarize it or act it out with a sibling.
I understand this will look different for every house. In some homes parents still have to work but now have to do it with kids running underfoot. In some homes parents still have to GO to work with kids still at the house, and they’re juggling all kinds of things while still trying to maintain social distancing. Just try to keep these things in mind with the perspective that this is worth it.
Don't miss this opportunity for you to teach these valuable lessons to your children. For these homes juggling work duties with kids-at-home duties, it's another life lesson to get them to pitch in and help, according to their age and ability.
Yes, this is hard and stressful. But this is not insurmountable! The best way to overcome the stress is to give your children discipline and a routine with positive things to fill their day.
5) I know the timing of this quarantine is “inconvenient,” especially for high school or college seniors who are missing out on their final year of sports, prom, or graduation ceremonies. Having been a college athlete, I would have been crushed to have my senior year cut short. So when that seems too much to bear, just remember what high school seniors in 1942 were doing when they missed out on graduation. Or what college students from 1964 to 1973 were doing when they had to skip their spring break trips. That could be a great learning opportunity for older students. Tell them to research what life was like for young adults in those eras. Read about Medal of Honor winners, noting the typical age those heroes were when they made such incredible sacrifices.
In this crisis, we are simply being asked to stay home. And while it is disappointing, life is full of disappointments. Teach your children now how to deal with those disappointments in a Godly and God-honoring way. Show them what it looks like to live out Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Ultimately, this is a beautiful time to bring the family unit back together so we can fulfill our call as parents in raising up the next generation to know God. Treasure this time with your children and TEACH them.
At the start of the time of the Judges in the Old Testament, there is one of the saddest verses in scripture. It says after Joshua died and his generation passed away, "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel." How shameful. There arose a generation who did not know the Lord. That was a tremendous statement about the failure of the previous generation. After all they had seen the Lord do through them and for them, they failed to teach that to their children.
May we use this time of quarantine and bonus time at home with our children as a way to teach them about God and what He has done.
For a great video about children honoring their parents, click here: PragerU