Usually, the decision to educate your children at home is made with lots of consideration and prayer. However, due to recent events with the COVID-19 outbreak, many parents have found that they have been suddenly thrust into home education, even if only temporarily. Whether this is a temporary situation for you, or if you have had to suddenly switch to home education for some other reason, we are here to help you out.
Most people don’t realize that home education is more than just doing schoolwork at home. When you educate your children at home, you will find changes in plans, routines, schedules, and the way that your family interacts with each other. This can be a rough transition, especially if you were not expecting it.
Honestly, most of these things will apply even if you are now just home all the time with all of your children, whether you plan to home educate or not. You will have to make a plan for how to keep your home running and tidy, to feed everyone, and to get your own work done. A lot of family togetherness is easier to manage with a plan.
Organizing Your Family
The first thing you need to do is organize your family. You may have noticed that, now that your home is used more, it gets dirtier faster. That’s okay because now you also have a live-in cleaning crew to help you! Teaching your family how to work together to keep the household running is a definite necessity. Community is about everyone pitching in to make life easier, and this is best taught at home by giving everyone chores to teach the purpose and value of contributing to the whole at the expense of our own time and effort. Start slowly, and teach gently.
Teaching Your Family
If your child already has material to work on at home – that’s great! However, if you need a curriculum, there is a lot available. Home education is now a standard part of the educational landscape, and numerous publishers provide material for any subject you might imagine. When educating at home, there’s no requirement to restrict yourself only to the standard subjects, or even to do the standard subjects in the standard way. What is your child interested in? How do they learn best?
Every child learns differently, and if some particular book or curriculum isn’t getting the job done, remember that there are more out there, and there are also people who can help you figure out what is best for your student.
Ask your child where they are enjoying themselves in school, where they are struggling, and what they would really love to learn about. Take this time to experience some freedom in education. While your children are with you, assess where they are educationally and where they want to be. See if you can come up with a single step you all can take during this period to get closer to the goal.
Giving Yourself Some Room
Of course, having your children in the house isn’t always ideal for the parents. We have things we need to accomplish as well. Whether it is managing the household, holding down a job, or even just following your own interests, you need time that isn’t dominated by the kids. This means inventing ways to help your children occupy themselves that builds them up without involving you.
We discourage just throwing them onto television, YouTube, or the Internet in general. While these can leave kids mesmerized for significant periods, the long-term costs to the children tend to outweigh the benefits for the parents. Spending too much time with screens tends to create whiny, crabby kids. Instead, you can institute reading time, game time, or family movie time (having a planned movie is much better than simply “flipping channels” or scrolling through Netflix or Prime). You can organize the school schedule so that all of the things that they can do on their own are at the same time, That leaves you a block of (relatively) uninterrupted work on your own projects. Believe it or not, many homeschooling moms run businesses, work full-time at online jobs, or even work outside of the home without subtracting from their kids’ education. It takes dedication and creative scheduling, but it is possible to do both.
Discipling Your Family
You might not have asked to be together so much as a family, but that’s not a reason not to take advantage of it. Your children are now in your care. Are you concerned about their spiritual life? Take some time to do family devotionals. Read from the Bible, sing worship songs together, and read other inspirational literature. There are numerous plans, study guides, and worship playlists that you can find all over the Internet to help you get started.
If you have a desire for growth in an area of your child’s life, now is the time to work on it. And, by work on it, I don’t mean to harp on it. Nagging doesn’t lead to fruitfulness. If it is something that you and the child both agree needs work, create on a plan together to help accomplish the goal. If your child needs work in an area and they don’t see it or understand its importance, that takes extra wisdom to manage. Remember that any step forward is progress. Decide together how to tackle the problem area.
Make a Plan
Above all, I encourage you to make a plan. The goal is not to confine yourself to preplanned activities, but to make sure that you are intentional about what you are doing. You have an opportunity to do something new and innovative with your family during this time. Take out a pen and paper, and write down what you want to accomplish. Make the list as big as you want, then pare it down to what you think can be done during the time that you have. Be intentional about achieving those goals.
If you don’t do any planning at all, the likely thing that will happen is that life will get away from you, and instead of thriving during this time you will just be treading water. If you make a plan (or even a list), you may not get done everything you want, but you are more likely to get something worthwhile accomplished than if you don’t plan at all.
Whether this is just a temporary situation or if you plan to use this as a reason to start home educating permanently, I hope you make the most of your time at home with your family! Follow Homeschool Oklahoma on Facebook and Instagram for more tidbits about family management and home education. Become a member of HSOK for more resources and assistance. Also, check out our other resources for those thrust into home education.