I usually do a bit of planning in advance on what topics I think would be most helpful each month. For March, when we are in the thick of registration, my original plan was going to be about how to survive making class choices from all of the fabulous RHG options. At the time, how to survive homeschooling during a pandemic simply wasn’t on my radar as a possible topic.
But here we are, our world turned a bit upside down.
Some assume that it is business as usual for homeschoolers as we all continue to sit around the kitchen table with our textbooks open. We all know how misinformed that is. Yes, our kids can carry on with their academics, but homeschooling is a lifestyle – a lifestyle that was just as interrupted as everyone else’s. Homeschooling isn’t just about academics, as many non-homeschoolers may believe, and can’t be summed up with a printed daily schedule or list of favorite online learning resources.
While those with kids in traditional schooling are now suddenly finding themselves trying to establish a new routine, so are homeschoolers. Our events have also been canceled, and our home routines are severely altered with shared spaces and rationed internet bandwidth. For most of us, our children’s education and well-being has been just as impacted as everyone else.
I’m sure you’ve gotten emails from critical suppliers all the way down to coffee and retail shops on how they are responding to Covid-19. My question for you is – how are you responding? How are we, as homeschoolers, to respond to ourselves, others, and new circumstances?
Moms, put your oxygen mask on first. Your kids are going to be looking toward you to see how they should respond. It sets the tone for your kids. Take care of yourself. Make sure you get outside for walks and make a point to connect with your friends – whether that is by phone, text, or Zoom. When needed, find a quiet place in your house to regroup. Just because you are home, it doesn’t mean you can’t practice a little social distancing when you need a break.
While I’ve seen lots of kind gestures from the homeschooling community toward those who are suddenly finding themselves at home with school children, I’ve also heard a bit of frustration at the sudden acknowledgment of what we do after prior criticism and dismissal. Remember, however, at one time we all didn’t fully understand this thing called homeschooling, and we didn’t have our enlightened moment during a pandemic either. Instead of feeling vindicated, understand that parents are frightened and scared, even if their fear that their student will drop grade levels while learning at home for a month or two is completely unfounded. Simply give them some encouragement that their kids don’t need a full academic 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. schedule or online resources. They need engaged parents who will give them safety, security, and time.
When my kids were younger and people would ask the typical socialization question, I would sometimes reply with a grin, “Yes, I am a little worried about socialization. I mean, my kids are so busy taking advantage of such awesome activities with others that it is sometimes difficult to be home long enough to finish our academics.” The fact is, we have such rich socialization activities seamlessly integrated into our daily life that it is a bit of a shock when they are suddenly gone. Am I the only one who finds it a little ironic that it takes a pandemic for homeschoolers to worry about socialization?
Your household is likely looking a bit different right now. Dads are home. Your kids are missing their outside activities, and everyone is getting a bit stir crazy. For those experiencing the slowdown of PSL, I’m sure you have a new strong dislike for kittens. One pandemic phenomenon I keep seeing on FB, especially from moms of teenage boys, is that showers and pants are becoming optional. I’ll admit that getting out of my PJs isn’t a high priority right now.
No, this is no longer the average homeschooling year. And prior to 2020, you couldn’t just Google “how to homeschool through a pandemic” and get numerous hits of blog posts and articles from homeschoolers who have been there, done that. We are figuring this out on our own – and doing so together.
We know to wash our hands for 20 seconds to stay safe, but how do we stay sane while homeschooling during a pandemic and the resulting new levels of family togetherness?
5 Steps to Staying Sane While Homeschooling During a Pandemic
- If you are a technophobe, get over it. Now is the time to learn how to use FaceTime, Zoom, Twitter, Netflix Party, Houseparty, and TikTok. Let your kids connect with friends virtually, and maybe have them show you how too.
- Try to stay on a schedule. I’ve heard it is easier to stay on task when you have less downtime and flexibility rather than more time to complete your to-do list. I think that’s true. Now that most of your activities have been wiped off the calendar, don’t let your schooling routine, even if it looks a bit different, slip. It will give you and your family some sense of normal when nothing else is.
- Get fresh air and exercise. I always feel better after a walk around the block, even if I wasn’t so thrilled about going originally. Get the kids outside regularly. One thing I’ve been seeing in our neighborhood is kind and inspirational chalked messages on the driveways for those walking by. Fresh air and kindness go a long way, and you can count it as art for the day!
- Try something new. There are so many companies sharing resources and free online lessons right now from art, music, yoga, languages, and more. Or go unplugged and explore cooking, chess, or crochet with your kids. Ask your kids what they’d like to learn that isn’t part of their normal academic schedule and then work your way through the list.
- Laugh as much as possible. It is so important and such good medicine. I’ve been loving all the memes, silly songs, and creative ways others have been sharing as a coping mechanism with all of this uncertainty. If you need a break from pandemic comedy, listen to a favorite comedian or play a silly board game with your family. Laughing with your kids is especially therapeutic.
Homeschoolers are a strong and supportive community. While things seem out of control, we do have control over how we respond. Reach out, connect, or reconnect with each other. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just a simple “How are you and do you need anything?”
Most importantly, stay safe and healthy. Pants are optional.