If you are one of millions of parents who has had to supervise your child’s education because of the pandemic, this article is for you. Or, if you know a COVID-schooler, I hope you will share it with them.
I have heard from a number of COVID-schoolers in my groups on Facebook. While some of them have embraced true homeschooling, many have been struggling. They try to do their best for their children but cannot wait for schools to get back to normal. This COVID-schooling thing doesn’t work, they think.
First, how do you know if you’re a COVID-schooler?
If your student is:
- still enrolled in a school while doing online classes at home
- using a curriculum or set of curricula to recreate a classroom education without your participation, or
- your student is just doing what is required until they can be back in the classroom, you might be a COVID-schooler.
If you are happy being a COVID-schooler, I’m not going to say you must change. For me, homeschooling is about having the freedom to choose what you believe is best for your family. If what you’re currently doing is serving you, continue on! But if you are struggling and worse yet believe that homeschooling is a terrible option, I want to share some things with you about true homeschooling.
Adopt your own schedule
If you’d like to shift from COVID-schooling to true homeschooling, the first thing you must do is adopt your own schedule. As true homeschoolers, our days and our weeks are filled with activities of our own choosing. That’s true, even when we enroll our kids in online or in-person classes.
If you are trying to work from home and teach your children, you can experience a huge relief in planning your kids’ education around your schedule, not a school’s. Teaching time can take place in the early morning, afternoons, evenings, and even on weekends. You can have a 4-day week or a 7-day week. You can teach year-round with planned breaks or you can follow the school’s schedule. It’s up to you! What’s even better is you can change your mind. If a particular schedule isn’t working right now, change it. No school board meetings are required.
In my own family, we have started school later in the day with teens, have taken days off for birthdays and snow days to have fun, and have taken vacations during off-peak times. The flexible schedule is one of our greatest joys of homeschooling.
Choose your own curriculum
If you are using the same type of materials that the school is using, you are missing out an another joy of homeschooling. If you or your child is bored and doesn’t understand the curriculum, you are experiencing unnecessary frustration.
Let’s take grammar as an example. The standard approach is having the teacher explain that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Students then complete a worksheet that asks them to identify the nouns. This is how I was taught grammar. Not so fun, right? And utterly forgettable. Excellent classroom teachers will also incorporate games to teach the concept. But now that students are learning online, playing classroom games becomes a lot more challenging.
When I started homeschooling, I was surprised to find a curriculum that uses songs to teach grammar. The repetition helped my kids to learn their parts of speech. The problem? They hated the songs.
That’s why I created Grammar Galaxy–elementary language arts curriculum that teaches grammar and other concepts using story. Nouns are abducted from planet Sentence and guardians (your students) have to put them back on the streets where they live–Person, Place, and Thing Street. Games, a few songs, and short lessons make this curriculum beloved by kids. But what they really love is having you learning with them. That’s recommendation #3.
Learn with your children
If you are trying to corral your child in front of the computer or a workbook to learn all day, you are missing out on another incredible blessing of true homeschooling–participating in their education.
Parents of traditionally schooled students have been told that education is to be done by the experts. Step aside and let the teachers do their jobs. However, research of homeschooling suggests that parents without teaching degrees can do as well or better in teaching their own children. No teaching model can outdo one-on-one tutoring. That’s just common sense.
The argument against parents homeschooling is that you can’t teach what you don’t know. The rebuttal is that it’s possible to learn as you go. I have shared this before, but I did not study world history in all my years of education. Even though I had no world history experience, I didn’t put my kids in classes with a trained teacher. Instead, I used excellent materials from Konos, Mystery of History, Notgrass, along with historical fiction to learn along with my kids. I have learned so much and I’ve had a blast doing it. If you want to take a teaching role in a subject you haven’t learned yourself, look for curriculum that gives you a script of exactly what to say. There are many of them out there. If you can read out loud, you can teach.
But what if you don’t know the answer to your child’s question? What if your child isn’t understanding a concept using the curriculum you’ve chosen? First, look for helps available with your particular curriculum. There are extra helps designed to go along with many curricula in the form of videos and additional worksheets. I include a list of helps for each lesson in Grammar Galaxy on a website for purchasers, for example. Many homeschool publishers like me also have user groups where someone will be happy to answer your question. If you prefer, you can reach out via phone or email for help, too.
Beyond using your particular curriulum resources, reach out to other homeschoolers for help. You can find other parents with strong skills in areas you feel weaker in. Get help solving a math problem, determining why an experiment didn’t work, or editing a paper. Homeschoolers love giving assistance. My Homeschool Sanity Circle group on Facebook is a great place to start.
That brings me to the last recommendation I have for you to move from COVID-schooling to true homeschooling. Go pro. Stop treating homeschooling like a part-time, emergency-use-authorization form of education. Embrace it as your career.
I know women who work full-time jobs and homeschool, too. But this path is not for the faint of heart. In most cases, it will require much assistance from a spouse or extended family member–especially if you have younger children. I did not work a business or outside job when I began homeschooling and I’m thankful I had that opportunity to focus on my family and their education. Homeschooling was more of a joy than a burden. If that’s not true for you, and you can afford to, I encourage you to reduce your working hours to make homeschooling a full-time career.
As a psychologist and someone who wanted to write and speak, I was worried that homeschooling wouldn’t be fulfilling. I thought I would be bored and miserable. My experience was the opposite. I’m not saying I never had days that were difficult. Dealing with messes and bad attitudes (mine and theirs) while changing diapers wasn’t a joy ride. But I know now why the Lord called me to homeschool. Here are a few reasons:
- It changed me for the better. I became more organized, patient, and humble. Take my How to Organize Your Homeschool Life class if you want to learn more.
- It taught me a love of learning and gave me a front-row seat to watch my children learn to do everything from read to cook to navigate conflict.
- It gave me the opportunity to not just teach my children the faith but live it out in front of them.
- It built a closeness in our family that I could only dream of.
- We have had so much fun. We’ve built castles, hosted banquets, and toured prisons–usually with friends.
I wouldn’t trade these blessings for another career that offered me more free time, more money, or a cleaner house. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but if you think it’s for you, I encourage you to fully embrace it.
This summer I played tennis with a neighbor who told me she was planning on having her girls do online classes through the public school this year, though the experience hadn’t been good in the spring. I encouraged her to consider homeschooling, but I checked in with her and learned that she planned to stick with COVID-schooling. A week after school had begun, however, she contacted me, wanting to know more about homeschooling. COVID-schooling was beyond frustrating for her.
We talked and I shared much of what I have discussed in this episode. As a result, she decided to begin true homeschooling. A short time later, after adopting her own schedule and curriculum, spending time learning with her children, and embracing homeschooling as her career, she thanked me. It had not only been life-changing for her, she said, but she was actually thankful that COVID brought homeschooling into her life.
I would love to see more women find the joy that is available in true homeschooling. Please share this article with COVID-schoolers you know.