Schools are closed. Return dates are uncertain, and teachers are scrambling to get their digital lessons uploaded. Parents are faced with long days at home and the new responsibility of being their children’s teacher.
My public school teaching daughter reminded me that I was once pulled, rather unwillingly, into being a “homeschool mom,” too.
It’s been years ago now, but I will never forget my husband asking me to consider homeschooling our three children. As a trained public school teacher, I fully supported our family being a light for Christ in our public schools, and our children seemed to be doing just fine in public school. But a day came when our district made programing cuts, and all three children were on different daily schedules. Even their school breaks were staggered, and it was beginning to drive us crazy. Long story short: with lots of prayer, we made the switch. Here are a few things I learned.
Don’t Be Intimidated, You Already Are Their Teacher
As a parent, you are your child’s (or children’s) first teacher. You’ve taught them countless skills from tying their shoes and brushing their teeth to manners and household chores. You may be intimidated by some subject matter (anything over sixth grade math was a challenge for me!), but you do not have to be the expert. Teachers are working hard to transfer knowledge through e-learning and online availability. Consider yourself your children’s coach, the one who comes alongside and leads each to learning opportunities, encouraging, and disciplining along the way.
Take Advantage of the Perks of Being at Home
Some people thrive on having a schedule and routine. For others, the word “routine” is another word for rut or boredom. I’m somewhere in between. Sometimes I love to have a routine, and other times I give into my rebellious streak and break it. Remember, it’s your home, your schedule. Set up your routine, create your spreadsheets if you must—and then just when it begins to drive everyone nuts—change it up! Start school in your pjs, stay up late and read a good book together, break up screen time with living room jumping jacks or constructing cardboard forts in the garage.
Enjoy Your Family Dynamic
Unless your children are twins, they are probably not in the same grade at school or at the same learning levels. But don’t let this stop you from encouraging them to interact, create, discuss, and explore ideas and projects together. Get out the trunk of old dress-up clothes and act out scenes from literature. While you’re at it, film these moments and send them to grandparents and friends. Utilize lunch times to explore documentaries on current assignment subjects. Use dramatic or silly voices to read aloud classic books. God has gifted each of your children differently; celebrate those differences. Enjoy letting them try new things in the safe place of your home without peer pressure or the threat of humiliation.
As I look back, I wouldn’t give up our homeschooling years for the world. Yes, we had times of frustration, slammed doors, and tears; yet, there was also laughter, creativity, spontaneity, and fun. Whereas I had been rewarded as a parent in seeing my children’s first steps and hearing their first words, as their teacher, I found that I had the joy and privilege of seeing my children learn and process new ideas, conquer essential skills, and understand new curriculum. What satisfaction to see their eyes sparkle as they grasped a new concept, or simply enjoyed the company of their own family members! The privilege of being there for these moments helped me to know my each of my children more deeply and in ways that might have been otherwise lost.
Who me? Homeschool? I wouldn’t have traded it for the world! Whether the Lord calls you to homeschool for this short season or for longer, I encourage you to find the blessing in these moments.
“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).