• Christian Elliot

A Crash Course in Homeschooling...and Maintaining Your Sanity

Updated: Mar 20

Over on her personal Facebook page Nina has been offering some hard-won wisdom for you parents suddenly charged with homeschooling your kids amidst this coronavirus scare.


Below are a couple posts she shared that seems to have resonated with others.


We hope you find it helpful!




THE ART OF HOMESCHOOLING - PART 1

March 13th, 2020


For any mama friend who is facing the challenge of homeschooling for the next several weeks, I want to encourage you:


TIP #1


You do not need to turn your home into a classroom, with a ridged schedule and sit-down learning.

This took me YEARS to figure out. Learning is done best when creativity can flow, and the muse doesn't always respect our ridged schedules.


Keep in mind that if you can assist your child in getting lost in a craft/book/project/ you are winning. Education is happening.


Keep the snacks flowing and let them awaken their imagination and ride that wave.


TIP #2


Time blocking.


Setting boundaries is important, and I like to use the method of time blocking.

For example, I have divided our days into about 9 blocks:


  1. early am: 7-8:30: wake, breakfast, dress, play

  2. am: 8:30-10: math, reading block

  3. late am: 10-12: writing, history block

  4. lunch 12-1: make food, eat, clean up

  5. afternoon 1-2:30: science, spelling block

  6. late afternoon 2:30-5 free play time

  7. 5pm: chore time! Hard stop--all kids know that playing stops at 5.

  8. 6pm dinner

  9. 7-8pm evening: clean up, reading, cleaning room before bed


My kids know what is expected of them in each "block.”


This is more of a rhythm than a schedule, and compared to when I used to look at the clock all day, getting frustrated if a particular assignments took longer than 30-45 minutes, I love the freedom that time blocking allows.


It also minimizes whining.


For example, if the kids know that video games/movies are not permitted until the late afternoon time zone, they don't really ask about it.


TIP #3


Lastly, I read the Brave Learner by Julie Bogart (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) as it inspired me to create an environment for exploration and creativity in my home.


For example, my living room is not at all beautiful. I keep baskets stuffed with library books in the living room, I have a crappy IKEA coffee table from 2003 that holds 6 baskets inside, each is filled with kids activities and crafting supplies.


There is a cabinet stuffed with board games, and puzzles, a drawer unit filled with paper, markers, glue-sticks, yarn and crochet hooks etc...


We have audio books and an old CD player, bins filled with stencils, little readers....YES, my living room looks like a tornado hit it every day. YES, I make the kids clean it every day (5:00 chore time!)

I make it a point to not gripe on them about the mess they make (this is hard). I want them to get lost in creativity, that is the goal.


TIP #4


GET THEM OUTSIDE.


Most days, my kids are inside with their school work, and at about 2pm, they head outdoors.


For those of you who are panicking because you see your productivity going down the drain, I assure you, once your kids have been indoors working all morning, they WANT to get away from you!


Send them outside. Throw some water in a container, some crackers and jerky on a plate and tell them the door is closed for at least an hour.


We have laser guns, PVC pipe "swords" (I have boys), a trampoline, a small patch of woods, a sand box, sidewalk chalk, bikes and roller blades....even a cardboard box will entertain them for hours!


WE GOT THIS


I hope this helps you exhale a little. I am sorry that you are being forced into this radical change of your routine, and no doubt it is overwhelming. I am here for you, I encourage you, and I know you can rise to the challenge!


Nina


THE ART OF HOMESCHOOLING - PART 2

March 17th, 2020


To continue the conversation with all my mama friends in the first week of homeschooling, here are some thoughts as to why you feel overwhelmed right now.


Remember when you were pregnant, and you had like 9 months to prepare for this kid, and it was terrifying and exhilarating...

And then you had this beautiful baby, and all they did for weeks was sleep, eat, and poop, and that too was terrifying and exhilarating...


As they got older, their needs changed, but so did your competency and your ability to meet their needs.


GIVE YOURSELF GRACE AS YOU GROW INTO THIS


You were not handed a 2-year old at birth, but someone whose individual phases of development grew alongside your ability to parent them through and toward the next phase?! It’s remarkable.


All that to say, your homeschool experience this week is like being handed a 2-year old. For some of you, it's like being handed multiple 2-year olds.


Don’t think for one minute that you should be able to seamlessly juggle the demands that were thrust upon you over night. No way Jose.


So take what you’ve learned on Monday when, for example, you decided that the 9-10 block was “math,” and then every one of your kids needed your help at the same time and you lost your mind.


Erase that tight schedule you created. Better yet, toss it in the trash. It isn’t your fault. You did not fail. It was never going to work in the first place.


Here is what I recommend instead:


  1. Pile up all the things that you want your kids to accomplish with their school day.

  2. Edit that pile to the bare necessities.

  3. Assess which assignments/topics will need your assistance, and which topics they can complete without you. Here is the hard part. Based on grade level, complexity of work, attention span and personality of the child, (you will be amazed at what things kids will take ownership of, and which things need your assistance), this is a highly individualized piece of the homeschool puzzle that nobody can prepare you for because they don’t have your kids!

  4. Finally re-work your time blocks to reflect YOUR capacity to give one-on-one help. You are a private tutor to each of your kids, BUT only one at a time, so make it count.


How do I assess the effectiveness of my scheduling? I pay attention to the temperature of our home measured by the number of tantrums and tears, coming not just from my kids, but from myself as well. It's a fact--I have tantrums too.

An outburst, from them or me, is simply feedback, that what is going on isn’t working.


Episodes of frustration mean it’s time to scale back, not plow forward. It’s a cue for you to get curious, to rearrange the order of things.


Ask what caused the outburst and perhaps involve the child with helping you solve the problem. Make tea, give a back rubs, eat a snack...and start with a fresh, clean, scheduling grid tomorrow.


For me, the most humbling thing about homeschooling is how much it exposes of my need for control over my desire to nurture the hearts of my children, and for this I repent daily.

This is also a fact.


Remember to give grace, not just to them but to yourself. No one said this would be easy, but I know with all my heart that you are the woman for the job.


Nina


PS. Curious about the work my husband and I do? You can learn more here.


About Me

You could call me a natural health nerd. I'm a husband and father of four young kids. I wear funny looking toe shoes. I wear out podcasts and audiobooks faster than people can make them. I get paid to ask thoughtful questions and I love writing about what I learn.

 

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