Well, my friends, here we are in the middle of a pandemic and everyone is in isolation. We are working and educating in family units, at home. Is this what homeschooling usually looks like? Nope, not at all. We are unhappy as well about not hanging out with friends, playing sports and freely wandering the mall…or craft and thrift stores. (that’s our jam)
So how can I help? What do I have to offer? Here are my thoughts and some of the things that have helped us get through difficult times in our homeschooling journey and in life.
- Breathe. No really, take a big breath and let it out slowly. Do that a few times and slow down your thoughts. It’s a great way to start your day, before you are needed, before you initiate your plan for the day and dare I say it, before coffee! (Ok, maybe during coffee or while it’s brewing.) Breathe with your kids, show them how and model the slowness of time spent on self care. Next add some gratitude or a prayer. Simply recounting the things we are thankful for, makes all the difference and for our family, thanking God for the good things points us to our Hope. I’d like to say that this breath and gratitude is a serene moment of the day, everyday but reality is that it’s not. Sometimes I have been able to carve out serenity before the day has taken over and sometimes breath and prayer happen with toddlers climbing all over you or after assuring your child that their sibling won’t be allowed to “eat all the favourite cereal”. Gratitude and breath can also happen while sitting on the bedside of a teen who doesn’t want to face the day. In those moments, the peace is deliberate and a moment of learning for all. It’s reminding everyone to hush for a moment and pause.
- Eat purposefully. In our busy lives food is often an afterthought. Don’t let it be. Planning, preparing, eating and clean up are excellent ways to build life skills and enjoy family time. Pull out that cookbook, search your favourite recipe online and make a thoughtful meal together. You’ll be surprised at what kids will eat if they made it themselves and they may offer to cook for you on their own one day! Enjoy slow meals and family time around the table. (scroll down for more!)
- Get outside! At least once a day and much more if you can, go play in your yard, go for a walk or find an open space to play a game with your family and/or your pet. Go outside together and go outside alone (assuming someone can oversee the rest of the family). Yes, we need to avoid being close to other families and surfaces that others may have touched but like my Mom always said, “fresh air and sunshine are good for what ails you”. It also helps to burn off some energy and get our brains and emotions in a better place. Stuck inside? Exercise to an online video or play hide and seek. It’s fun!
- Exercise your brain. Here’s the “homeschool” piece you were looking for. Try to plan some time each day to exercise your brain. Sometimes that means a crossword and sometimes that means science or a novel study. Be kind during this stressful time and understand that new learning doesn’t usually happen well when anxiety is high. If your child’s school or school board has provided online learning, consider first whether your child can manage learning at this time. If so, dig in. There is often comfort in doing routines and practicing skills that feel “normal”. Enjoy. No one is asking you to become an expert teacher in the next month. To be honest, homeschoolers often research for years and do ongoing research to find the resources to meet the needs of their children. Enjoy learning alongside your kids. Make mistakes and get messy.
- Shhhhh. Take time each day for quiet. Everyone needs a little time to themselves. When we had a houseful and I was homeschooling them all, we often scheduled a quiet hour after lunch. As Mama of 4, this was often nap time for the baby, time to read with a toddler (until they napped) and time for older ones to work on a project or read on their own. Even in isolation, we often need time alone with our own thoughts….or to rest.
- Speaking of rest, get a good night’s sleep! I am convinced that 80% of sanity is having a good night’s sleep. Nighttime routines are comforting for all of us but especially children and yes, even teens. Keeping to routines brings a sense of safety and we all could use a little “normal” right about now. If you are struggling with quieting your thoughts and getting a good sleep, download your favourite quiet music, podcast or faith based readings and listen as you get your rest. This too shall pass…as John (my hubby) says, “It may pass like a kidney stone, but it shall pass.”
I’m confident that life after this current crisis will be very different and it will be a line in the sand of history but together we are so much better. If this has encouraged or inspired you, please share it with a friend and be sure to check back for more ponderings in the coming weeks.