Schooling at home survival guide: Tips from a home-school mom"

By Katie Harris

The Surveyor

As families everywhere are thrust into schooling at home, it’s natural to feel uncertain, unprepared and even flat out fearful. Taking on the responsibility of our children’s education is a commitment that no parent takes lightly. While most home schooling parents spend months planning and preparing, parents faced with school closures are stepping up to the plate this week with no choice and little warning.

Yes, being thrown into it is scary, but read this, then read it again: You can do it.

As you embark on your new school-at-home journey, take heart in knowing that, not only are you surrounded by other parents feeling like they’re flying blind too but with a plethora of resources at your disposal in the form of a sizable home-school community right here in Berthoud. Parents just like you, who took the plunge at some point and started home schooling, even though we, too, were terrified we’d fail our kids, and have been making it work, sometimes succeeding, sometimes nearly failing, mostly just winging it ever since, are on your team and here to help!

From one school at home mom to another, here are some tips to help things run smoothly.

Attitude

A positive attitude is more important now than ever before. Our children are watching how we react to the current crisis and will mimic our behavior. We didn’t ask for this but we have to find a bright side, if not for ourselves then for our kids. Accentuate all the opportunities in front of you: More time to spend together as a family, a reprieve from evening homework, an extended spring break, more time outdoors, time to explore a hobby, the list goes on.

Realistic Expectations

The first year I home-schooled my kids I covered 12 subjects a day because I thought we had to fill seven hours. Within a couple of weeks, I had a pile of bills stacked up that I hadn’t had time to pay, a full voice mailbox of messages begging to be returned, and a house in shambles. Here’s the thing: finishing a day’s schooling in half the time and then going about the rest of your life is one of the greatest perks of schooling at home! Throw guilt out the window and let yourself be done when you’re done.

Individualism

There’s never been a better opportunity to let your kids explore their unique interests. For my kids and I, this was one of the biggest draws of home schooling. Each year my kids create a list of things they’d like to study, and we make sure to cover each item during group learning or as an individual project. Whether it’s a topic that wouldn’t have been covered in school this year or one they’d like to explore further, now’s the time to dig in!

Adventure

Remember all those extra daytime hours I mentioned? Wondering what the kids are going to do while you pay bills? Send them outdoors! Spring in Colorado means exciting weather variations by the day (yes, I called Colorado’s spring weather “exciting”) so send them out with sleds on Monday, bicycles on Tuesday and rain boots on Wednesday.

Technology

Libraries and museums are closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a virtual field trip with your kids. Here are a few of our favorite free, educational websites.

Khan Academy: Free tutorials on every subject and for all grade levels. Khan academy is a great resource for homework help while E-learning. Visit www.khanacademy.org.

Scholastic: Scholastic is providing free, story-based content while schools are closed. Visit www.classroommagazines.scholastic.com for day-by-day projects by grade level that kids can do on their own or with their families.

Duolingo: A free language-learning app that’s fun for kids and compatible with a wide range of devices. Visit www.duolingo.com.

Browse comprehensive lists of educational sites and apps offering free resources during the current school closure at www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/free-educational-apps-games-and-websites and www.amazingeducationalresources.com.

Flexibility

Any home-schooler will tell you, flexibility is key. Sometimes my kids home-school on the road or while sitting in a waiting room. Sometimes math for the day consists of weighing and pricing produce at the grocery store because we’re out of food. Sometimes science is a nature walk because I forgot to order lab supplies. Sometimes we watch a movie with a vague connection to history because I’m just exhausted, or stressed out, or done. Life will go on, the kids’ futures won’t be ruined, and this too, like all things, will pass.

On behalf of home-school moms everywhere, we’ve got your back.

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