Your First Week of Homeschooling — Was it the Perfect Storm?

storm-cabinAre you feeling horrible about your first week of emergency homeschooling? Was it frightful, frustrating, fractious, or all of the above? But let’s ask the key question:

Are your children still alive today?

If so, then stop – breathe – and relax for a moment! You’ve survived an extremely difficult week in 21st Century history! The process may not have been pretty, but give yourself some grace for the simple fact that the little humans are still breathing.

However if we take a more realistic look at the past week, then we’ll realize that the difficulties are not all due to homeschooling and that it’s not all YOUR fault! It’s been the perfect storm of childrearing and homeschooling and more!

  • We’ve had a week of rain here in Southern California. It’s been a dry winter, so the rain is welcomed and needed. But even in good circumstances, a week of rain here is enough to drive teachers and parents bonkers!
  • Your children have had a substitute teacher. Think back to your own school days. Were the other students in class on their best behavior when there was a sub? Probably not! Were the students graciously helping and assisting the sub? Likely not! So keep in mind, that you are a “sub” in the eyes of your children. It will take time for them to learn to see you and respect you in a new role!
  • It’s been a week of high stress. Most children pick up on the emotional cues of those around them. They feel the fear. Even though they do not have to search for eggs or toilet paper like you do, they sense the anxiety you are experiencing and it will affect their behavior. All of you feel out-of-whack and upside-down!
  • Children oftentimes find transitions difficult. The first day of vacation or holiday or back-to-school, without the routine of your usual schedule, is oftentimes problematic – under normal circumstances. This week your children are dealing with their own unexpected absence from school plus the totally new circumstance of having you home from work – yet still working. At first glance, it seems like vacation. But it’s not.

So, please don’t compare your family’s week to the one you imagine the Homeschooling Poster Family experienced. (Actually, it might surprise you that even the homeschooling regulars are undergoing transition as their regular classes and activities are cancelled too).

But, also, please don’t be too quick to use this week as proof that you can’t and never will succeed at homeschooling. Give yourself lots of time to meet the emotional needs of your children, to adapt to a new routine at home, and to cope with your own anxiety and stress.

With the experience I’ve gleaned in homeschooling and working with homeschoolers for over 30 years, let me offer you one major tip for your time as a homeschool sub or temp: don’t just fill time, fill holes!

Your children may have packets of worksheets to complete or scheduled classes online to attend. These are attempts to fill the time that school previously occupied. But I encourage you to consider schoolwork as more than simply checking items off a list.

If you are helping your children with long division problems and you notice that they are having trouble with subtracting the numbers in each step, then this is the perfect opportunity to fill the hole in their math education. Go back and review or reteach subtraction. Backing up is not counter-productive; it is actually solidifying a shaky foundation and will offer tremendous benefits in the longer term. Provide tutoring in areas of weakness and let your child emerge from this period of isolation, better equipped to succeed in school!

If you need help in finding materials to help you tutor your child or to locate virtual resources for your student to use, let me know.

This week may have been the perfect storm.  But look for the thunder and the rain to begin to subside this next week.  And hopefully, it won’t be long before you catch glimpses of a rainbow!


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