With most of Americans at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children who normally attend public school are at home with parents who are balancing schooling, trying to work from home, and keeping tabs on a house that is not used to having all the people there, all the time.
So how do veteran homeschoolers deal with home management while homeschooling?
I'm laughing as I'm writing this because as I write this, I look over my open concept living-dining-kitchen area in a combination of shock and awe. My daughter is beside me at the dining table, putting together a Junior Ranger building block kit, the washing machine and dishwasher are running behind me in the kitchen, and the living room looks like it's been attacked by a whirling dervish called a cat tornado, which is extraordinarily accurate.
There are some things I do, though, to get a handle on managing house cleaning, cooking, homeschooling, and generally not losing my mind. I don't always do these things every day, because life happens, but flexibility is the name of the game.
Clean as you cook
When I cook, I clean. If I use flour, when I'm done with it, I put it away. If I use a measuring cup for just water, I dry it and put it back in the cupboard. Now, it would be exceedingly helpful if others in the household did this too, but alas.
My dining area is right beside the kitchen (again, open floor concept) so when my daughter is working on an online educational game, I am five steps away from her, refilling the dishwasher, putting things away, or starting dinner in the slow cooker. When dinner is over, most nights, I'm too tired to clean the kitchen again. So the dirty dishes get put in the sink with hot soapy water to soak. Before I go to bed, I either load the dishwasher or just let them sit.
Complete transparency here: I have a lot on my plate, from homeschooling, to referring my daughter and my 25-year-old son who has autism (but developmentally he's nine), to helping my paraplegic husband when he's home from work. Sometimes, doing dishes is a low priority.
I am a firm believer that children need to have chores. It teaches responsibility as well as life skills for when they are on their own. In my house, chores like scooping cat boxes; feeding and watering the dog and cats; emptying the dishwasher; taking the trash to the dumpster (and on Wednesdays, to the curb for pickup); mowing the grass; cleaning the hall bathroom (since it's used by the two children at home); and picking up the floor to be vacuumed are all done by my son Sam and daughter Laura. Laura, since she is the only one being homeschooled, also has to keep the weekly homeschool supply shelf organized.
There's another reason for chores. I cannot do it all, and I'm not the only one who lives here. Even my paraplegic husband, though he works outside the home, folds laundry and takes care of his para supply cabinet.
Having systems or routines in place for every day tasks help a lot. I usually put a load of laundry in the wash in the morning, while the dishwasher is cleaning the dishes that have been soaking last night. Soaking the dishes is a pre-wash to the dishwasher; because I do this, I can run the dishwasher on the "express wash" cycle, which saves on water and electricity. Running the washing machine in the morning means by lunchtime that load of clothes is going into the dryer. By the mid-afternoon, it's folded and put away.
Usually, I take any meat out of the freezer that I want to cook for dinner that night to defrost -- or to put in my slow cooker. As someone who has autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses, utilizing my slow cooker in the morning when I have energy helps me in the afternoons when it's time to cook dinner, when my energy is depleted.
MInd you, all this is happening while I'm working with Laura on spelling words and talking her through her math lesson and assigning her problems to do in her math book. We take any reading that needs to be done to the sofa -- she learns best when I read her science and history chapters to her first, then she reads them, and answers the chapter questions.
Managing a home and being actively involved in your child's education is a delicate balancing act. The key is to set your priorities, plan, and work the plan. Enlist your children and husband's help and make home making a family affair.
(C) 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
With the global pandemic forcing cancellations and closings, many parents are pulling their kids from public and private schools to homeschool. But where do you begin? Can you even homeschool without a set curriculum?
The short answer to that last question is yes. Unlike homeschools of thirty years ago, we are blessed with a wealth of information at our fingertips through the Internet, smart televisions, and tablets. We can create a eclectic and powerful blend of curricula for any student, at any level, with tools found on the Internet and, quite possibly, our own homes.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that provide resources for homeschooling families My family and I receive a small commission from sales from the links mentioned, but I do not share any links that I do not personally recommend. Thank you for your support.
To homeschool, before you pull your child out of public school, you need to visit the website of your state’s department of education and search for homeschooling. States have different rules, and so you will want to follow what your state requires. As soon as you can, complete the paperwork and send it in, and you will most likely be required to give a name for your homeschool. This is relatively simple – just don’t use your last name, as that takes away a certain level of credibility, if your child goes to the same school as his or her last name.
As soon as you receive the documentation from the state announcing that your homeschool is active, print out the official statement from the Department of Education and take it to your child’s school. You will need this document to formally withdraw your child from that school. You are now a homeschooler! Congratulations!
Now let’s talk how you can homeschool. Don’t believe that you have to imitate public school; in this case, imitation is not flattery. You will want to take a few days off and ask your children what they want to do in their homeschool. If a child is allowed to learn a specific interest, there’s a high likelihood it will stick. For example, if a child is interested in chemistry, don’t say “Oh but you’re just in 10th grade; juniors take chemistry.” If a child is interested in chemistry, by all means, let him learn it! If you have a second-grader who loves trains, by all means – incorporate that into homeschool! There is a wealth of knowledge to be had about trains: spelling, math, science, history, all of it can be incorporated into a study of trains.
There are many online resources that are free or low-cost to use for curriculum to get started. The main thing is, you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars to homeschool. Here are some resources:
Do you have a dictionary in your home? That can be a spelling book. You can do an Internet search for grade-level spelling words and, using the dictionary and other resources such as word search and crossword creators, have a complete spelling curriculum. Add in writing definitions (again, the dictionary) and sentences (that would be writing), then slide in writing the words multiple times each, both in print, in cursive, and typing them, and you have a multi-sensory spelling curriculum.
A simple grammar curriculum I use a great deal is from Schoolhouse Teachers. In addition to many other courses, their language arts and grammar courses are wonderful online resources to teach your child. At the end of the courses, they receive certificates of completion that document their progress. There are many self-paced courses and some are video-based.
In addition to Schoolhouse Teachers, 7Sisters Homeschool offers a no-busywork e-book-based curriculum from 20+ year veteran homeschool moms. They offer a huge amount of language arts and other subjects for several grade levels.
In addition to Schoolhouse Teacher’s phenomenal science resources, Home Science Tools offer first-rate science tools, equipment, and projects to supplement your curriculum. For curriculum, you can use Education.com for science projects and worksheets up to fifth grade (they also have many other subjects, too). Teachers Pay Teachers is a good site, too – you can do a search for any subject, including science, and choose the free option, to get a plethora of resources and worksheets ready to download and print. This site goes up through 12th grade.
In addition to Education.com and Teachers Pay Teachers, which also feature math worksheets, you can teach math with simple at-home instructions. All you need is paper and pencil to make worksheets for counting, addition, and subtraction, and you can download and print multiplication tables to use for multiplying and dividing. For young children, you don’t even need paper and pencil – just play, count, and play games to teach them numbers.
For higher maths, MathPlanet.com is an incredible, free online resource that offers courses in pre-algebra, Algebra I and II, Geometry, SAT, and ACT prep.
Reading to your children is the best way they will learn to read. Seriously. If they have books, there’s no need to visit the library or bookstore, or order books online. Just have them read their own books. You can read them too, then ask them questions to make sure they comprehend what they read. Audio books are great, too, for long car rides or just to play at home instead of having the television on. Don’t forget classic literature.
Want to ensure your child learns a foreign language? Schoolhouse Teachers offers incredible courses (many with video instruction) in French, Spanish, Latin, Latvian, American Sign, and English as a Second Language. Why not learn it with your child so you can practice together? My daughter, Laura, just told me she wants to learn Spanish next year in fifth grade – and I intend on learning it with her. I also would love to learn American Sign Language to better communicate with hearing impaired people at my church and in the community.
Who says physical education has to be a structured class? Go outside with your kids, and shoot some hoops. Talk a walk around the neighborhood. Have the kids time themselves while running races. There are so many things you can do with “PE” – just make it fun!
With so many activities being canceled or closed with the Coronavirus pandemic, extracurricular activities should really be examined heavily before diving into them. Still, this is a great time to show love to neighbors and friends. If you know of someone who is ill (it doesn’t have to be a pandemic), show some love to them by mowing their yard or taking their trash to the curb or dumpster. Service can be a big deal in homeschool. Baking, cooking, cleaning, and car maintenance can all be part of homeschool. In baking alone, reading, science, and math are all part and parcel of baking a cake, whether it’s from scratch or a box.
Homeschool is not just about academics – it’s learning how to deal with life, in the ups and downs. You cannot learn perseverance from a worksheet – it must be modeled. What better way to teach your kids determination than by homeschooling in the hard times?
© 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her daughter. In the past, she also briefly homeschooled her son, who has autism.
Terrie McKee / Homeschooling1Child.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.