5 Tips for Happier Homeschool Days
Guest Post by Hannah Spray
5 Tips for Surviving Homeschool
There are many different reasons families choose to have their children learn at home rather than at a brick and mortar school. In addition to that, there are many different ways to “do homeschool” in Canada and around the world.
Registered homeschooling? Enroll with a distance learning program? Fully virtual? Blended in-person and online learning? What curriculum to follow? Or go off-script with unschooling? Maybe even explore the world and start worldschooling?
All the options can be mentally exhausting to investigate once you’ve opened up the doors to being the primary person in charge of your child’s learning. But the benefits of learning at home with your child are plenty once you figure out which way to go.
To help you glean the most out of your homeschooling experience, here are five tips for surviving the transition to homeschool and distance learning.
Create a Flexible Routine
One of the first things you’re going to want to do when you start homeschooling is to create a routine you and your children can get into that can naturally guide the transitions of the day. There are many ways to do this, and every family’s routine will look different. But if you and your children know what to expect out of the flow of the day, things will run smoother.
Make Bonding a Priority
Before you start jumping into academic projects, make it a priority to simply spend time together with your children. Don’t bring in worksheets and lessons. Just be with them. Do the things they like to do. Let them feel the truth in the matter: that they are the most important part of your life, not completing lesson plans, and learning together is going to be a process of love and enjoyment.
When you start with a strong base of connection, the rest will fall into place so much easier.
Follow Their Interests
Before you start planning a curriculum, take a pause to think about what your child is truly curious about. It’s easy to get carried away with plans that have been made with the intention of meeting grade requirements or replicating the learning journey of another family.
Maybe it’s horses. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s dinosaurs, or drawing, or buildings. It may even be something you don’t think is worthwhile to investigate as a learning opportunity. Put your own ideas aside and take some time to dig deeper into what your child is interested in, and you will find thread after thread to follow that can lead to learning that will last a lifetime.
Not only that, but by basing your child’s learning on what they are drawn to, you are reconfirming for them that bond that you have built. When your child understands that your true goal is to help them discover their own world, the magic of learning will unfold in a much more natural and meaningful way for both of you.
Whatever you discover the interest is, take some time to pop that interest in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and mind map all the different ideas involved. When you have those down, you’ll start to see ways to connect the learning to traditional school subjects, and will be able to satisfy those grade requirements in ways that make sense and encourage your child’s unique curiosities.
Go With the Flow
Not every day is going to feel like magic. There will be moody mornings. There will be push-backs in the figuring out dynamics of this new teacher/mom-student/child relationship if your child has been learning outside the home before attempting homeschooling. The beautiful thing about learning at home is that you have so much more freedom for what your days will look like.
If it’s turning out to be a hard day and everyone is getting on each other's nerves, or feeling some strong emotions (no doubt there will be those days in this current global situation), drop the lesson and make cupcakes. Go for a long walk in nature. Let go of control of the situation and remember the most important part is your relationship with your children. The rest will follow in good time.
Every day is a new day, and when you’re leading the way for your child, you have the power to give them the pauses they need that might not be possible in a class of 20-something students who are all on different pages. Spend your Wednesday watching old movies if you need to. It’s okay!
Find Outside Supports
You don’t have to be on your own in this. Yes, you’re the leading guide in this educational journey, but you don’t have to have all the answers.
Sign your child up for a virtual art class. Enroll them in an outdoor adventure club that meets every so often. Make plans for other important family members and friends to spend time sharing their own talents and knowledge with your child, if you can.
You will never have all the answers and all the skills, but you are a smart individual who knows what your child needs, and you will figure out ways of meeting those needs as they change and grow.
I believe in you! You can do this. Just know you’re not alone, and reach out when you need it.
Hannah Spray is a licensed Early Childhood Educator with a passion for sharing with others. She loves to inspire others by using her voice through her writing on her personal blog - TheBigToDoList.com - and various other publications, her teaching and childcare experiences, and her artistic endeavours as a photographer and creative. Unexpectedly homeschooling her own Grade 2 child due to the pandemic, she has seen a need for Canadian parents like her to have better and more affordable access to toys and tools that support learning. In response to this, she created a new early educational and homeschooling supply shop online specifically with Canadian families in mind. Visit www.LearnAtHomeSchool.ca today to see what’s in store to support your journey of learning at home.