Written by: Kate DeSantis
Panic. That’s the feeling that overcame me once I made the decision to homeschool. When will I have time to make this happen? What will our schedule look like? How can I keep my toddler busy while I teach my older kids? Now that I am almost 10 years into homeschooling, I can’t imagine a better choice for my family and me. But as I think about all of the families thrust into homeschooling without time to plan or prepare, I remember that overwhelming feeling of responsibility. Let me share a few things that would have brought me peace in the midst of panic.
1. You DO have the patience to homeschool.
Every time I tell someone I homeschool, they say, “I would never have the patience for that!” I understand that response because it is hard to stay patient some days. Today I was reading a book aloud to my kids and my daughter broke into the Frozen II soundtrack, my oldest yelled at her and my middle child fell out of his chair and started crying. All of this happened before I read an entire paragraph. My get-it-done personality wants to push forward through the lesson, and I feel the frustration begin to mount. I have to gently remind myself that character building is one of the classes I teach. It’s the one that never ends and seems to interrupt each and every lesson. And that’s not so different from your everyday life, is it? You stop cooking dinner to handle an argument. You put down the phone because someone started crying. You’re used to juggling your kids’ craziness along with other responsibilities. You’ve already got what it takes to do this and do this well.
2. You don’t have to know everything they are going to learn before you get started.
I remember reading everything in advance and preparing endlessly for lessons only to get questions from my kids that I didn’t anticipate. I learned quickly that some of the joy of homeschooling is learning together. I still get the chance to say every day, “I don’t know. Let’s look it up. Where do you think we could find the answer to that question?” Google is their first answer every time, but we also think about other ways to find the answers. It gives them critical thinking and research skills AND gets you off to hook! Bottom line – If you have helped with homework, you can homeschool effectively.
3. You will have time to work, too.
I can’t imagine how overwhelmed you must feel at the prospect of working from home and teaching. School days go until 3:00 and it can be tempting to think that your kids should be homeschooled for that many hours a day. They don’t. I promise. My kids are done with school by noon or 1 at the latest – True story. I work from home and choose to spend the first hour or so in the morning catching up then I work all afternoon. Do I get interrupted 437 times? Yes. Absolutely. Do they sit on my lap during conference calls and ask me to police disagreements even when I wave wildly at the phone to show them I can’t talk? Yes. Absolutely. But over time they have learned that work time is important. My oldest even decided to launch his own business online and he “works” while I do. You never know what you are teaching your kids by modeling a good work ethic.
4. The schedule will change as your family and work needs change.
I love schedules. I love giving everything it’s own little place on the calendar. And that can be a great thing until I start getting very frustrated at my kids for not following my carefully planned out day. Over time, I’ve learned to adapt. My advice to you? Try a schedule and if it doesn’t work, try something else. There’s no failure here, just trial and error. Every homeschooling family I know does it differently but it’s nice to have a rough place to start. Here’s the schedule that works for us now, with a 6, 8, and 11 year old. I often have block scheduling in my head that looks like this:
1-2 Quiet Time (Everyone in their rooms with a book, puzzle or other quiet activity. I either work or spend some time reading.)
2-5 Free play/My work time
Here’s what the homeschooling time looks like:
- 9 AM – 9:30 Yoga or inspirational reading
We use Yoga Pretzels to get our minds focused on the day ahead. It’s fun and easy.
- 9:30-10 Read Aloud
If the schools have assigned specific chapter books, read those. If not, I would recommend the reading lists hereto find great books at your child’s level. The library app, Hoopla, integrates with the library system and is a great resource for ebooks.
- 10-11 Math
I work with my kids one at a time on math because my brain gets fried when they all ask questions at the same time. If you can handle that, then go for it. Usually my younger ones need to run around a bit by then so I start with my oldest and work my way down.
- 11-12 Language Arts
Same system for Language Arts – One kid at a time. My oldest can work independently so I
just check his work over during his turn.
- 12-12:30 Science/History
We alternate these because their read aloud is usually related to science or history. We love www.mysteryscience.com and Usborne Books for these subjects.
- 12:30 – 1 Lunch Time
My kids take turns cooking for each other and doing the dishes. This helps alleviate some of my workload and I use that time to get prepared for the work part of my day.
5. You are surrounded by an army of support.
You are going to mess up. You are going to lose it with your kids. I know I do. But you are not alone. We’re all in this together. I will be posting daily tips and going live every Monday and Friday at 1:30 to answer any questions you may have on www.facebook.com/homeschoolcrashcourse. I’ll also be posting on Instagram @homeschooling_crash_course. Feel free to send me any questions and I’ll do my best to help. You’ve got this!