I have been homeschooling my kids for 4 years. While I don’t know what it is like to be thrown into teaching at home without any warning (let alone the time to mentally prepare), I do know what it is like to be overwhelmed and afraid.
I know what it is like to hear a clock ticking in your head, telling you that you are running out of time and need to make important decisions right now.
I understand how it feels to be amid uncertainty, and just like you, I now know what it is like to be living through a pandemic.
Just to clarify, homeschooling while the world is closed is not normal.
Not being able to go to the library, play at the park, or visit the zoo is not normal. Keeping kids stuck in their houses is not normal.
Remote schooling is not normal, nor is it the same thing as traditional homeschooling.
Trying to work from home or moving around your schedule so you can keep your kids away from other people, including their friends and family, is not normal.
None of this is normal.
It is normal to be upset that you are being forced into something you never intended (or wanted) to do, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed by it all.
You have a lot on your shoulders. You are researching curriculum and feeling personally attacked by Pinterest and Instagram.
You are constantly reminding your kids to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and use enough soap–but not too much because it is hard to come by right now.
You are counting your TP rolls to see how many you have left. You are arming your family with hand sanitizer and DIY disinfecting wipes and face masks and vitamins, while they protest and roll their eyes at you.
You feel guilty because your kids have had too much take-out lately, but the online grocery slots have been full for weeks, and the last time you went into the grocery store someone yelled at your son for playing with his mask.
You are worried about how much screen time your kids have been getting, and how late you have been letting them stay up.
The laundry and dishes seem to have multiplied tenfold.
You’re working from home and/or constantly restructuring your schedule while wondering how you could possibly change it even more to accommodate a full school day every weekday.
All the little things you normally do not have to worry about during the day are adding up in your brain. Like lunches and craft supplies and a workspace and sibling fights and extra toilet paper and soap and dishes and so many messes.
Your mental load is too much.
I see you.
I can’t do anything about the TP shortage, and I wish I could do your grocery run for you, but what I can do is encourage you in this new homeschooling journey and hopefully help you feel a little lighter.
First things first, let us get something straight right now. You are uniquely qualified to teach your kids because they are yours.
No one knows them like you do, no one sees them like you do, and no one has more of a vested interest in their success than you do.
There is no one else who has the capability to be who you are to your kids. No one.
Those voices that you hear at night when you’re trying to go to sleep, you know the ones that tell you that you don’t have the patience or the talent or the brains to give your kids any kind of education? Those voices are liars.
You. Are. Capable.
Is homeschooling something you ever wanted to do? Maybe not.
Will it be hard at times? Yes.
Will you run out of patience on occasion (or often)? Likely.
Do your kids need hours of Pinterest worthy lessons and projects? NO.
Do they need you to recreate the school day at home and teach exactly like their teacher? No and No.
Can they use screens for learning and for the sake of your sanity? Abso-freaking-lutely!
Can they learn through play and regular life activities? Of course!!
Will your kids be permanently scarred because their parents were not 100% perfect during a global pandemic? NOPE!
Whether you realize it or not, your kids have been learning all kinds of lessons and skills from you since they were born. Think of all the things they already knew before they ever entered a school in the first place.
You did that!
And you did it without a classroom, or crazy planning, or perfection. You just taught them through life because that’s what parents do.
You are capable.
If you think that you’re going to have to recreate school at home every single day and live your life on a strict schedule that you must follow to the T, stop right there.
Freedom and flexibility are synonymous with homeschooling.
You may have whole weeks where you barely sit at the table to do lessons, but that doesn’t mean your kids won’t be learning anything. In my experience, some of the most successful and exciting homeschool moments happen outside of the house (or in 2020, outside of the kitchen).
You are not the Energizer bunny; you’re allowed to slow down sometimes and catch your breath, pandemic or not.
There will be days when you look at your kids and realize that schoolwork just is not happening today–that is OKAY! You are in charge! There will likely be some days when you just need to put tablets into their hands and go give yourself a break in your room for a little bit– do it!
There are no rules except for the ones you write. Although, you’re allowed to change those too.
The goal is for your kids to LEARN, not for them to have a perfect school day.
This situation we currently find ourselves in is far from ideal, but nevertheless, here we are. You can do this. Take it one step at a time–one subject at a time.
Start out slow.
Stay away from Pinterest and Instagram at first, do not compare yourself to what other parents are doing. No two families are the same, what works for them might not work for you and vice versa.
Besides, there is no trophy for being the most Instagram-able.
Everything new is hard in the beginning, but please don’t go in thinking it has to be hard forever.
Remember, none of this is normal and all the feelings you have are justified, but you will make it through.
Then you will look back and confirm what I already knew.
You are capable.