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Homeschool Survival Tips

I know I’m not the only mom who feels like we’ve been in quarantine for about five years. Lol.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been feeling the effects of COVID-19 for over six months, and one thing that hasn’t changed is the role of a Mom.

Moms wear so many hats and keep the home running like a well-oiled machine, either as a working or stay-at-home mom. The responsibilities are the same.

With schools remaining closed in most states, mothers have faced and continue to face choosing their careers or staying home to school and take care of their children.

Although childcare centers and some school districts are open, families face the risk of exposing their children to COVID or guiding them through distant learning at home.

According to a survey conducted by Flexjobs.com, 43% of mothers reported that “their employment status has remained the same during the pandemic, 17% quit their jobs.”

What if you were one of the 17% of mothers who had to quit their job to care for and facilitate virtual learning for their children at home?

Full-time homeschooling moms are already familiar with the challenges of schooling at home, but what about moms who find themselves in this new role due to the pandemic?

My husband and I have been interested in homeschooling for a while, but we wanted our boys to experience a few years of school before transitioning. And it just so happened that because of the shutdown, we were able to “practice” homeschooling and get a feel for what the future holds as a homeschooling family.

Our experience during quarantined homeschool was great, so we proceeded to go full force with distance learning homeschooling for this school year.

Homeschool Survival Tips

Establish a routine

Children thrive on routine. Draft your homeschool schedule and plan out ideas for daily activities. Your plan should include information such as – start date, a tentative daily schedule, curriculum materials, and a schedule for outsourced or enrichment programs (tutoring, small group co-ops, etc.). Your routine does not have be perfect at the beginning, but it’s good to have a plan. Write your plan down or have it printed and make sure it’s easily accessible. Make adjustments to your routine based on what works for you and your family.

Get enough rest

I don’t know about you, but I’m not myself without at least six hours of sleep every night! When I get enough sleep, I have more patience to handle the surprises and difficulties the day throws at me. And don’t get started with handling tantrums and conflicts between the children during the day…phew! It’s challenging to stay focused when you’re not well-rested. Also, I’m not a fan of coffee. I get headaches from when I drink caffeinated beverages, so I try my best to get enough rest every night.

Are you sleep-deprived and looking for ways to get a good night rest? 

I use the Sound Easy Sound Conditioner to drift off into sleep land quicker. It has been a staple in my household since my boys were babies. We keep one in the bedroom hallway for the boys and I keep one on my nightstand. It is soothing and helps create an ideal environment for restful sleep.

Be flexible (with your time, yourself, and your children)

I can honestly say having a rigid schedule does not work for us. Hubby already told me I was too rigid with wanting to start at 8:00 am every day, but I was too hardheaded to yield to his advice. But boy, did I learn the hard way! My motto now is ‘as long as the work gets done.” I believe structure trumps following a schedule. 

By schedule, I’m referring to scheduling a start time, lunchtime, break times, play times, and end times. I don’t plan how long we take on each subject either. However, I save independent subjects such as writing and spelling to the end of the day since only partial supervision is needed for those subjects.

Some days we start as early as 8:30 am, and some days at 10:00 am. For my twin boys in the second grade, we complete three subjects (Bible, Arithmetic, and Phonics/Language) in the morning and take a 20-minute break. We then complete another two subjects (Reading and History or Art or Health – depending on the day of the week) after lunch and “recess.” Then they complete their spelling and writing to end the school day.

Accept that every child is different

Among the many lessons I have learned in my years of being an educator is that every child is different and has different needs. Although it is challenging to differentiate instruction in a classroom of 25 plus students, I know my children well and understand their needs. I can adapt when one child needs more time or help and assign more challenging tasks to the other. This structure helps to reduce distractions, just like in a classroom setting.

As a WAHM, taking breaks is helpful to sneak in a bit of work here and there. You can also decide on a cut-off time every day and use the weekend to catch up. The distance learning program we use is very flexible and it gives us a full year to complete a grade level, which reduces the pressure to complete the curriculum by a set deadline. Find a great program and choose your own pace.

Get outside and get active

I don’t think anyone likes to be cooped up indoors every day. Children need time outdoors, and so do you! If possible, take a walk or jog with a friend or alone. I am a believer in me-time. We all need time to reflect and process our thoughts without distractions.

Is finding time an issue for you when it comes to getting alone time? 

Try going for a walk in the early AM when your children are still in bed. For example, get up 30 minutes before your children and enjoy the fresh morning breeze and alone time.

Take breaks

Trust me; there will be times when you need to walk away from school work and come back at some other time. 

Heck, sometimes you will need to take a nap during the day. 

I’ve been there. Give the children a 30-minute break, take a quick nap on the couch, and return with a fresh mind.

Other times, your child might be tired or become frustrated with learning. Please do yourself a favor and give them a break.

Reduce distractions

Comfortable headphones are a must because my children are easily distracted and want to look at each other’s computer screens.

If possible, separate all your children into individual spaces/corners or arrange their desks so they can not easily see what the other is doing. My twins are also super competitive and try to outdo each other while completing their work. 

For this reason, I separate them when completing seatwork of any kind.

Take advantage of weekends

Who said school work is only for weekdays?

Some days we take advantage of getting a few subjects done over the weekend if we are behind due to recreational activities or outsourced lesson times.

Get organized

Separate everyone’s books and pull worksheets on the weekends. Since I used pre-made workbooks, I detach the pages from the workbooks on the weekends and have them ready for the week. 

I also use dry-erase boards and bulletin boards to keep track of work that needs to be completed or organized.

Divide and conquer

When you work, school, and live in the same space, messes will happen. 

My cleaning mantra in our home is “we made the mess together, we clean the mess together.” The key to dividing and conquering is to ensure that everyone is assigned responsibilities in the home. I created a chores chart for the kiddos, and it’s their job to make sure their daily chores are completed. Their chores include loading and unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen floor, wiping down the kitchen countertops, and cleaning the kitchen table.

Was I scared they won’t clean to my standard? Yep! Was I nervous that they’ll break a few dishes? Absolutely! But you’ve got to accept imperfection and let them try, learn, and improve through the process.

On the weekend, they help with cleaning other areas of the house, clean their rooms, and sort and fold their laundry.

Cook in bulk

Cooking in bulk has saved me a lot of headache in the last few years. Before cooking in bulk, I was under the impression that my kiddos would detest eating the meal twice a week! Little did I know that they did not mind. I started cooking at least double every meal with this realization, which cut down how often I cook. Less time cooking means I have more time to dedicate to other things, catch up on work or just relax during the evening hours.

Be consistent and stick to what works

My final tip is to do what works and to be consistent. Every homeschool family’s life and schedule are not the same. Don’t be too hard on yourself because Family A starts school at 7:30 am, and you start at 10:00 am. Do what works for you and stick to it! Disregard the Joneses.

Do what works for you and stick to it. Disregard the Joneses.

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