It can be hard to keep up right now. So many day-to-day decisions that have been altered and that can leave us all feeling a bit disoriented. Some days I am right there with you! I have not offered up many blog posts since my mother passed earlier this year and because of the craziness of COVID life changes, I was choosing to be more family focused. As an act of self-care I was choosing to decrease my irons-in-the-fire and focus on my primary Clinical Herbalist work that is keeping me busy.
But with all the questions and concerns people are having about their kids going back to school on a reduced schedule or possibly choosing to homeschool them, I have decided that this is my forte, this is my area of expertise so to speak. For this blog post I am going to be bringing a life coach perspective to help you gain your own perspective on the coming school year.
In my opinion, my goal as a parent is to provide my children the best life that I can, while being a contributing member of society and maintaining my own personal needs. Does that sound like your goals as well? If so, we will be working from that framework.
If we stop, pause, and breathe we can take a moment to try to get into a proactive rather than reactive position given the challenges ahead of us. I am not going to try to be sunshine and rainbows here as dismissing our reality is not helpful. But I am going to try to keep us thinking of our challenges as not solely negative challenges. So let’s take a step back and get our minds thinking about the school year ahead. This post I am going to focus on those choosing to homeschool. Although those faced with the likely 3-2 schedule may benefit as well.
What is your biggest challenge in your mind? I can guess what they might be. Trying to work and homeschool your kids? Not sure how to keep your kids’ education on track? Not sure how to facilitate their learning such as choosing the right curriculum?
Trying to work and homeschool your kids?
As someone who works a full-time job, I understand this is a challenge. It takes dedication to both your job and your child to make it work. As a coach, I don’t have the answers for you but here are some things we should get thinking about. Is your job flexible in terms of hours you work or location that you work? What are you support structures? As Americans we love to be self-reliant but this is a time for interdependency. Interdependency is a sign of maturity and not weakness. So who is in your network? Can your partner/spouse, if you have one, flex their schedule? Do you have family that can support your efforts? Do you have neighbors or friends that you can cooperatively support?
Can you afford some paid support? The answers to this question should be a wide brainstorm.
Leave no stone unturned. Radical times demand radical thinking.
Now that you have some idea of the people that can support you, then we need to think of what that might look like. Maybe you work allows you to work in the office 3 days a week 10 hour days and 2 days a week from home for 5 hours. Not everyone will be this lucky, not everyone has this type of job, but many do. Workplaces know that if they can be flexible they will need to be this year. So don’t hesitate to reach out and ask them. Now what about those support structures? I have found that a couple focused days of work can make all the difference. Is there a friend that you can swap kids with? Having even one ally like this can reduce your days with your kiddos by half. These are win/win dynamics for both of you!
Not sure how to keep your kids’ education on track?
This really depends on your children’s ages. Generally as homeschoolers, many of us feel that younger elementary ages are best served with free play, reading time, and time in nature. Personally I look to some of the Scandinavian countries that don’t focus on formal education until the age of 7 and their children are in no way “behind” academically. For parents of younger kids the benefit is that classroom time is not usually all school time so it doesn’t need to be at home either. There is more oversight needed but it is less intense subjects. Together I’d be more than happy to walk through how to make it work with your learning style. At its most basic a simple morning might mean audiobooks for an hour, math manipulatives or worksheets on the table, followed by free craft time, a pre-arranged “learning center” for slightly older children and free play for younger children while you try to get some work done. Now it is lunch time! If your child is over the age of 5 they can be increasingly tasked with this. A charcuterie board is EASY and kids love to do it! Afternoon can be free-play or drawing cards for a senior citizens home.
For older elementary aged kids there will be a need to focus on some subjects, unless you are choosing to unschool, so you will likely need to carve out some school focused time in either the morning, afternoon, or evening. Choose what works for your kids and you. Let go of traditional ideas of what school must look like. We have historically “done school” about 2-3 hours 3 days a week and my children are now 5th and 7th graders and are in NO WAY behind.
To meet your children’s educational needs some parents may want to choose online options that keep their children busy, but with a bit of flow you can make anything work depending on your goals. For me, I love the time I spend teaching and learning with my kids. It is time I will never get back in our lives so I choose a more hands-on approach to learning. A dedicated couple hours a day is more than sufficient when you have "teacher" to student ratios like you do in a home environment.
For junior high and high school learners there is the challenge that the subjects are harder to teach and they need more regimented learning time, but the upshot is that they can also be very self-directed learners at that stage. If our goal is to teach our kids life skills then learning how to plan their day and their time might be THE most important thing you teach your child. Invest in a planner that THEY like. There are online planners that I can recommend as well as basic notebook scheduling where each morning you write down what they are expected to accomplish that day, until they get the idea of how to do that themselves.
Not sure how to facilitate their learning, such as choosing the right curriculum?
This question is where many are focused right now. There are so many choices. I think it all comes back to understanding your goals for your children and their learning style. Also an honest assessment of how much you want to interact with your child and how much “work” you want to do. This will be a unique decision for each family that we could talk through or that you can talk through with a homeschooling friend that you might have. Consider all-in-ones or an eclectic mix. Consider de-schooling for a while. Consider child-led learning. Consider unit studies. Consider your child’s unique strengths and motivations.
Maybe this is the year they get to focus on watching YouTube painting classes whenever they want to and creating art to their heart’s content. Maybe this is the year that they get to write a book, explore nature, learn to code, train for a marathon, build a tiny house, learn to cook, volunteer. Remember many of the most important things we learn in life do not come from books.
I would encourage you to think of the whole child. Given the stress of all that is going on your child might need a different rhythm for learning this year. They might need more down time, more parent time, more fun time, more outdoor time, or more creative time. Try to honor your child’s needs this year while honoring your own. If we simply place our children in front of a computer program all day and expect them to learn and have a fulfilling year then we are greatly missing the opportunity we are given to build our family bonds this year. I encourage you to think about how you might make this year a special year to remember and not just a year of overwhelm or drudgery.
If you would like help navigating these complex discussions for your family please contact me! Coaching sessions can be scheduled at katebodmanncoaching.com. Your first 25 minute discussion is FREE!
Feel free to share this blog, ask questions in the comments, and stay tuned for future posts!
Hello! I am Kate! Through this blog I hope to share simple health tips and positive support to help you achieve the healthiest YOU that you can be!