16 March 2020

Homeschooling Suddenly

homeschooling suddenly

Hey friends!
The world is a bit frantic these days, and although I'm new to homeschooling myself, I still have a bit more of a leg up than many who have been suddenly thrust into the role of teacher at home. So I just wanted a space to gather some thoughts and help for everyone.

STEP 1: Take a deep breath.
This is a season, and we will see it through. Give yourself a bit of grace. 

Remember that our littles are always watching. It's so important to have a level head during times of trial so that our littles can see a healthy way to weather life's storms. Also, take care of yourself. If this is a time where you really are stressing out, take a shower, take a bath, call a friend, find a closet to hide in and eat a chocolate bar! It's ok to take some you time to decompress and process what life throws at you. If you aren't taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, then you won't be at your best to take care of the littles that depend on you. 

STEP 2: Start slowly. 
School doesn't have to look like workbooks and desks and No. 2 pencils. If you start digging into the homeschool community, you'll find a whole huge range of ideas on schooling. And the best thing? There's no wrong way! We have homeschoolers who play outside in the dirt all day, and others who do desk work and worksheets, and others who do everything online. We have homeschoolers who sit at a formal desk, who gather round the family table, who sit on the couch or bed to work. It all works. Let me say that again. It. All. Works. So no matter how you choose to impart wisdom to your littles, know that you're doing it right! 

Just spend time with your kiddos and do simple stuff...
  • read together
  • take a walk together
    • (take it up a notch and do a nature study by discussing all the floral and fauna you see!)
  • watch a movie together 
    • (even have your little practice their narration skills afterwards and tell you the plot and characters and what they remember!)
  • watch an educational movie together
  • play a game together 
    • (hello logic and problem solving skills!)
  • do a puzzle together 
    • (hello more logic skills...)
  • kick a ball outside
    • (can we say motor skills?!)
  • cook together
    • (yes, we're bringing back the long-lost art of Home Ec!)
  • play Legos/Duplos together
    • (can we say engineering?)
  • do MadLibs together
    • (easy grammar lesson!)
  • do laundry together
    • (life skills! Pour the cap of soap into the washer. Unload the dryer into the laundry basket. Teach how to fold pants or hang up shirts.)
  • love on each other

STEP 3: Do some research. 
Like I mentioned earlier, there are SO SO many methods of homeschooling that it can be EXTREMELY overwhelming. It's taken me about 2 years to sift through all the knowledge out there and find what will work for our family. And you know what? Halfway through our first year schooling, I threw most of my plans out the window! I got rid of one of the main curriculums that we were using because it was just not a good fit for our homeschool rhythm nor what interested my girls. 

Now, again, don't worry about choosing something that is "right," since, as we established above, there is NO wrong way to homeschool. So just pick things that sound FUN! I know many of you don't have the luxury of time to do a lot of research. Luckily, again over the past 2+ years, my Pinterest game has been strong. And now YOU get to benefit from it! 

Here's a few of my Pinterest boards- I have a bunch more all labeled with "Homeschool" and then different subjects, so feel free to go browse until your heart's content! Or at least until you find a month or two's worth of pins to try, hehe. 

STEP 4: Take advantage of discounts & freebies.

Due to the current state of affairs, many homeschooling mamas are offering up their resources for free and/or deeply discounted! Google has brought us up close and personal to many museums around the globe via virtual tours. More virtual resources across the country (and world!) are becoming more available each day as well. I've listed some favorites below! We are a Christian, early elementary family that loves nature- so many of our curriculum suggestions align with that, just as an FYI!

ALSO- Be sure to check Facebook! Many cities/communities have their own homeschooling Facebook groups and are welcoming new members with open arms.

  • An Intentional Life - great FREE online workshops about homeschooling (for parents!)
  • Game Night in a Bag - family fun FREEBIE from The Waldock Way
  • Morning Time Plans - a month of FREE "Morning Basket" weekly lesson plans, including prayer and hymns, poetry, music and art, nature study, math, and picture books. All resources are available online with clickable links. A truly easy, relaxed curriculum to cover the basics while school's out!
  • A Gentle Feast - more Morning Time resources, try 2-weeks free
  • 30 Days of Us: family bonding - FREE printable to bring your family together and give you something to do!
  • I've put together a post that is all basic PLUG AND PLAY curriculum ideas
  • Usborne Books & More - their QuickLinks website has a TON of subjects with lots of activities to do online and printout at home, they have a weekly email that sends out themed activities as well

Subject-Specific Resources
My list of favorite resources is growing daily and more and more options come online! So to make it a bit less overwhelming (and this page a bit more concise), I've moved resources for each subject into their own pages. Each page has additional curriculumsunit studies, virtual field tripsfree printables, and discounts

Affordable Curriculum Options
  • Dollar Tree - I was amazed how many great workbooks and resources they have for early elementary learning! Also great for manipulatives, school supplies, art supplies, and seasonal stuff 
  • BrainQuest - Most of us remember doing their flashcards as kids, but they make workbooks for all the grades now! We've used these our first year of homeschooling, super easy and pretty fun. Buy on Amazon or Target
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ - these streaming services have videos on just about every subject you can imagine! tons of opportunities to have a fun day snuggling on the couch while expanding the mind, ask them a few comprehension questions afterwards to work on narration skills!
  • AmblesideOnline - FREE K-12 full year curriculum in the the Charlotte Mason style, focusing on God and nature, provides a weekly schedule, booklist, and resources are linked to online, they've even included an Emergency Lesson Plan for those starting out quickly
  • Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool - complete K-12 Christian online curriculum for FREE
  • Scholastic Learn at Home - free site for families and teachers of PreK-6th+ grades to keep up learning
  • PBS LearningMedia - videos for every subject and every grade
  • PBS Kids has a new weekday newsletter and tons of online resources and free educational app (which we love)! Their Google Drive has educational activities specifically to do at home. 
  • Blossom and Root - 30% off through end of April (with code: sprout30), full secular nature-based curriculums from toddler - 3rd grade, also affordable Book Seeds mini literature-based nature units could be their own mini curriculum, full curriculum prices vary but the sale helps!
  • Homeschool Garden Morning Time plans - just throw in an English and Math workbook and you've got a full curriculum, each 4-6 week course is $30

Virtual Field Trips

STEP 5: Write this down. 

So now that you've gathered your materials and Pinterest boards, it's time to put pen to paper and make a plan! Take it easy on yourself- set expectations low, but plan to succeed! What does that mean? 

  1. Don't over plan. Aim for English & Math everyday and maybe one other subject 2-3 times a week. Tis the perfect start to ease into homeschooling, and completely attainable! Heck, some weeks still look like that for me! If you don't over plan, you'll have a better chance of feeling accomplished because you'll have completed all your goals for the week! If you feel accomplished, this will go a long way towards your mental health in continuing forward week after week.
  2. Now maybe it's time to add a bit more to your week. Print out a plain weekly calendar, and jot down other areas that interest you and your kiddos that you'd like to pursue. Maybe add in 1-2 art projects per week, or even just a simple craft each day. Keep it simple and attainable.
  3. Now you're getting comfortable and confident. Maybe you're 2-3 weeks in and getting a into a groove, or you at least have a better idea what is realistic for you to accomplish. Maybe you need MORE to entertain your child all day. Good! Keep them excited about learning, and these weeks will fly by! 
  4. Perhaps try loop schedules! So you've got English and Math everyday, or maybe every other day. Then you could loop Nature walks, Poetry readings, Bible study, and Spanish lessons. You can either plan to only do 1-2 of those each day, OR you can plan to keep moving through that list each day until your kids start losing interest for the day (or you need to start dinner). Then you just keep looping through those Loop Schedule subjects however works for you! It's a great system that can provide structure while still being flexible. 

STEP 6: Welcome to an amazing community. 
I love our homeschooling community- whether it's local groups, Insta-friends, or FB virtual groups. You'll find so many cheerleaders and helping hands, just always there to support and encourage. My biggest hope for you is that you enjoy your time homeschooling. Enjoy the extra time spent with your kiddos watching them grow and their eyes light up as they learn something new. It can be trying, and exhausting sometimes, but oh so rewarding. I'll be praying for all you new homeschooling mamas (and papas, and grandmamas, etc!) hehe. Feel free to reach out if you need anything!

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