Homeschooling Tips from a Former Teacher: Your Questions Answered
Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Oooh, 2020. It's been a doozy, right?! So, how can we take an already crazy year and make it even crazier? Let's toss some homeschooling into the mix!
Whether you're sending your kiddos back to school full time, opting for a hybrid model of some in-person learning & some virtual, or making the decision to homeschool full time, it's brought up a bunch of questions from those of us who work from home. With an education background, I've been able to put my teacher hat back on, which helps to answer some of the questions, but I promise you --we're sorting things out over here, too. My kids look at me like I have three heads when we have our "learning time". I already know what they're probably thinking, "Um, wait. So, YOU are the teacher?! That can't be right!"
So, let's jump into some of the common questions I've heard from moms, and maybe my teaching experience can be a tiny bit helpful as you get things started for the school year.
How can I work from home and homeschool my children?
This depends, of course, on the number of hours you are working during the day. It's certainly a bit easier if you have some flexibility in your schedule or you work part time. I would recommend creating a daily routine. Kids love routine. In fact, they thrive on it. So, whether you work in the morning and homeschool in the afternoons, or vice versa, find something that works for you and your kids. This might require a bit of patience at first. You might try a few things and they all fail miserably. Just be sure to stick with it until you find something that works for everyone.
For us, we have found that free time in the mornings is best. My two preschoolers are able to play on their own, have a little screen time (gasp! I know, right!), and do their own thing before things get a bit more structured. This also allows their mommy to check her e-mail, follow up with anything high on the VA priority list, and drink her morning cup of joe. From there, we move on to school time with breaks for snack and lunch tucked in between activities. Will this work forever? Not a chance! But it's what works for now, so we're gonna roll with it.
How do I decide on a curriculum? Or not?
Again, so much of this year is going to be finding what works best for you and your family. We have decided to try an all-in-one curriculum for the first month of school to see how things go. Could I sit over here and write my own lesson plans from scratch? Could I piece together activities from a variety of sources and create something truly amazing? Sure! I know I could rock this! However, I also know that I should be realistic with the amount of time that would take me to plan. So, something that is ready to go with all the activities already planned, book recommendations to go with a theme, STEAM activities, music, art...and just all the things...is what will work best for us. I'm not a licensed teacher anymore. I'm a virtual assistant. My husband works from home and we value the limited amount of quality time we spend together (although it looks a little different than it used to...thank you, Covid!). The curriculum we have chosen will take the guess work, the hours of planning, and big questions out of the equation ("Are they getting what they need to be ready for kindergarten?").
Which curriculum are you choosing?
Our choice (for the first month, anyway) is Mother Goose Time. This research based curriculum is one that seems to include activities my kids will enjoy and comes to your house, with everything you need for the month. You can renew your curriculum plan monthly or pick and choose which months and themes you'd like to use with your little ones. It's geared toward ages 2 and a half through 5, so it's appears to be great for my 2 and a half and 4 and a half year old. With this said, we are only trying it for a month to see how we like it. If it's a "no go", we will likely check out some of my Plan B options and take bits and pieces from each of these--and maybe even supplement with some ideas of my own.
On my list of "Plan B Options":
Blossom and Root: I love that this is a nature based curriculum and I keep hearing wonderful things about it.
All About Reading: Getting my little ones excited about reading and teaching phonics is such a priority for me right now.
Handwriting Without Tears: I remember learning how to write this way and would probably throw it in the mix, just because, but would also incorporate some "fun" writing activities to keep it from getting monotonous.
Singapore Math: This is another one I keep coming across in my homeschool groups. Has anyone tried this curriculum? Share your thoughts with me!
Books, books, and more books: Science and social studies are best taught via children's literature!
Bottom line-- This year is going to be a lot of trial and error. This week, one thing will work and the next week, it just might not. Treat yourself with a ton of grace and stay flexible. We are all in this thing together, momma.
If you find this blog useful, please reach out to me and I can make this an ongoing series with tips and lessons that we learn along the way. While I have taught hundreds of second and third graders, I've definitely never taught my own children (in the structured classroom/homeschool kind of way). I'm here learning along with you, and would love to hear what works for you, too! Happy First Week of School, everyone! Let's do this thing!