We started up our homeschooling curriculum this week, so this one is for all my unexpectedly homeschooling parents! And, OK, the ones who planned it too.
This pandemic craziness means a lot more of y’all have either had to or chosen to have school at home when you might never have expected it. Whether you’re going full-on homeschooling or just trying to juggle your home routine with online learning, listen up, because in a way, five years ago I was right where you are.
My son was in elementary school when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s. For a while, we worked to get his IEP (Individualized Education Plan, if you haven’t had to deal with that!) in place, brought in an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist (ABA…do you get how quickly the acronyms add up yet?!), tried to do everything we could to make brick-and-mortar school work.
But we realized that thankfully, we were in a position that I could walk away from my 9 to 5 to finish out that school year. We didn’t realize it wasn’t going to be just that year!
A rough transition
I hated those first four to five months, and so did my son! It was frustrating and it was hard, not just on him but on me. I had this structured mindset. Things had to be on schedule. You had to have this perfectly organized schoolroom. All those things you have in school, I thought I had to make sure it happened at home.
Let me just say that I never, never, ever thought I’d be a homeschool mama. I think when you’re raised in a brick-and-mortar school yourself, that’s what you’re used to! I didn’t know any other homeschooling families. The idea never occurred to me. When it’s time to go to kindergarten, you go, you stay in school, then go to college if that’s your jam and if not you get a job. I just thought that’s what you did.
So when we made the transition, it was ROUGH, y’all. I didn’t allow myself a lot of flexibility in that first year, and that was why we both struggled and we both hated it. There was this underlying fear, too, that I was going to fail him and let him down, and that if he were to ever go back, he wouldn’t be up to par with where the other children were. I worried about how we were going to socially adjust because he was used to playing with other children and I felt like we were taking that away from him.
Learning to let go
But once I started to relent and really see how my son learns, I realized that I may not be able to control the daily schedule or structure like I thought I would, but I actually get to control much more. I can control the whole way we approach school! When you realize that, when you give yourself grace, that’s when the fun really starts. I wish I had seen this from the start, but it is what it is.
My son is now in middle school, and he loves the flexibility of homeschooling. He loves working on things at his own pace, alone, and he learns better when he’s not forced to try to be an early bird. He loves technology and gaming, so we get him to nurture those skills, learning code. We use an online curriculum, and in addition to following that, I have certified teachers I trust occasionally review his work.
All of that said, we’re all in the same boat with COVID-19. Now, a lot of things are completely different. There’s so much socializing available for homeschooled kids normally that you never think about, like programs at libraries, co-ops that get together for field trips, clubs, and events, Saturday group activities, or local parks and businesses that have events and rates just for homeschoolers. Now? All that’s gone. #dangit 😭We’re having to find other ways to actively engage.
Sometimes that might even mean logging in for a video chat with other kids, and there is a difference absolutely, that energy is not necessarily the same, but there’s still interaction and engagement.
Even with those new challenges, though, homeschooling has turned out to be amazing for us. It’s made my son a more independent learner, and it’s showed me there are lots of things that are a part of learning that I never even realized. Going to the grocery store can totally be considered part of the homeschooling curriculum! Kids can learn to calculate the budget, plan meals, shop, cook for themselves… Now, every time we go and he buys something with his money he’s like, “Oh, yeah, I gotta add tax.” That’s part of preparing them for life. It’s such a kinetic part of learning that they don’t realize that you’re teaching, which is my preferred kind of teaching!
Like everything else I’ve been talking about recently, I had to learn to find the balance between providing structure and letting go. Homeschooling has helped me give myself a little more grace, and trust myself and my child more to figure out what’s best for us. So if you’re stressing about these big changes, I am with you! This doesn’t even go into balancing our own work in there, especially when our children are younger. But there are great opportunities, too, and I just want to encourage y’all to give yourselves permission to be flexible and embrace whatever good this can bring you.
For one thing, we started back on our homeschooling this week, and the first day we started at 2 pm! 🤷 You do you, y’all.
Here are some helpful links for you to check out:
https://www.ixl.com/ is the program we use.
https://www.brainpop.com/ is helpful for younger ages (we use to use it)
https://timberdoodle.com/ supplemental for some of our topics
https://www.education.com/resources/?msclkid=50284bb9edef112ac573149597090aa3&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search%20-%20Homeschool%20-%20BMM&utm_term=%2Bfree%20%2Bhomeschool%20%2Bresources&utm_content=Homeschool%20Resources some free games/resources.