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Homeschooling for the Non-homeschool Family

It’s definitely business as usual within our home.

We homeschool, which means I have all the sharpened pencils, paper, and saved curriculum just waiting to be printed out! Not much has changed since COVID-19 reared its ugly head into our day-to-day lives.

While our life has not been completely rearranged, I understand that there are many families waking up this Monday wondering what they are going to do for the next two to three weeks.

My first bit of advice: do not replace mom hat with teacher hat.

You are mom, first. Always. Many of us have been driven home to now solely live-out and focus on the greatest calling from God—Mom. Yes, it is completely possible to be Mom and teach at the same time. Try just sitting with your kids and talking to them. Talk to them about what is going on and why the days will be different. Remind your little ones there is no need for fear or worry. Teach them that yes, the family will stay home and not just treat it as extra vacation days because that is what our government is asking us. We will be respectful of their guidelines to keep everyone as safe as we can.

Then after a day or so of reconnecting, it’s time for “formal” learning. I use the word “formal” incredibly loose because homeschool is not school! Homeschool is paced by you and your kids, not a test. It is one-on-one and grouped together. It is multiple snack times, outside time (I hope you’re having good weather where you are!), and nap/siesta time. Homeschool can be done with as little as possible.

My second bit of advice: keep lessons short and offer a wide feast.

We’re talking 20-minute lessons and this includes setting up and cleaning up. Subjects range from scripture, Bible, language arts, math, science, history, natural history, nature, literature, art, music, and more. The list can be daunting, but if you can do just two things every single day make it language arts (writing and reading) and math. Just within these two subjects, there is an almost never-ending and fun list you can do with your kids no matter what age.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Do you own a book? Read it aloud. Is your child a good reader? Let them read to you. After you read aloud or they read, have your child narrate what just happened. If you have a child 8 years and older ask them a couple of questions, such as: what do you think will happen next? What do you like best about the character? Would you want to live where the character lives, why or why not? Delve a little deeper.

Copy work for writing and guess what? We have the best book to copy from – the Bible. Use copy work time as also a time to help memorize scripture, discussing the scripture, discussing who God is through the scripture. Three subjects in one.

MATH

Don’t start printing out every math sheet you can find online. Time to get out all your apples and oranges! Counting. Simple counting for the young ones. I’m sure you still know simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Use your fruit or whatever else you have to do a few problems with your older children. High School children doing math you’ve never heard of? Have them teach you!

For younger children, don’t forget shapes are part of the subject. Do a scavenger hunt of simple shapes first and then move on to pentagons, hexagons, and octagons. The more you and your children become aware of shapes within your home they’ll start jumping out at you left and right. Same with outside! If the weather is nice where you are, go outside and explore all of the shapes God placed outside. The more you look the more aware you will be of God’s orderly creation.

Cooking. Cooking is a great, fun, and yummy way to figure out fractions, multiply, and divide. You’ve got to eat dinner so make it a family affair with each child taking one part of the recipe and figuring out how to double or triple their part.

Your non-school day should be done by noon.

Time for lunch and then nap/siesta time. Parents, I cannot stress enough how much this is needed. It may be a fight at first, but quiet time from each other is so important when you are at home with each other and there is no end to the quarantine. Nap is great, but if your kids are past this stage then have this be screen time. Turn on a movie. Independent reading time. Coloring. Building blocks. Whatever it may be, but it has to be quiet for at least an hour. I use our nap/siesta time to catch up on budgeting, homeschool prep for the next day, or reading a book of my own. Do not skip out on this otherwise, it’ll be an early bedtime for all.

A great resource to check out is Ambleside Online.

They explain all subjects, scheduling, provide links, and have an amazing section just for homeschooling during times of emergency. I highly suggest taking a look because they are so helpful. The AmblesideOnline Helping Hand Emergency Learning Plan even offers a five-day schedule. All the work is done for you! Check it out at AmblesideOnline AO-HELP.

Above all things, remember love.

Love your children even if they decide they’re not going to listen. Allow them freedom in how they learn. If your son needs to walk around the room while you’re reading, let him. If your daughter wants to weave a potholder while you explain the Bible lesson, it’s okay. Schooling at home equals freedom. Freedom to base everything on God, your faith. Freedom from time restrictions. Freedom from hitting this milestone or that milestone. Freedom to be outside when you decide instead of the bell. Freedom to eat cookies while you read a poem about a snake in a lunchbox.

Value this time God has given to you. It is a blessing. A blessing to remember God’s definition of family and live it out with thanksgiving, joy, and reverence. A blessing to re-learn servanthood to each other. It is a blessing to know and live out God’s way of love and we can do this without all the distractions of appointments, errands, and the hours upon hours of separation.

So, perhaps the first verse you set out to memorize as a family is 1 Corinthians 13.4-5:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (English Standard Version)

Memorize, meditate, practice this verse over and over again. Then, when the word is given and we emerge from our homes with urgency, our first words and actions to friends, family, co-workers, and peers are love.

Jennifer Jahn is a pastor’s wife and homeschool mom. She loves to have one-on-one conversations, chai lattes, and enjoys sharing all things homeschool. Every day, Jennifer gives her day to Jesus and asks to find meaning in the mundane. Jesus is in the dishes, laundry, and her children whether they get through a math lesson or not.

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