The last few years, for the first time in 30 years, I have had time to myself with no kids at home during the day. Maddox and McCade have attended a public school and everyone else is either married or off at college. Prior to that, it seems I’d always had a baby at home or was homeschooling!
I can see now why my mom friends who didn’t home school asked, “Why home school when you can have a large chunk of time to yourself every day?” So, wow, I get it! I have been on both sides of having them home all day and having them gone most of the day.
Everything has shifted, and now we don’t have a choice. Everyone’s at home doing this new thing. I know it’s hard, but I also know you can do this!
This is our time in history! We have the honor of protecting and serving others by staying home.
I wanted to give you a few tips on what we did as a homeschooling family and what we’re doing now as a home learning family.
Start your day doing what you need to be able to pour out all day long. Whether it’s prayer, reading scripture, exercising, drinking coffee, etc., do what you need to fill yourself up so you’re ready for the day.
Make a plan. Create a to-do list or a general schedule for the day. You won’t go anywhere if you don’t have a direction. Do this at night before bed or first thing in the morning.
Let go of the hope of your house being neat and tidy. It is being very lived in right now. You will be exhausted if you try doing it all yourself, and it’s ideal for your kids to learn valuable life skills. You will be exhausted if you don’t empower and equip your children to help. Make a list of chores and assign age-appropriate jobs.
Devote specific time for home learning and give your full attention to your children. If you plan on doing several other things while they are doing their schoolwork, it can be frustrating. Example: I would throw in a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher and get distracted. The next thing I knew the kids were outside playing. When our full attention is focused on one thing, the one thing gets done more efficiently—and that leaves time for other things.
When you or your child gets frustrated with the schoolwork, take a break! Have your kids run outside, run laps in the house, eat a snack, or do a different school activity. See frustration as a red flag to take a break and have some fun.
The beauty of home learning is that you are in charge of the schedule so work it to your advantage. The thing I loved the most about my homeschooling days (and the thing I grieved the most when our children went to school) was the flexibility of our family schedule.
If your kids work better in the morning, do schoolwork then.
If they are dead heads in the morning, then let them chill and do their work in the afternoon.
One rule we had that really benefited us was that they could not have any screen time until after their home learning was done. I would say, “Your brain needs to grow and connect first before it is numbed with entertainment.”
Give kids incentives for getting their home learning tasks (and their chores) done. Incentives can be screen time, a family game, a sweet treat, etc. Sometimes parents see this as bribing their kids to behave, but we disagree. The world uses incentives as motivation because it works. As adults, we get bonuses at work for doing a good job. The school system does this in creative ways. When the class has earned a jar full of cotton balls, the class gets a party or a longer recess. Find out what your kids really like and want, and put that as the prize they are working toward. Use that to your advantage and find what motivates your children. One of the best incentives is using your words. Our words feed the soul. Make sure you are continuing to build them up with your words.
“You are so smart.”
“You are working so hard.”
“I am so proud of you.”
“This was really hard, and you did a great job.”
Enjoy this time. I know it’s hard, it’s not our norm, and it outside of our routine. But I keep thinking, this is our kids’ dream come true to have mom and dad home all day paying attention to them. Our kids are wired to want to be around us and to be loved, accepted, and known by us.
Ask God to give you what you need to enjoy this special gift of time and to see life through the eyes of our kids. Ask Him to give you the perspective your children have as well.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, says, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
This is our prayer for you—to find not only satisfaction but joy in this season of home learning. He’s given us the gift of time “for such a time as this.”
If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].