Can U smell the smoke? Homeschool schedules and planners are going up in flames as the Coronavirus makes its way across the United States.
The world’s attention has been focused on the parents of public and private school students and how their constant presence in the home right now will affect their lives. Very little mention has been made of how this crisis has affected homeschool families. We’ve all seen it on social media, the assumption that the lives of homeschoolers have not been affected very much, but we know differently.
Homeschool moms, I see U
Your once busy schedule of co-op, sports, library runs, play dates, and music lessons is gone. U not only have to worry about taking care of your family’s needs (from finding toilet paper to paying your mortgage next month), but now U must rethink your school plan and schedule as well. You have to reset.
I understand your world has changed overnight and, unlike the parents of public and private school students, U do not have someone telling U what your next steps should be. U do not have the encouraging reassurance to just do your best during this time or the assurance that whatever gaps happen now will be taken care of in the future. So, let me first say this: In this crazy moment of time, U are doing a good job.
It may not feel like you are doing a good job as you navigate your child’s educational needs, their emotional ones, putting food on your table, your husband suddenly working from home (or not working at all!), and your own emotional ups and downs. But, while everything has changed overnight, the one thing that has not changed is that you care deeply about your child’s education and you will do what you need to do to make sure they have what they need.
Yes, gone are your child’s co-op classes that U were counting on to cover certain subjects. Yes, gone is your weekly trip to the local library where your littles had story time. Yes, gone is your co-op’s project fair, orchestras performances, dance recitals, theatrical performances, etc. Let me say this next: It is okay to feel the loss of your life’s routines, rhythms, and worked for achievements.
U had something established and now its gone. There is so much uncertainty and unknown in all of this, but, I hold tight to the fact that God is sovereign and He ultimately is the one in control. Our job now is to surrender our worry to him and focus on what we can do, what we are responsible for: our homes and our children’s education.
Going It Alone
Probably for the first time since you started your homeschooling journey, or at least for the first time in a very long time, you are home full-time. The 2020 homeschool culture is different from the homeschool movement of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. The homeschool community back then hunkered down at home and rarely went out during the day. Yes, fear of legal implications played a part, but mostly, it was because the local community did not know how to respond to the crazy woman who kept her children at home.
As the ’90s went along and more states made it easier to homeschool, more opportunities became available to the homeschool community. These opportunities changed the homeschool culture and moved the homeschool child out of the home and into the local community.
Do not get me wrong, having opportunities outside the home are wonderful! But, these opportunities come with a price: our time and, for some, the confidence that we can educate our children on our own. The burden to fit in “everything” our child needs to learn in a short 12 years can be overwhelming. We worry and fret over our children’s education continuously and the fear of gaps in their education is real.
And now we have to deal with this, a crisis that shuts down the outside resources that helped relieve the burden to “fit everything in” and, dare say, “get everything right.”
U may be asking yourself, how am I going to pull everything together and salvage this school year? Or, the thought of “going it alone” makes U scared. These thoughts and feelings are okay. Every homeschool mom has, at some point, asked herself these same questions.
Even in my personal homeschool journey, 30 years and counting, I found myself asking those same questions. I could lose weeks frozen in my decision-making for fear of “getting it wrong.” I loved my children so much and I did not want to mess up their future by making a bad decision. It wasn’t until I learned that homeschooling was more than my current situation, curriculum, co-ops, or outsourced classes, that the fear quieted.
Homeschooling is more than those things, it is a culture that challenges us to think creatively and to approach life head-on and outside the norm. Take refuge in the fact that there are 101 ways to homeschool. Allow that understanding to empower U to make bold decisions and to confidently try things differently.
Resetting a Disrupted Homeschool Year
Today, sadly, it is the Coronavirus that is affecting my current homeschool year, but it is really no different than any other major life event that has happened to my family. Deaths, births, the Gulf War, extended care of grandparents, life-threatening illness, job changes, 9/11, kids transitioning to college, moves, kids getting married, the recession, and chronic illnesses, are only a few of the good and bad major disruptions our family has gone through over the last 30 years.
Good or bad, disruptions affect my family the same way: they always cause a major shift in how my husband and I need to approach educating our children.
When life disrupts our homeschool year, we were forced to reset. It can be hard, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.
To have peace of mind during these times, and to help my children still meet both the state’s requirements and the goals my husband and I desired for them, I developed a process to help me quickly reset my home and my homeschool in a matter of days.
This system consists of three steps:
3. Make a Change
Verb. To think deeply or carefully about.
The best way to move forward is to look back and remind yourself what your homeschool is built on. Reflect on your:
– mission statement
– family homeschool verse
– homeschool key values
– educational philiosophy
Reflecting on the purpose of your homeschool helps U to navigate resetting your practices. If you don’t currently have these, just write down a few thoughts about your homeschool purpose.
To help reset your practices, you’re going to list all the family goals and desires you had at the start of the school year. This is not the time to focus on each particular child’s education, but rather your overall desire for your family throughout the homeschool year.
Now comes the fun part. U may be surprised that U have already met your goals and desires for the school year! Put a check mark next to any of the ones that have been completed.
It’s time to reflect on your current situation:
What has changed?
What has become challenging?
What does the next three months look like for your family?
What are your concerns about your current situation?
Be honest and detailed. U are the leader of your homeschool, and a good leader must understand how a crisis affects both them and the ones they lead
Verb. To think judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of; assess.
This step is about your kids.
At the beginning of the school year, U set into motion a plan to help your children meet both state requirements and the personal goals you desired for them. This next step is a time for you to assess your child’s progress. I suggest using the following five areas to guide your evaluation:
– academic (consider the educational branches: language arts, math, social science, physical science, health, and fine arts) – spiritual
As you evaluate, list down what is working and what’s not in each category. Things might not have been working before your homeschool year was disrupted, or it may not be working now because of the disruption. Make a note of that. The goal of this step is to create a short list of priorities for the next step.
Make a Change
Verb. To become altered or modified.
Through steps 1 and 2, you have narrowed down where you need to focus your attention. If something is working within your current situation, that’s a win! Leave it alone. If something’s not working, now is the time to think differently and boldly.
I suggest focusing on these four categories when considering ways you can reset your homeschool. These are meant to be suggestions as your particular homeschool may need a change in an area not listed.
– home environment
Keep your key values and your child’s learning needs in mind and make the changes you feel are necessary to reset your homeschool!
The Homeschool Reset Tool
To help U work through these 3 steps to reset your homeschool year, the Homeschool-U team has designed “The Homeschool Reset Tool.” This printable PDF is meant to give you a place to capture your thoughts as you work through reflecting, evaluating, and making changes for your disrupted homeschool year.
With all the unknown and uncertainty out there right now, we wanted U to have something tangible to bring calm to the chaos.
The Homeschool Reset Tool is a free download. If you would like us to send you the tool, please use the box below to let us know.
Remember, U are doing a good job in this crazy time! U can reset your year and continue to lead your homeschool well even in the middle of this crisis.