Brand New to the Whole “School at Home” Thing? Read This

"School is cancelled. My kids are home and I've got to manage their schoolwork, my work, and about a million other things. Help!"

Are you starting this new season of school at home and feeling totally and completely overwhelmed? Mama, I understand exactly how you feel.

Even though I'm a credentialed teacher with years of experience teaching kids of multiple grade and ability levels, I was scared and put a LOT of pressure on myself when I set out to school our daughter at home. At first, I was worried we weren't doing enough, that I had chosen lessons that weren't good enough, and that I didn't know enough to be her teacher.

But then I got some good advice from mamas who have been doing this a lot longer than me and you know what? I realized that I can do this. I can be the teacher my girl needs. I just needed to let go of what I thought was true and learn how to do this...a little bit at a time. 

So this is where I tell you not to panic. Instead, just grab a warm cup of coffee, a journal/notebook, and your favorite pen (BIC Soft Feel Retractable Ballpoint Pens, anyone?) and come along with me. Let's make a plan together for at-home learning with your kids. What can you do right off the bat to set them and yourself up for success? 

Here are my top three tips for getting a handle on the whole "school at home" thing so you can create and maintain a peace-filled environment that also lends itself to productivity and practicality for your children...and for you.

1. Stay calm. Even if you’ve never done this sort of thing before, you can trust your instincts about what your child needs. No one knows your child like you do!

You might consult with others who are experienced and encouraging, and you might seek support in areas where you have more to learn. But you know your child better than anyone else, so let your heart guide you.

2. Begin with the end in mind. When I was teaching in the classroom, we used to call this backwards design. Really that’s just fancy teacher talk for what Franklin Covey talks about in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Just like when I was in the classroom, whenever I was planning lessons or getting curriculum together, I thought about where I wanted my students to end up by the time the year, semester, or individual units of study were over.

You’re going to approach your child’s at home learning experience the same way.

Begin this new project “with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

One of the best ways to do this is to develop a mission statement for your season guiding your child’s at-home learning experience. 

Ask yourself: 

When my child’s time doing school at home is over, who will he/she be?

What would I love for them to know then that they don’t know now?

What will they be able to do then that they can’t do now? 

That is how you will develop a plan for success - by first affirming who your child is, putting your goals into focus, and then creating opportunities to execute on those goals during your student’s time learning at home.

That mission statement will make you a victor during this season instead of feeling like a victim.

3. See this season for what it is: a gift, not a burden. This season is a time to invest in your kids like you never have before...and it's temporary. It will not last, so use this season to shift your perspective. It's a blessing, Mama, not a burden.

Consider what really matters and will sustain your child long after this hard season of doubt and uncertainty is over. What matters most? It's our relationships. It's people. 

Remember: God will walk with us, but walking requires us taking steps forward. We can act in this season (instead of 'react') and we can carry on in confidence that He is with us and that we have all the tools we need to succeed.

The secret is to realize that He ultimately knows where He wants our children to end up and what direction He wants them to go. So let's guide them along to discover that path -- His direct route to the life He designed for each of them. 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Prov 19:21 NIV

Answer this one for me: “Do you feel frustrated in this season OR can you rest in the fact that, with a little guidance, you can get things under control?" 

If this post has struck a chord, I want you to know I'm working on a solution to help you approach this time with enthusiasm instead of completely dreading it. If you’re looking for mentorship + community during this season, I'm launching a brand new video series called The Heroic Homeschooler. Click here to learn more!

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