We’ve reached a second year of homeschooling in our household. It’s a geeky parent’s delight, if I’m being honest. It’s a challenging endeavor to find ways to keep my kids engaged during the learning process, especially when they’re experiencing the “end of summertime” blues. It’s not easy for kids to switch gears when they’ve had a couple months off.
When it comes to my approach to this year, I’ve tried to adapt a similar routine to last year. We have about six subjects a day, and I previously divided the day into halves. Three subjects in the morning, and three subjects later in the day. Those later three subjects may have been finished in the morning or afternoon, depending on how much time was taken in the first three subjects or if they needed an extended break.
Come around to this year, and there’s already been a slight adjustment. Their workload in math and language arts has increased, which are two of the first three subjects (along with reading). Both kids have also noticed this extra work and they’ve vocalized their need for breaks, and that’s a great thing! I want my kids to be able to express themselves in a way where they know what their limits are or if they need help. Asking for a break is a very big deal. It lets me know they’re paying attention to the work and that they’ve reached an overload point.
PERSEVERING THROUGH FRUSTRATIONS
It’s quite obvious the overall workload this year will be greater than last year’s, and spending more time on particular subjects can be challenging. It demands more of the kids’ attention, while also having sustained focus to continue solving problems. Breaks are important, and they do ask for them and they do get them, but there are times when I want them to push forward.
I have been impressed seeing their resilience since the school year has started. There have been moments of frustration where they make a mistake, but guiding them back to taking their time allows them to refocus their efforts. It’s an important step, in the teacher role, to let them know that mistakes happen and remembering those mistakes will help them course correct when they encounter similar problems in the future.
Whether they’re trying to sound out tricky, new words or remember multiplication or division, both of my kids need to know that they’re able to tackle the challenges ahead. So, when I saw their frustrations and then watched them continue, it was very encouraging and a super proud moment for me. One of the hardest things for a parent is to see their kids struggle (or get hurt while playing), but helping them move through those difficult moments is part of the “job.” Sometimes, it’s all about letting them work through those struggles all on their own.
There were several moments last year where I pushed them to continue with their work, despite them possibly wanting a break. This year has seen a change; they want to push through on their own before they get a break. It’s an astounding reaction and a clear sign that they are handling the new school year just fine. With the past couple of years being altered beyond belief within the pandemic, it helps me to see them persevere. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that there are days where they seem to be handling all of this so much better than me. Of course, there are challenges to homeschooling that can’t be avoided, but seeing them succeed is monumental.
ENTERTAINING THE KIDS THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL YEAR
It can’t be all work and no play. There has to be a nice balance, but when you’re unable to socialize with friends within close quarters because of the pandemic, it’s tricky to match the kids’ needs when it comes to playing with or making friends. Recently, both kids found a new friend in the neighborhood to mask up with outside, and their happiness that shines through is blatantly clear. They’ve missed so much, and despite everyone having different experiences with or without kids during the pandemic, I think we can all agree we want our kids to be happy.
What else makes our kids happy? When the parents get involved and play, too? The end of the school day does not mean the end of a parent’s day. When school is over, then it’s time to switch from teacher mode to parent mode. The start of this school year has brought about some old favorite games, while doubling up on some fun new activities, such as badminton. Let’s just say my ability to withstand the never-ending onslaught of birdies reaches its limit quite quickly; however, it has almost become a daily game, and it’s a great way for the family to stay active.
As for old favorites, we’ve gotten back into a semi-routine of playing certain games, such as Tiny Epic Galaxies, Rat-A-Tat Cat, domino mazes, and tickle monster. Okay, so tickle monster involves me running around the house trying to tickle them – and, yes, it goes against the entire “stop running in the house” conversation we always seem to have. Maybe it’s simply hypocritical, or maybe rules are just meant to be broken. Okay, don’t tell the kids I said that last part.
GROWING UP FAST IN A NEW YEAR
Joking aside, this year has gotten off to a great start, and this comes in the face of seeing my kids work through frustrating moments, attempting to figure things out in the “classroom.” It’s worth mentioning it was also difficult for me to get into the teacher mindset, as well. I’ve created a similar environment where I look through a week’s worth of their work on the weekend, while also taking a glance to see what’s ahead in the coming weeks.
After last year’s endeavors with Geography and Earth Science, they will tackle Zoology and Early American History. As with any subject, my best advice for any parent tackling homeschool is to make the experience as fun and open as possible. I’ll look up videos for my kids to learn about different animals, while making sure to give them an accurate depiction of events throughout their history class. Yes, they’re learning about Christopher Columbus, but they’ll also be taught (as PG-rated as possible) the troubling nature involved with explorations and colonialism.
Getting to a point where my kids will be taught these things, where people treated others a certain way, is a gigantic reminder that they are growing up faster than I can imagine. It’s also an important reminder to me that there’s a responsibility to teaching them. I want them to be as well-informed of the past, so they’ll know these things if they see them in the future. It’s clear we’re dealing with a challenging political landscape where life and liberties are not being valued equally, but I can at least do what I can to share the most important values with my kids: Treat others how you want to be treated, and with that comes the simplest of messages – be kind.
Life and homeschooling are not easy, but it is a joy to get back to it with Year 2. It was a fantastic summer leading up to this school year, and we’re already off to a wonderful start. If you’re homeschooling this year (or last year), please feel free to share your experiences. If you have any tips to share, please start a conversation over on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear about your school year.
Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.