Our nation is going through a strange and difficult time right now. One particularly challenging development for many families is the temporary closing of schools.
If you are one of those families, OCEANetwork wants you to know that we are praying for you! We also put together this quick guide to give you encouragement and answers to some questions you might have.
Schooling at Home Vs. Homeschooling… Does it matter what we call it?
It’s important to know some terminology before you dive in too deep. Sometimes the term “homeschooling” is used in a general way to mean any at-home learning. And to the extent that you are “schooling” at home, that’s true.
However, when you use that term to search for ideas and tips, you’ll often find information that only applies to independent homeschoolers as defined by state law (because legally homeschooling is different than public schooling or charter schooling). For that reason, as you search online you will run across many “get started homeschooling” resources, curriculum suggestions, and tips that may not necessarily be useful to your current situation.
You are dealing with some unique circumstances that are very different from the experience of traditional, independent homeschooling.
- Public and private school parents suddenly teaching at home are going through a fast transition time that takes quick pivoting and adjusting. With homeschooling, parents have time to research, easing into the style of teaching and learning that best fits each family.
- You are under the direction of your school and have materials and plans to follow at home or will soon be provided with them. Independent homeschoolers are free to choose their own curriculum and course of study for their children, working at a pace that best fit’s their child’s needs.
- You are being asked by the government to stay at home and practice social distancing. Homeschoolers have the benefit of more time with their families and free time at home, but they are also typically very active with a variety of classes, play dates, support groups, events, and field trips to take advantage of.
These are not small challenges! So as you search for information and take advice, just be aware of these differences and glean what is truly helpful for your situation.
Prayers and Encouragement
For all the differences between homeschooling and your circumstances, there are important things we all have in common: We are all parents who love our children and want what’s best for them!
In the midst of this tulmutuous time, we pray for wisdom and patience as you navigating these unexpected waters. We also pray blessing over you and ask the Lord to give you a rich and meaningful time with your children. Our goal is to encourage you through this!
In addition, if you do decide to withdraw from public school and pursue independent homeschooling, we have some information on that for you at the end of this article, so bookmark this page for future reference!
7 Important Steps for Parents Suddenly Home Educating
Take a Break When Needed
Keep in mind that your family is going through a huge shift and that taking breaks when you can is important! Find ways to relax and enjoy each other’s company during this temporary focused time at home.
When the day gets rough, don’t be worried about changing things up or taking the rest of the day off and starting again when you can. One of the wonderful things about home education is the flexibility of meeting each family’s needs!
Keep a Simple Routine
With schedules and habits turned upside down, setting a simple routine is essential. One idea is to start with a basic routine that is built around the natural milestones of the day: mealtimes! Then you can build on it as you see what works for your family.
Here’s an example
- Read aloud from the Bible and discuss
- Clean up and family chores
- Lessons (take short breaks when you need it)
- Quiet time for younger kids, older kids finish lessons
- A fun family activity or video
- Bedtime routine
Of course, such a simple routine can have a lot of free play happening throughout the day, which is good for kids! More read aloud and audiobook time throughout the day can be a blessing as well. But a simple start like this provides some structure and anchors to your typical day so that your family stays steady and focused.
Start With the Basics
You may have curriculum and lesson plans from your school that you need to follow, and if not, such materials may very well be provided soon. Either way, know that you do not have to re-create public school at home. Start with the basic subjects of reading and math to the day. Then add more as you build up your routines.
You may also want to take this time to learn a little bit about your child’s learning style. Doing so can help you teach to their strengths and understand how they best learn. This can be helpful when you hit any trouble areas.
Add in Fun and Easy Learning
Find some ways to make things fun for both of you! For example, let them choose a topic or elective that they can explore based on their interests. Or have a weekly “Fun Friday” with various activities, art projects, or other family fun.
There are many wonderful freebies and resources right now that you can take advantage. Check out this growing list from Homeschool Freedom.
Show Yourself & Your Kids Grace
These coming weeks will be challenging. However, this trial can bring wonderful opportunities to build your relationship with your child, enjoy learning together with them, and point them to Christ.
Ground your days in the Word of God and in prayer. The Lord is our only sure foundation no matter what the storms of life bring. Anchor yourself to Jesus and this time with your children will be an eternal investment in their hearts and in the Kingdom of God.
Your days may not end up looking the way you expected. That’s ok! Seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him discernment as you build your family’s routines during this time and make decisions about schooling activities. Ask for wisdom as you guide your family through the understandable anxieties and unsettled nature of this season. Show yourself and your family heaps of grace, dear friends! And may God bless you.
Think Homeschooling May Be for You?
During this crisis, parents are already realizing that the freedom that comes with homeschooling is a great fit for their families. They are looking into how to withdraw their children from the schools and notify the state that they will be homeschooling going forward. You can take this step, too!
Does this sound like an education you’d like to provide for your children?
- A course of study and experience catered to your child’s level, learning style, and interests.
- More time with your children to build family relationships and enjoy these few short years together.
- A lifestyle of family discipleship, with more time for character development, Bible study, and Christian materials in your studies.
- Fantastic resources, support groups, activities, classes, and events that are available to homeschoolers these days.
- Opportunity for better socialization and development of life skills that will set them up for success in the real world.
- And much more!
When you’re ready to pursue independent homeschooling in Oregon, OCEANetwork is here to help!
- Guide to getting started homeschooling in Oregon
- Preparing yourself to homeschool
- Tips for choosing curriculum (including downloadable guide
- Sign up for emails from OCEANetwork
Feel free to contact us anytime at (503) 288-1285 or via email. We’re looking forward to connecting with you!
(If you live in a different state, connect with your state homeschool organization.)