This post is different from what I usually do, but still part of my way of promoting a family centered, God-loving life, and helping others to create more love and beauty.
I have had a heart for children since I was very young. All I ever wanted to be was a mother. I went to school to have choices of doing things for children: teaching, illustrating, toy design, etc. Because of PCOS and RA my family is not as big as I wished, but I am humbled by the miracles of my children from God and thankful to him every day for what blessings I have.
Let me tell you dear reader- if I had had the actual choice to stay home with my children I would have done it in a heart-beat. Suffice it to say for many, many years we were extremely poor. 9/11, injuries, the recession all hit us hard and that is when we were trying to start our married life and then our babies were being born. We never qualified for any government help. Without my income we made $50 a month too much. We could not live on what my husband made. We lived cheaply- we owned older used vehicles, we rented a cheap, old house. So did I have the choice? No. But I did the very best I could to spend time with my babies. I worked less hours when possible, nursed and pumped milk for them, wore them in slings, co-slept, cloth diapered (to save even more money), etc. My husband and I invested time into them and love. In short, I treated them exactly as I would have could I have stayed home with them. I even chose teaching as a career so I could be with them during their off-time from school.
So when I tell you I would home-school them if I could, believe it. I am a huge supporter of home-schooling. (I realize this is odd for a school-teacher to say!) I’ve studied education for many years and public schools aren’t always the best fit. Frankly, they are becoming more and more Marxist which scares me. Neither do I think charter schools or online schools are the “be-all” answer. Every family has to make the best decision for their children that they can based on their circumstances.
Soon we might be faced with quarantines. Our children might be home for extended periods of time. They still need to grow and to experience wonder and have something to do and to focus on besides scary viruses. If you still have to work what can you do with them? If you are home what can you do with them? I’m going to give you some ideas in this post. Overwhelmed? Try FlyLady first. There’s no better time to start than now!
First off, thank you for still going out there and making our country run! I have immense respect for all workers, especially during times like this. Thank you. I am really hoping our communities can come together to figure out something to keep your children safe and happy while you go out there and work.
If possible, find a family member or a friend who is home that you can trust to look after your babies. If your boss is understanding take them with you to work. Give them things to do. Bring their school work with you. Pack snacks, food, books, art supplies, perhaps a small dvd player with family-appropriate movies and headphones. Maybe they can even help you. My children had different school schedules as me sometimes because we were in different schools. They would come with me when they were out of school and help in my first grade classroom. They listened to readers, played with the kids and passed out snacks. I rewarded them for working and they were loved by my students. Yes, it will be hard. They will want your attention. You will have to talk to them about what to expect and how they are expected to behave.
Consider this a fun experiment. You must have a plan. Be prepared, just like camping. Know what you are going to feed everyone. Use your crock-pot. Have a schedule. Please don’t let your children sit mindlessly in front of a screen all day. They need to go outside in the fresh air and to get vitamin D. They need to experience wonder and have time devoted to them from you.
Here is a sample of what a “homeschooling” day might look like and it was typical of some of our days in the summer when we did some homeschooling. Keep in mind that school does not have to last all day. Most home-schoolers are done at lunchtime.
I wake up at a regular time, get ready just like I would for work and make my bed. I wake my children and they get dressed and make their beds. It is important for myself and my family to maintain normalcy as much as possible. Routines are peace. Peace is a blessing. I go downstairs, put on the kettle, feed the animals and let them out. Then I fix breakfast and let the animals back in. We eat. Then everyone puts dishes away and helps clean up.
Now our school block begins. I don’t need nearly as much time to get school done at home with my small family as I do at my building with 24 children. I have a little place set up in the kitchen using our wall chalkboard and my rocking chair. A book basket is there beside it. Our microwave hutch has our materials in it. I try to make lesson plans based on what my children are interested in studying. This helps alleviate the “I don’t want to do work” attitude and makes it fun.
I try to incorporate art and creativity into all subjects through crafts and projects. One summer we did a unit on God’s creatures where we studied the creation of the world, learned to classify animals, made habitats out of old boxes for our toy animals and then learned why those animals were good fits for their habitats. The next summer we made habitats out of felt for those animals and for my class to study the same thing.
Here is a typical morning (notice I said morning- school at home doesn’t take the whole day!):
Our bible lesson is usually short and sweet. I read an Arch Book children’s bible book and we discuss it.
Math is usually speed drills to keep them sharp on the basics. My kids have their own slates to write on for things like this. Math is not my strong suit at all, so I definitely struggle here! I have gotten a few books over the years to help.
Language Arts is usually focused on spelling and learning prefixes, suffixes, etc. I believe language roots are key to understanding what is read. My kids can read very well so this study challenges them where they need it. I use my old 6th grade speller from A Beka. After that they read an SRA (from an old kit) that is on their level and answer the questions. I love these stories. They are challenging and the questions are rigorous and you have to pick the best answer, there is no obvious right or wrong. In the evenings I read aloud to them or they can read independently before bed.
Science can be anything from nature journaling, to going for a walk, to using our toy microscope. Sometimes we have an ongoing project like growing crystals, sometimes we take science to the stove and cook!
Social Studies is usually aligned with what we are reading in language arts. I go through the backstories on a lot of things and we use “History of the World in 1,000 Objects” to learn more.
We usually have lunch at this time and then the kids have the rest of the day for themselves. This is great because they still have free time, you have a time when you can do what needs to be done, and getting school done in the morning leaves the rest of your day open. I typically work in my studio during this time, or do projects around the house.
I try to “draw in” again around 3:00. I exercise (trying to get outside with the dog and the kids too), make dinner, take a shower and spend the rest of the evening relaxing, finishing things, or having family time. In the evenings I try to read aloud to my sleepy kids.
Let me end by saying this: I am a veteran public school teacher of 14 years. I have served in schools affected by family breakdown, welfare dependence, laziness, drug problems, and violence; in other words typical schools. I am there to serve children and to encourage them to work for what they have, to love the Lord, to find outlets for sorrow and frustrations that are safe and productive, and to grow into adults who are productive and who want beauty and love in their lives, not the violence and squalor they grow up in.
To be the best parent to your child you must spend time with your child and invest in them. Value their education, read to them, include them. Give them responsibilities. Make them understand you need their help as much as they need you. At my house everybody helps on “the ship!”
I am praying for you and know that you are in my thoughts readers,
P.S. You probably noticed that my own children were not in this post. They aren’t in any posts here because I protect their privacy. Thanks for understanding. 🙂
P.P.S. What will I be doing? I’ve been posting more #100dayproject art on instagram under blackmarigold80. I’ll make a new post with them here soon. I am also going to take off for Spring Break, then work hard on some new books and keeping my kids busy!