Today our guest blogger is Jill Meerdink, wife to Trevor and stay-at-home-mom/teacher to their six children. She enjoys homeschooling their children in the backwoods of Northern British Columbia, Canada.
With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, many parents are homeschooling for the first time. Maybe you were thinking of homeschooling already, maybe you never gave it a thought, or maybe you’ve been homeschooling for years. In any case, we’ve all found homeschooling tough (maybe even really tough!) at one point or another. Here are a few tips to help you on your journey.
1. “Commit your work unto the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Prov. 16:3).
Lay it all before the Lord. Ask for His guidance. After all, it is His will that you are where you are right now.
2. Prioritize your goals.
As you lay it all before the Lord, ask Him to show you what His priorities are. What does God see as most important right now? Is it schoolwork? Teaching your kids about God (Deut. 6:6 – 7)? Training your children in good habits? The answer will be different for every family. This is a decision that should be worked through by you, your husband, and God. As an example, our family priorities are:
a. Bringing the gospel to our children.
b. Building godly character in our children.
c. Teaching our children their “school” studies.
However you lay out your priorities, write them out and hang them up for a reminder. When the tough days come and the only thing that gets done is your number one priority, then you can be encouraged that you have done the number one thing that God has required of you.
3. Remember that God will give you the strength you need to do what He is calling you to do.
Take Moses, for example, in Exodus 4:1–5. God used what Moses already had—his rod. God will use the gifts He’s given you to do the work He’s calling you to do.
With points 1, 2, and 3 in mind, make a schedule or a routine you will follow every day. Children do very well with a specific routine. Knowing what is next in their day and what is required of them makes them feel more settled and less agitated. Make sure that in your routine your number one priority is getting done. In our schedule, one of the first things we do in our day is family devotions. It’s just that important. Work the rest of your day around your priorities. For a more in depth look at scheduling, I highly recommend Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell available on Titus2.com.
5. You don’t have to do it all!
Weed out any unnecessary school work and combine what you can. Is your child really good at spelling? Then lay their spelling workbook aside. Instead of doing a handwriting worksheet, have your child write his answers to their history questions in their neatest handwriting or even on specially lined paper. These are just examples. As you work with your own children you will begin to see what is unnecessary and what can be linked with other schoolwork.
6. There will be tough times.
In these times, go back over points 1, 2 and 3. You will be greatly encouraged! Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint!
7. Include Dad if he is available.
Kids love when Dad can teach them and spend time with them, too! Even if that’s just for a bedtime story.
8. Group kids together if you can.
This is especially true if you have a big family or mostly younger children. Quite often they can easily do the same history together and sometimes even math or reading.
9. Do you need a break? Take it!
Kids love a surprise day off. And sometimes Mom needs that too! Don’t view it as a weakness! A refreshed Mom makes for a more relaxed home!
10. Relax! Homeschooling is only as complicated as you make it.
Yes, it is challenging but it is also very rewarding! Relish the “Aha!” moments your child has when the lightbulb goes on and they finally understand something! Usually, it is your child’s teacher that gets to enjoy these times. Enjoy the ride! Relax and count your blessings in this busy time!
Are you a teacher who is sending work home?
Try to understand that a homeschool will run differently than a classroom. For instance, as a teacher, you have one whole day to devote to one single age group or level. Parents with multiple children (and especially young children) have that same amount of time (and often less, if you include all the homemaking they do) to teach multiple age groups or levels. Consider what the most important work to send home would be. Be honest about what is just icing on the cake and can easily be learned next school year or in the future. Understanding each other’s needs is important in this busy and stressful time for all of us.
Are you a parent that has already been thinking of homeschooling your children and then you got slam-dunked into it when COVID-19 came into the picture?
Let me encourage you. Homeschooling as a lifestyle is much different than homeschooling on lockdown. As parents, we have more options all the way around: curriculum, what to teach, what to leave out, etc. It is much less stressful overall than homeschooling for the short term under the direction of a school. If you are thinking of homeschooling for the long run, I encourage you to talk to a few homeschooling parents you know in your area. They can advise you on all the ins and outs and laws of your state or province and also shed more light on homeschooling lifestyle than I can here.
Keep in mind that God is using all this for your sanctification and your family’s spiritual good. Allow God to use it to make you more like His Son Jesus Christ. And remember, like all parenting, this work is kingdom work!