I marvel at people who actually choose to homeschool voluntarily, what on earth were they thinking? Covid-19 has forced many of us into the position of home ‘teachers,’ as well as juggling our day jobs, and the pain is very, very real. Just how are you supposed to be a mom or a dad, an employee or a boss, and a teacher all at the same time? Here are five steps that are working for me:
1. Horses for courses
How you go about homeschooling will depend a lot on the age of your kids:
- For kids under ten, try setting up their school space right next to your workspace – like parallel play for preschoolers. Your kids just want close proximity to you at this age
- Older kids will be more self-sufficient – set them up at the kitchen table or in their own workspace.
2. Plan together
At the start of each day, sit down as a family, and work out your ‘To Do’ list for the day. Identify the two most important work tasks you need to complete; if you have a partner working from home, have them identify their two most important work tasks; and have your kids identify their two most important school tasks. Next, agree as a family two fun activities you would like to do together during the day. And finally, identify two family/ individual chores that need to be undertaken during the day. This will give you a list of 6 agreed tasks for the day.
3. Batch work and school
Batching is the concept of grouping like tasks together to complete them in one sitting. If you have a partner working from home, it helps to alternate your work batch with their work batch so that one of you is always available to help the kids if needed. If you don’t have a partner, then, where possible, batch your work tasks at the same time as your kids are working on their school tasks. Set the timer for 30-45 minutes and encourage everyone to work without interrupting each other until the timer goes off.
4. Batch fun
In between each work batch, batch 30-45 minutes of fun together – a board game, exercise, cooking, playing along. If your kids know that they are only ever 30-45 minutes away from having your undivided attention, it will make it easier for you to get them into the habit of not interrupting a work batch of time. Alternate batches like this until lunchtime, then the afternoon can be spent on either process-driven work tasks that don’t necessarily require your uninterrupted focus and family/ individual chores.
5. Do the basics well
Don’t let the pressure get to you – first and foremost, you are a mom or a dad. So, be a good mom and dad and make sure you get the basics right. Kids fed? Check. Kids sort of dressed? Check. Kids at home, isolated, and staying safe? Check. You are winning.
If ever there was a time to embrace a little free-styling and cut yourself some slack, this is it. After all, your daily family workout is really just a Gym lesson. Family talks around the dinner table about all the countries you want to visit is really just Geography. Getting the kids to help with dinner and the dishes is Home Economics. And your kids spending a bit of extra time on their iPad so you can get a bit of extra work done is really just an extra Computer Science class.
See, you can nail this whole homeschool gig.