We’re only a handful of weeks into the 2020-21 school year, and there’s already plenty of stress to go around–for both kids and parents. There’s hybrid schooling, there’s at-home virtual schooling, and there’s homeschooling–all of which are just different enough to have their own sources of anxiety.
With COVID-19 still lingering (is this thing EVER going to go away?), there are more new homeschoolers than ever before…literally. Between fear of the virus and worries over the way schools are handling safety measures, millions of families across the country–and world–have turned to homeschooling. And as first-time homeschoolers, there are going to be bumps in the road. Even homeschool pros have their stressful days–it’s all about how you manage them.
Here are some common themes and sources of stress for first-time homeschoolers.
1. How am I supposed to create a full school day at home?
Simple answer. You’re not. Ask 100 homeschoolers if they mimic a traditional seven-hour school day, and I’d bet 98 look at you like you have three heads. Plus, because your student is getting dedicated one-on-one attention from either you or an instructor, the day is naturally going to be shorter. Think about it–no distractions from other kids, no waiting for the class to settle down. That alone cuts down some time from a traditional school day.
One of the (many) advantages of homeschooling? You can do it however you want, whenever you want.
For example, say your son is a morning person but your daughter prefers to sleep in. Work with your son from 8-11, then let him do some independent work; take a break for lunch (which I guess would be breakfast for your daughter…), before working with your daughter from 12-3. Then she can do some independent work for a couple of hours. Boom, there’s your school day.
“But how am I supposed to fit every subject into three hours of instruction?” Another simple answer: Don’t. Work on math and English/reading on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then pick up science, social studies, and foreign language on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or mix and match however you’d like. With homeschooling, you have all the flexibility in the world, if your schedule allows for it. As long as your student is getting in a good amount of learning each day, it doesn’t matter which subjects are taught on which days and at which times.
That said, many people need that sense of structure and schedule, or else it feels like total chaos. I get it–I’m one of those types of people. I need some type of order, and if I don’t have it, stress sets in. If you’re like me, set a schedule then. Maybe something similar to what I mentioned earlier. If you want to take it a step further and have certain subjects at a particular time on specific days, do it! Create a calendar and weekly schedule and hang it where everyone can see it. That way you always know what’s in store for tomorrow.
However you decide to go about it, just know that you don’t have to squeeze everything into a full school day. A full school day is what you decide it should be.
2. I’m still working at home. How am I supposed to teach and work at the same time?
Well, you’re not. I know, I know…easier said than done. But it is possible to do both. In fact, I wrote about this very topic during the early days of the pandemic. So, there are a lot of variables at play here–there’s not really a blanket answer that’s going to help everyone. The solution to this issue depends on:
- What type of work you do
- What your daily hours look like
- How old your child is
- What else you have going on besides school and work
If you have the type of job that allows you to work in short shifts, move your hours around, and allow for a pretty flexible schedule, that’s probably the ideal job to have while you’re homeschooling (for obvious reasons). This is especially helpful if your kids are younger and need supervision and consistent guidance.
If your work requires you to be available at any given moment during the day, or if you’re expected to have several calls, meetings, and presentations, homeschooling a younger child is not going to be easy. However, if your student is in middle school or high school, this scenario is entirely possible since he or she won’t need any hand-holding and can work pretty independently so you can get your work done.
Regardless of your child’s age, if you have a super-busy schedule outside of work and school (sports, clubs, other extracurriculars), homeschooling is going to be difficult. Again, it’ll be a whole lot easier if you have an older student; if you do have a younger child, and you have to work all day, you can always flex your schedule and do school a little bit of school in the morning, and then finish up in the evening–if the rest of your day isn’t packed. If it is, that flexibility becomes minimal. And if your work week proves to be inflexible (maybe some days are packed with meetings and just won’t work for you), you can even do school on the weekend! WHAT? School on the weekend? Yes, if that’s what works best for you. Tuesday through Saturday, with Sunday and Monday off? Why not?
Take a deep breath and look at your situation from a wide angle. If you have older, more independent kids, you should be able to pull this off. If your kids are young, consider all of your options–maybe you can work out a more flexible schedule with your employer. After all, COVID-19 has really softened many companies’ stances on strict schedules and working from home, so there could be an opportunity for you. No matter what though, homeschooling while working is possible! It just might take some flexibility and creativity.
3. I’m not a teacher. How am I supposed to do this?
I would guess that approximately 99% of homeschool parents are not teachers. I might be off by a few points, but the overwhelming majority do not teach professionally. Don’t worry–you do not need to be a chemist to teach chemistry. Nor do you need to be the smartest person in the world to teach trigonometry or calculus. That’s what instructor’s guides and online classes are for!
For the subjects that you think you’d enjoy teaching and know a little bit about, dive right in and have fun teaching them! For those you simply can’t grasp (hi, trigonometry and calculus!) or have no interest in whatsoever, sign your student up for online study, such as Bridgeway Academy’s Live Online Classes. These classes are beneficial for a few reasons.
- They’re taught by expert instructors who do this for a living and know their stuff.
- They’re fun for kids, as they get to interact with virtual classmates as well as their teacher.
- They save you from having to teach the subjects that your brain just can’t figure out.
- They give you a bit of a break so you can get some work done or–gasp!–lay down on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee.
As for the subjects you are teaching, consider looking at Bridgeway’s Grade Level Kits. Available for students in grades 1 through 12 as well as PreK and kindergarten, our Grade Level Kits contain a full year of curriculum that’s designed to fit your child’s learning style and personality–that means he or she is going to love learning since the lessons cater to their strengths. Also included are hands-on activities and daily instructor’s guides that literally lay out each day for you so you don’t have to do so much planning.
Plus, there’s online learning resources such as Elephango.com, books, lab kits, games, and more! And if you add the Records and Support package to your Grade Level Kit, you’ll receive all the record-keeping and support you’ll need, as well as the all-important accreditation.
This is all a lengthy way of telling you that you don’t need a doctorate or even a master’s degree in a particular subject in order to teach it. All you need is the right attitude and instructor’s guides!
The prospect of homeschooling can definitely be daunting, especially if you’re new to it. But hopefully we’ve eased your mind just a little bit and given you some helpful advice and the confidence to keep going. You will not regret taking your child’s education into your own hands…in fact, you’re probably going to love the journey just as much as your child will.
Bridgeway is here to help guide you through the adventure at every turn. Call us at (800) 863-1474 to find out more about everything we have to offer and to get started on the exciting homeschool journey!