By Danit Schusterman
In my 13 years of homeschooling on Maui, you could say I learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. As we all face school closures around the country, most of us are being thrown headfirst into homeschooling our kids. I would like to offer some tried and true advice and resources that helped me tremendously along my homeschool journey ensuring successful days for me as well as for my kids.
1. Your attitude
If you are feeling upset and resentful that you are now home with your kids, your kids will absolutely feel this. From this moment on, we need to accept and embrace that this is the situation and we are going to make the absolute best of it. You as well as your children will benefit from this.
2. Create a daily routine
We all know that children as well as adults thrive on routine. If your children are older and are doing school online, sit down with them and have them make a routine for themselves for a full school day with your approval. If you have younger children, create a schedule using pictures and put it up on the wall so they will know what is coming next throughout their day. You can download some photos by clicking here and here. When a child knows what’s happening next, they are automatically less anxious and more relaxed.
3. Have a prepared environment
Choose one area of your house where the children will be doing their activities and school work. This will limit the mess and keep all school supplies in one place. Even if your kids are doing different schoolwork, it keeps the momentum that school is in session. Set out their school work in an organized way so they have everything they need.
4. Take breaks
Kids can get lots of work done in a very short amount of time when homeschooled. Let them take breaks, and don’t underestimate how much learning gets done through independent play.
5. Create jobs
This is a time where everyone will need to chip in around the house. Cater to each child’s strength so it doesn’t become a power struggle. If a child enjoys working in the kitchen, their job can be preparing lunch a few times a week. Our kids are more capable than we think. Chores should now be tied into your daily schedule. Folding laundry, sweeping, keeping their bedrooms clean. Create a chore list of everything that needs to get done to keep your home running smoothly and have a family meeting deciding who is going to do what and how often. If your children are older, they can rotate making dinner for the family once a week.
6. Quiet time
This, in my opinion, is absolutely essential for the parent that is with their children all day. You need 1-2 hours of the day that is down time. These hours are mostly for you to take care of yourself. If you have young children, put on a Jewish video for them or have one of your older children watch them. This is your time to take a walk or exercise, go into your bedroom and take a nap, facetime a friend or family member, send out some emails or whatever you need to do for yourself. This is not school time, but it needs to be implemented in your day in order for you to maintain your sanity as a parent.
7. Don’t over do it
I remember very clearly preparing different activities for my kids that would take me over an hour only to have them finish the activity in 5 minutes. This was not very conducive. You’d be surprised how happy kids are with simple activities.
8. Let your kids explore their creativity
This is a great time to let your kids get in touch with their creative side. Put out art supplies and paper, get them empty books and have them write stories, let them bake, make slime, bring out the glue gun and let them create.
9. Give the kids alone time
Your kids are going to be together for longer amounts of time then usual. Depending on the size of your house, and some may need to be more creative than others, there needs to be times of the day where the kids have time to themselves, either in their bedrooms or backyard, porch or wherever you can help make this happen. They can read a book, listen to a story with headphones or anything that just gives them some quiet alone time.
10. You got this
BH I did this on Maui for 13 years. My children loved it and gained so much from it. There will be days where you will be frustrated and yearn for time to yourself. There will be days where you witness your children doing some pretty awesome things. You will have great days and you will have really difficult days. But you will get through it and so will the kids.
I documented all that we did over the years in a blog, so for lots of fun homeschooling ideas and worksheets for preschoolers, click here.