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More Tips for the Sudden Homeschool Parent

Last week I gave you the first five tips on how to survive this homeschool year.  Again, I am not a certified teacher or an expert on education, I am just a homeschool momma who has been in these waters for the past 16 years.  In that time I have had many successes and many, many failures.  I hope you find these remaining five tips useful.

Location, Location, Location
There is no rule about where your child does school.  My son liked to do school under the table when he was little.  He'd grab his books and a pencil and retreat underneath the dining table.  My oldest daughter liked to be outside in the fort she built, and my youngest loves to read her history lessons outside in a hammock.  I have built forts in the living room and we have all piled up on my bed.  Honestly, anywhere is a good place to learn.  The only caution I would express here is I have never had success with my kids doing school alone in their own bedrooms.  There are just too many distractions in there and I would always find them doing something other than schoolwork.  

Ask For Help
Okay. Real talk here.  I hate math.  I hate it!!  Once we get past pre-algebra I have to tap out.  Which was fine with my oldest, but once I saw my son was going to get into the higher maths I knew I was in trouble. My husband is great at math, but he is NOT a teacher!  So we hired a tutor for my son.  I know right now we can’t really take our kids to a tutor but with social media, you can find someone on your friend lists willing to teach trigonometry for a small fee (not me).  Or, in many cases, your child's teacher has set up online resources you can use.  If both parents are home I would encourage you to teach the subjects each of you enjoy.  I love history, it's my jam!  My kids and I have acted out whole scenes from the textbook; I use different voices and we all have a blast.
My mother in law has also helped me by doing a subject each week.  She likes science and sewing and so she has done lessons on these subjects with my kids.  Even though taking the kids to grandma and grandpa's house right now may be out of the question, with apps like Portal, Facetime and Zoom you can beam the grandparents right into the living room.    

Use Your Free Resources
Since the new restrictions on gatherings, a ton of content has been made available online. I cannot name all of them but a few of my favorites are Khan Academy and Teachers Pay Teachers (look under the free content).  Typing.com is great for kids who haven't mastered their keyboard skills. And, of course, there is Youtube.  I love Youtube because you can search just about any topic and several videos will generate for you to choose from.  Now this is the internet, so you have to be careful about what you click, but I personally have used this method for years with satisfactory results.  I actually have a whole list of "teachers" that I prefer on Youtube.  

Get Outside
A lot of changes for our kids means that they are completely removed from their extracurricular activities.  Soccer, baseball, softball, theater, dance, and the list goes on.  It is important to let our kids get outside and soak up the sun.  Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" because we can get a good dose just by being out in the sun.  Now, of course, you have to make sure your kids are properly protected in the sun, but getting out is key.  
Currently, my kids and I are working on our home garden. I have been planning it out for several months, but if you have a little space, it is not too late to put some starters or seeds in the ground.  My 8th grader has a garden journal in which she has drawn out all the things we planted and she is charting their growth.  As a science project, planting a garden can keep the kids occupied for the duration of the year (whew, did I mention I am not a science fan either).  
Another thing I did with my kids when they were younger is nature walks. All three of my kids loved to do these, and it was some much-needed exercise for momma too!  At the start of the walk, I would tell the kids, "we are looking for..." and name birds, or bugs (my son’s favorite) or evergreen plants, or seeds, etc.  We would start out on our walk and each one of them would have to find five different things.  If you have younger kids you can modify this to a lesser number or you could even choose colors or shapes.  The objects or amounts aren't the biggest importance here, it is the activity itself. As the kids got older they would write about all the insects, plants, animals, and even clouds they saw in their science journals.  
This activity is also a great way to get in some P.E.  Do some stretching before and after and explain to your kids about how the muscles need to warm up and cool down to work correctly.  That's two subjects in one!

Every Day is a New Day
You are going to have bad days homeschooling your kids.  I'm sorry but it's true.  If I'm being honest it's been those bad days that have taught me the most about how to teach my kids.  Each one is their own person and what worked for one may not (and in my case, most definitely will not) work for the other.  I have had days where I felt like Mary Poppins and I have had days where I felt like Miss Hannigan from Annie.
The main thing I try to remember is that we have five days a week and if we veer off course one of the days, I try to reset us for the next day.  Getting up and repeating the same bad day over and over again is only going to make the next few months seem like an eternity for both parents and the kids.  
A dear friend of mine once told me, "Ursala, God gave you these kids, and if He gave them to you, He'll tell you how to raise them."  I have clung to those words ever since.  
Trusting that you can do this (even if it's just for the rest of the year) is key.  That trust will give your kids the confidence they need to complete this year strong.

I hope these 10 tips have given you a few things to try over the coming weeks.  We are all in these uncharted waters together right now, be encouraged that you are not alone.  This time will soon be in your rear view mirror and you will have a great story to tell your grand kids about that one time you were a teacher.
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