“I CAN’T work at home AND school my children who are now home! How am I supposed to DO all of this?”

That’s the #1 issue I’m working with clients on these days. It’s too much.

Online schooling is expected to continue for much of the United States this Fall due to COVID-19. This leads to frustration and despair for parents. It’s too much to expect parents to maintain their jobs while working from home, parent their kids AND teach and monitor the online school learning experience.

What if you flipped the idea that kids are going to be behind if you don’t try to do it all?

Maybe your kids could be AHEAD if you let them.

What if parents decided to call this a gap year?

A gap year takes the pressure off of the deadlines to learn. I’m raising life-long learners. Six months without physical school in a long lifetime of learning will not negatively affect my kids. In fact, they’re going to be exposed to learning all the  time. Learning how to run two businesses, cooking, cleaning, gardening, caring for animals, building relationships…

A year of enrichment.

Maybe that’s public school done online. Maybe it’s a mix of public school part-time and other classes you’ve curated. Maybe it’s all hands-on learning.

A year of exploration.

A year without anxiety.

A year of teaching kids flexibility and inner stability.

Here’s the plan

Step one: include your child in the conversation. Whether they’re 5 or 15 years old, collaborate with them. Ask them what they want to learn, if all the blinders were off and they could study ANYTHING???

I did this last week. We homeschooled for nine years and I loved it! I loved seeing my kids excel at their own pace, knowing what they were doing and having a flexible schedule. Obviously, what we’re asked to do now isn’t “homeschooling” because all of the fun experiential stuff is gone due to COVID, but I’ve got some ideas on how to make this easier.

Here’s what’s on the list of “If I could study anything list” for my 11th grader, 9th grader and 7th grader:

Educational Plan for 2020 Fall

  • Coding to develop mods in Terraria
  • City planning
  • Architecture
  • Sewing and embroidery
  • Get abs of steel
  • Baseball
  • How to draw in perspective
  • Music from different periods of time (music survey)
  • How to attract more viewers to the YouTube channel and how to edit videos for YouTube
  • French
  • Finance, budgeting, financial literacy

We’ll add the state’s standards for Language Arts, Math, Science and History to the topics above to design a schedule.

Step two: Set a goal for each topic. How will you measure progress? Daily/weekly/monthly. For French, a goal could be to lead a conversation with a French speaking adult. For financial literacy, a goal could be explain compounding interest or show me how to balance a checkbook.

Step three: Try to lump topics together so that multiple kids are using the same curriculum. For example, all three kids will be learning financial literacy, just at different levels.

Step four: Think creatively about who can help.

  • Your older children can help teach their younger siblings
  • Hire a neighbor kid to lead activities (with masks, 6 feet apart)
  • Ask grandparents, family members or friends to take on part of the educational plan. Do you know someone good at math? Art? French? Someone who could practice reading with your elementary school child?
  • Hire a community teacher or leader
  • Hire a teen
  • Barter with a teen–an hour of teaching for a fantastic testimonial and volunteer opportunity (Teens are looking for resume-builders!)
  • Put together a video class for a group of kids interested in the topic
  • Use library (free) resources
  • Tap into (free or paid) online classes

Step five: Take a page from Unschoolers and fill your home with resources: library books, Legos, scientific magazines, microscopes, magnifying glasses, art supplies, pipe cleaners… Let your child stumble into learning!

Step six: Create a schedule and stick to it.

  • Start with a family meeting to set the tone for the day.
  • Decide on a time to start school. Here’s an example school schedule. 9am works for me. That means, before that time, I’m not available as a teacher.
  • Define your roles and when you’ll be each one. At my house, before 9am, I’m a Mom and business owner. At 9am I show up ready to lead the schoolwork. At noon, I’m a Mom and business owner.
  • Set up blocks of time for the basics 10am-noon and let your child help plan their day. Do they want to do math or history first?
  • Make them do something active at least every two hours. Jumping jacks, going outside, jump on the trampoline, ride bikes…
  • Keep a login book for educational websites so that they can login with usernames and passwords by themselves.
  • Include QUIET TIME for one hour in the morning and afternoon. That will be time without devices that your child can occupy themselves.
  • Use this Daily Expectations list to require chores and homework be done first, before earning an hour of SCREEN TIME
  • Use this 100+ Offline Activities for Kids list to get them off screens and thinking creatively
  • Ask your child how they could help others? Let them define a volunteer opportunity in the neighborhood or online.
  • Don’t forget to let your older child teach your younger ones.

Maybe the kids will be ahead if we let them lead… What could this look like at your house?

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