“Children are not a distraction from the more important work, they are the most important work.” – Dr. John Trainer
Let’s be honest. We just weren’t prepared for this. Mamas and caregivers around the world are suddenly responsible for educating their children at home with limited experience or resources. Even with school districts posting lessons and offering support, we need help with the basics. That’s why we called on Angie Forrester, homeschooling mother of five with nearly a decade of experience. We hope you’ll listen and be encouraged as she shares tools and ideas to help us thrive during the COVID-19 school closure.
Scroll down to find a summary of things we discussed, additional helpful strategies, as well as direct links to some of the resources Angie mentions.
From Surviving to Thriving: 6 Strategies to Help You Succeed
Create Routine – Children thrive in structure and need consistency. So do we. It’s good to know what to expect each day, especially when things around us seem unpredictable. Create a schedule using your child’s input if at all possible. Kids often respond to change and expectations better when they’re part of the process and feel ownership. Be sensitive to what’s working and what’s not as the days (and weeks) go by, and feel the freedom to make adjustments.
Foster Character Through Responsibility – Giving your child chores to complete during the day not only keeps your house tidy and organized, but cultivates responsibility. He or she will soon learn that others in the home depend on their hard work and effort. If you have multiple children, consider rotating responsibilities to ensure that everyone gets a chance to try something new. We also hope you’ll allow your son or daughter the opportunity to manage their own time and make decisions independent of you during this season at home. Responsibility is often learned behavior that comes through experience. Use positive reinforcement to encourage helpful behavior whenever able. You’ll be surprised at how quick your child rises to the occasion!
Provide a Space for Optimal Learning – Angie suggests giving each child a personal space to keep their school books and supplies. This may be as simple as giving them their own area on a bookshelf, desk, or table. For kids that work better on the move, consider a rolling system like the ones in the link below. Angie’s three younger students prefer this method. One of their actual rolling carts is featured in the image to the left. Whichever method you end up using, encourage your son or daughter to be responsible for his or her space just like they are at school. It should be tidied up in the evening and ready for learning in morning. They may even begin to enjoy using and taking care of their new school area and resources!
Reframe Expectations – Our frustration and disappointment is often caused by unrealistic or unspoken expectations. Remember that everyone in the home is experiencing a new reality. We’re not used to being around one another for extended amounts of time. Angie reminds us that our own selfishness often gets in the way of optimal learning. Take some time every day to surrender your will to our Father. While self-care is always important, acknowledge that regular alone time may be less feasible in this season. You and your children are learning new rhythms together!
Give Grace – Understand that your children may be suffering, too. They’re not used to being home and learning from their mom. They may miss friends and all of the learning and social benefits they experienced at school. Both of you are first-timers, and both of you need grace for one another. We think it’s ok (and advantageous even) to be honest about your fears and trepidation. Maybe your children want to share their own with you. Be willing to say sorry and commit each day to prayer. We’re all going to need it.
Make Memories! – You have always been your child’s primary teacher. While we know that this is a season of hardship for many, our prayer is that you would enjoy this unexpected gift of time as much as possible. Take a moment each day to make a memory! Go on a nature walk. Bake something together. Write letters and put them in the mail. Learn a new instrument. Snuggle on the sofa and read a novel out loud. Make small care packages and anonymously drop them off on a neighbor or friend’s porch. Paint. Play board games. Document this adventure in a journal. Do a Bible study together. Linger at the table after meals. Do whatever you can to make positive memories and leave a legacy of the way your family tackled the COVID-19 homeschool season.
Active Learning Activities and Supplies
Suggested Picture Books and Novels to Read Aloud
Websites with Free Printables, Online Support, and Suggested Activities
Our hope and prayer is that you would cling to the hope in Christ as you navigate this season of life at home. May these suggestions and resources bring calm and clarity, and may you rest in the unwavering truth that you truly are the very best teacher your children have.
With great expectation,
Angie and Lisa
Meet Our Authors
About Angie Forrester: A northwest native, Angie enjoys spending her time cultivating gardens and young minds including her five “free-range” children. She has been a home educator for 9 years, working alongside other mamas to build community for homeschool families. As a lifelong learner you may find her reciting Latin, reading aloud to her children, or applying National Park stickers to her water bottle from her most recent adventure.
About Lisa Da Silva: Lisa has never (ever) officially homeschooled her children, and is increasingly thankful that her kids are young adults with online programs mandated by their schools. She is passionate about education and loved being an elementary school teacher before starting a family. She is honored to be the Director of Arise Ministries Collective, and longs to see women transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. She is willing and ready to come alongside all of the young mama’s unexpectedly at home during this season.