Education, Special Needs

Homeschool Tips From A Mom Who’s Been In The Game Long Before COVID-19

homeschool tips for parents during COVID-19

As we enter this new normal, people all around the world are finding new ways to adjust to changing responsibilities – one of which is homeschooling your kids. It can be a daunting task, even for those parents who voluntarily decide to go into this lifestyle!

Having made the switch over to homeschooling back around 2014, I’ve had many years to dial in a system that works for my family and I. However, many parents out there are still in the process of learning. My hope for this article is to provide homeschool tips for parents to seamlessly transition during these uncertain times.

I’ll start with a bit of background. When my son, Tony, was just in 4th grade, we were beginning to notice some challenges he was having at school, particularly with reading and math. Eventually, we decided to have him evaluated by a specialist and Tony was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia. With an awful student-teacher ratio at the traditional brick-and-mortar schools, he wasn’t receiving the one-on-one attention and assistance he needed to keep up with his fellow students, which motivated my husband and I to look into alternative learning methods.

The process was not an easy one by any means. One by one, we went searching for various homeschooling programs, but none of them seemed to give us what we needed. Then we came to Arizona Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school, that had everything and more. Not only did they have special-ed teachers on hand for Tony, but also an incredibly individualized program that allowed us to cater his courses to his preferences.

Six years later, Tony is now in 10th grade and still loving homeschooling.

There is definitely a learning curve that comes with this way of life, but as I’ve been able to reflect on my experiences over the years, hopefully, these homeschool tips for parents can help you flatten that curve.

First things first – create a physical workspace. Without a classroom to rely on, the new homeschooling way of life will require some adjustments. Depending on your family’s dynamic and available space, make your very own ‘productivity zone’ to get centered and focused to continue your success. My son chose to make his in his bedroom, as it’s where he feels most comfortable, however, his desk is in a position where I can still easily check in on his progress without completely disrupting him.

Secondly, I would highly recommend utilizing tools and technology. Virtual learning can be challenging for some kids. Fortunately, there are many online tools to help them succeed. One that has particularly worked well for us is Evernote. Evernote’s Cornell Notes are especially helpful in keeping my son engaged and organized, whether it’s during a self-taught textbook lesson or a Zoom class lecture.

Additionally, as kids are no longer able to participate in group projects, the Individual Project template can come in handy in keeping everything organized and in one location. Evernote is really unique among other tools in its cross-platform functionality, which allows me to use my phone to check Tony’s work that he’s doing on his computer (which really comes in handy if you’re out running errands).

In times of change, planning is more important than ever. One of my biggest homeschool tips for parents is to include your children in the process (even though many of us would prefer taking full control). When children have some sort of investment in the schedule, they will fight less to get things done.

Find a way to work together to establish day-to-day tasks. You can also record your progress using a tool like Evernote’s Daily Planner. Nobody knows how long we’ll be in this new lifestyle, so it doesn’t hurt to keep tabs on your monthly goals, as well, to prevent losing any momentum.

Finally, my last and possibly most vital tip is to practice patience. Altering your kids’ learning environment is no easy task, but as a parent, your attitude towards the situation can make the biggest difference in the success or failure of this shift.

This is a hard time for everyone, but you’ll see a huge difference if you’re upfront with each other and keep communication open. There’s no perfect parent, and sometimes we just don’t know how to help our kids (who knew they changed math!?), but as long as they’re comfortable coming to you, you can figure it out together.

Looking back at the beginning of my family’s journey in homeschooling, it’s been exciting to see it come together in the way it has. And as homeschooling becomes a growing reality among parents across the country, we’ll start to see more tips and tools to help navigate through these uncharted waters.

Featured Image Credit: Kelly Sikkema

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