Schoolkids at Home. What do I do?

kids at homeSo your kids are at home.

As well as the general stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, now you suddenly you need manage schooling? How is that even possible?

Apart from a few ideas I really don’t know. So I’ve asked some experts: three homeschooling mums from our church. The question:  What tips can you give the rest of us for managing schooling at home?

First, though, a few words from Proverbs:

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Prov 1:8-9)

We see here that the Bible values the instruction and teaching of parents. Children are called to listen. We might not feel equipped or smart but these little people are our kids and God, in his wisdom, has chosen to put them in our homes for a long period. Now is our chance to have a great input into their lives.

One of our homeschooling mums, Teryn, says: “you don’t need to be ‘smart’ to teach them… God has equipped you with what you need to raise, teach and disciple them.”

Further on in Proverbs it says:

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Prov 22:6)

Perhaps we might come to value this year 2020 as the time we were able to give more direction to our kids. Another one of our mums, Winnie, says: “We love that homeschooling has given us a chance to really know our kids, that they like each other and they know themselves.”

So what are some of the tips our homeschooling mums share?

Prayer: Our third mum, Nicky, says , “Start the day off with Bible reading and prayer”.  Hard to argue with that.

Take it day by day: Teryn, Winnie and Nicky all say that you need to take it day by day. Don’t be overwhelmed by what they need to learn over the many months. Don’t be discouraged by a bad day (and there will be bad days). Nicky says, “thank God for a new day to start fresh. And pray for his help!”

Try not to worry: Teryn loves Matthew 6:34 when it comes to homeschooling:

“…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mat 6:34)

Our kids will understand if we’re stressed, but will also be encouraged when they see us give our worries to God and keep trusting him.

Think about some structure: The advice from our experts seems to be to have some structure in the day but not be overly rigid, especially if things are going well in the moment. Some ideas for structure are:

  • Spend some time early in the day with your toddlers, so they’ll cope better when you give attention to the school age kids.
  • Try to get most of your desk work done in the morning.
  • Try to get outside at some point during the day. Our kids will benefit from having space and sunshine, time in nature, and some sort of exercise.
  • Use the afternoon for more relaxed learning activities such as watching a documentary, reading or drawing.
  • This last tip is from me (with two boys age 12 and 14) so take it or leave it: I’m trying to replicate some structures from school: e.g. similar start and finish times, recess and lunch, even wearing school uniform/sports uniform. I’m not sure how this will go, but it’s working ok after two days.

Have some fun: Winnie encourages us to ask ourselves, “what did we enjoy when we were young?” E.g. elastics, marbles, skipping, lego projects, cooking, gardening. This could be fun for our kids too.

Think about their school friends: This one’s from me. The thing my boys miss most about school is their friends. I totally understand. Friendships are important and I’m missing seeing people as well. We had some long talks about how they could connect with their friends, and have ended up arranging for online chats through the Discord platform. So far they’re loving it. Hopefully, evangelistic opportunities will arise as well.

Ask around: This is a time when we can really help each other out. Our homeschooling friends will have heaps to offer. Also, our fellow school parents will be able to help us make sense of all the content, platforms and logins we’re needing to manage. Winnie also recommends this article for us beginners: “Suddenly Homeschooling – How to Set up Well!” It goes into things like making good use of space and includes links to other resources.

According to Winnie, this is a time to cherish with our kids. It might not feel like it right now, but it’s a thing to pray for. Why not pray for this now:

“Heavenly Father, I feel worried and overwhelmed at the prospect of having my kids at home for their schooling for many months. I praise you that you are good, kind and powerful, and this crazy moment is part of your wise plan for me and my family.

Thank you that because of the sacrifice of Jesus all my sins and weaknesses are forgiven, even those that will be exposed by this new situation. Help me to keep resting in your grace.

I pray that this might be a time where I really grow in my knowledge and love of my kids. I pray that you would use me to help them love Jesus and prepare them for a life that is pleasing to you.

Help me and my family be a witness to you during this time and that others we know would turn to you in repentance and faith.

In Jesus name,