My kids and I sat down the Monday after Spring Break, knowing they wouldn’t be going back to school for a long time. This week I decided that since the school wasn’t set up to provide us with anything, we’d kind of transition from our spring break mode, which was you can sleep all day and do whatever you want. I’m now forcing my children to rise by (GASP!) 9:30 a.m. We talked about what was important and narrowed it down to keeping healthy, learning, helping each other and others and entertaining ourselves. And we’re starting to think about how we’ll do the school at home thing.
I say “school at home” and not “homeschool” on purpose. To me, they are very different things. School at home is directed by someone else, be it a public charter, or in this case our public school. Homeschool is family-driven, each family making choices based on their own beliefs, customs, and preferences. We did homeschool for logistical reasons when the kids were in K-2nd grades. It was better than switching schools two times a year to follow the cattle’s annual migration. Now that we’re going to be doing “school at home”, a lot of people think it’ll be easy for me because I used to homeschool.
I actually think it’ll be a little harder than when I homeschooled. First, I’m not going to be in charge (and for those of you who know me, I’m good at being in charge). Next, we have to try to pick up where school left off before this extended break and I wasn’t there, so it’s hard to know what was going on. Last, I’m not great at workbooks or online learning. It was hard for me when we homeschooled too.
I’m going to try really hard to work with my kids’ teachers – I admire them and I so appreciate their dedication and caring. But this is going to be harder for them, too. They didn’t learn how to talk to 30 kids at home everyday and in middle school actually over 100. They haven’t practiced making online connections with kids and teaching lessons through the internet. And it’s going to be hard for the kids too. They will miss their friends. They won’t understand how their mom is explaining the math lesson.
One thing I think is going to be really important is to just accept right at the start, this is going to be hard. And also, that this is going to be different. And then, jump in. Try to get the best out of it. I think these kids will look back really fondly at this time home with family.
My best advice right now is take it easy! If all else fails, read, read, read and then read some more. Take breaks, go outside, move around. And communicate with their teachers. They are so knowledgeable, not just about the subject matter but about your child’s learning style. They’re learning about “school at home” right along with us. Together, we can make it a success.
A few resources for home learning:
Pinterest – when I was homeschooling, I made boards for every subject, and for art projects, and for my dream home, because why not? You can check out my boards (Laura Bettis) which have a lot of K-2 activities, or just go on to pinterest and search for 6th grade art project or whatever you’re looking for. There are lots of amazing things on there.
Your Local Library – Here at the Donnelly Library, and most public libraries these days, we have a lot of online resources. If you look at the front page of our website, scroll down and on the right there are links to a number of great resources provided by the Idaho Commission for Libraries. Among them is Learning Express. It’s free, you register and you can access all different kinds of lessons for all ages. Tumble Books provides great online books (more info here). We are also a member of the Idaho Digital Consortium, so using Overdrive or their popular Libby app, you can access thousands of books, audio books and other resources (see more here). If you need your library card number and password, email the library at [email protected] Our library also has an Epic account which Sherry talked about here.
Storylineonline.net – this is a great website with celebrities reading books, if you choose “all books” at the top, it takes you to a library listing all the books. Each book has an “activity guide” that has extension activities to delve a little further into the book.
Teachers Pay Teachers – meant as a platform for teachers to share lessons and activities, I used this a lot when I was homeschooling. Some are free, many are really low cost. You can search by subject, grade level and cost.
Your kids – believe it or not, your kids actually want to learn and have great ideas! When I was homeschooling, we did some unit studies. We did a whole unit on Ice Cream – studied about the different breeds of cows, how ice cream is made, who invented the ice cream cone (it’s still debated), and of course we made ice cream. If you ask your kids what they want to learn about, they may just surprise you.
While we hope this crisis will pass quickly, we urge you to enjoy this time at home. And please email the library if there’s anything we can do to help you!
This blog post was submitted by Donnelly Public Library District Board Chair, Laura Bettis.