I’m not an educator. I’m a writer and a stay-at-home mom who wears many hats. And now, like many of you, I have added a new job title to the resume: homeschooler.
Okay, I’m more the enforcer of the block schedule and the TA to the Zoom session. But in going into this new temporary role, I needed to do a little bit of prep work to hopefully ease our transition…by creating a school space.
I scoured the internet and listened to fellow homeschool moms for tips and tricks about how to time manage the work and schoolwork, all while keeping, at minimum, an ounce of sanity. The bottom line: know your children, know that what works for someone else may not work for you, and be flexible until you find what works for you. For us, this looks very similar to Neidy’s post on block scheduling.
Also, in one of the many emails from our school district and teachers, one line stuck out to me.
“We encourage you to set up a quiet workspace, where you will have your work handy and be able to focus without distractions.”
It was such a simple suggestion, and yet, it seemed vital. Think about how we work as adults. We work at a desk with our necessities within easy reach, the kitchen with spices and utensils at close hand, or as a sales rep with our marketing materials in a rolling briefcase.
For traditional schooling, our children are used to having a designated place for their school items, a specific seat in the classroom, and clear expectations. Why change?
Pick a Location for your School Space:
For us, it’s the dining room. Social distancing aside, it’s the least used space in our house. It’s also the place my middle schooler typically does his homework. We could “school” there without disrupting the rest of the house. Everyone would be visible – not sluffing off in the bedroom, or lounging in front of the TV – and when we’re not in session, the rest of the house is still functional.
Incorporate the child(ren):
I had a plan in my head. My children had a different idea. We have two antique school desks in the toy room. They begged to use them, because, why not? As much as I didn’t want to clutter up the new school space, I realized these desks created a sense of normalcy for them.
Take a moment to organize:
Just like during school, they don’t have ALL their supplies ON their desk ALL the time. We designated a place for each child’s books and notebooks, and a community bin for pencils, crayons, and headphones. Just like the suggestion said, what they will need is close at hand.
Here’s were a bit of flexibility comes in. Our plan is for Zoom sessions to be at their seats with headphones in use. However, if the child needs to interact more with the meeting, we may consider an alternate Zoom Room or location, i.e., the kitchen. It’ll allow everyone to still work, but with limited distractions. We also have a designated charging place for devices when not in use.
Now, I understand that not everyone has the luxury of a dining room table (we’ve only had ours a year). Our usual go-to is the kitchen table. Do what works for your household. Create a place for learning and a place where all the schoolwork goes when not in use. If your learning spot is the coffee table, perfect. If it’s a folding table in the hallway, that’s fine, too. While we will block schedule for morning school, some parents will need to work remotely during regular business hours, and thus night school is their option.
We’re all encountering this new, temporary, normal-for-now. Be gracious with yourself and your children. Nothing has to be perfect or pretty, just functional. Hang in there.