Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Me? Homeschool?

If you would have asked me a month ago if I'd be open to homeschooling my kids, I would have grieved at the thought of losing my days at home alone. I love them - productive, but slow and calm. Very free of clutter. But I suppose something has to change psychologically about your willingness to try something when it's not a choice.

At school pick-up at 2:47 on Friday, a mom-friend of mine read a headline from Madison.com - Madison schools to move spring break up one week, add staff-only days. All the parents were frustrated that the district didn't send us an email announcing this. Looking back, I should have been slower to accuse poor communication in a time such as this. I can't imagine the stress of being a decision maker before closing public places and cancelling events was the thing to do.

I went into the weekend thinking that I had Monday and Tuesday to prepare for having the kids home for a couple of weeks. But by Sunday afternoon, an email from the district went out announcing that schools were closed effective immediately. We were standing in a gorgeous park with some friends [6 feet apart!] when Joel read the news. I'm pretty sure I did a toddler jump/stomp because I was so annoyed. But from that moment on, something shifted in me and I was actually kind of excited to lay out our plan.

Lake Farm County Park - lovely trails for adult walking with a mini-forest for kids to explore!
That evening, I scanned some online articles about how to be at home with your kids during a pandemic and was reminded of how much kids like routine. I like routine too, I thought. So I borrowed Cora's white board from a teacher kit that she got for Christmas, and started sketching it out. Here's the first version.

Overall, day one was a good day. Around 8:50, after math, Cora said, I like homeschool so far! Reading time was too short, mostly because everyone wants to have a turn with an online game or reading app in addition to independent reading and reading/writing worksheets. Art was also too short because that is hands down all three kids' favorite subject (well, second to recess). Recess was too short. This was obvious after I observed how perfectly content they are outside without my supervision while I can get stuff done in. So Monday night, I made some changes to our school schedule. This was our schedule for day two:

7 a.m. - Wake, get dressed, and eat breakfast
7:45 - Bible time
8 a.m. - Foreign language
8:20 - Math
9 a.m. - Free choice
9:45 - Clean up (from free choice) + snack
10:15 - Chores + recess
11 a.m. - Reading/letters/sounds
11:45 - Music/piano practice
12:15 - Lunch
12:45 - Science
1:15 - Art
2 p.m. - Recess
2:30 - Snack + adventure/outing

Nate found a couple of apps for our iPads and I subscribed to education.com, which has proven super helpful. Thank goodness for free art classes like this and this! For foreign language learning, we've been using Mango Languages, which is free to access through our public library. 

I'm sure I could come up with some cool science demos to do with the kids, but our school pointed us to Brainpop.com as a good resource for teaching kids about the new coronavirus, so we used it again today to learn about making observations. It's a bit tricky finding a good balance between Louisa's 3rd grade level of learning and Peter's pre-K one, but I'm pretty much operating on a something is better than nothing and routine is key to keep myself sane level.

Learning to draw a leprechaun...all together...without arguing
Ugh. I'm all of the sudden feeling guilty about my intense privilege that allows me to be home to do anything with my kids, let alone a pretty sweet schedule of good learning, play and outdoor time. Dear Jesus, help me to do something good with this realization of my privilege, not be bogged down in guilt by it.

As my neighbor said today [from her car, 6 feet away!], getting outside is the only saving grace. We plan to embrace that saving grace by doing an afternoon adventure/outing every afternoon. Yesterday we went back to Lake Farm County Park and found some new paths and a boardwalk. Today we road our bikes to some nearby parks, crossing two pedestrian overpasses that the kids were pretty excited about. Immediately when we got home, they all jumped right back into drawing classes from KidsArtHub - choosing a dragon and a cartoon s'more. Not sure where the art gene slipped in, but I'll take it!

At night, when I sing Peter his goodnight songs, he always asks what we're going to do the next day and 95% of the time wants his last song to highlight that. Tonight it veered a bit. Instead of asking me to sing about another day of homeschool, he asked me to sing about the pizza that we plan to have for dinner tomorrow. Shoot, his mom-teacher didn't quite make his top one list. Oh well, I have a few more days to work towards that goal.

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