Maid, Chef, Janitor, Mother, and now, full-time homeschooling teacher. Wearing all those extra hats is probably why us moms are more tired and exhausted than usual. As a mother of eleven kids, with six currently living at home, I completely sympathize with you! My children are still trying to understand our new routine and my special needs kids especially struggle with the change. In my last article, I shared How to Actually Help Kids with Crisis I firmly believe in helping our children with love and compassion. As far as homeschooling multiple children are concerned, allow me to share ten new tips on how I am successfully doing homeschooling in our house and lots of helpful printables to make this work for your home.
Age-Appropriate Crisis Education:
Crisis Education does not have to be complex. Depending on the age and ability of your children, the conversation can be simple and direct. In our home we have numerous ages and levels of learning; so we chose to have a family meeting.
- We gently explained why the kids were not allowed in schools at this time.
- Further explained about the Coronavirus illness and what it means to be really sick.
- We discussed that sometimes people are afraid of things they do not understand.
- Sometimes people do or say unkind things when they are afraid.
- After basic explanations, we opened up our family discussion.
Children asked questions on things they did not understand or were concerned about. We kept our answers truthful and brief. If further discussion was needed, we spoke to that specific child in a separate setting. Children can sometimes experience trauma simply by not knowing. It is important to acknowledge a child’s worries and help educate them, allowing them to have some control in the situation. Update children as times require through simple and direct methods.
Home Schooling 101
While I hold a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Human Services and a Master’s degree in Public Administration; the thought of homeschooling my children for the next several months left me in a state of panic. How in the world could I accommodate ALL OF THEIR NEEDS and fulfill my household duties I need too? I was simply overwhelmed and completely beside myself with this new task. – I’m sure many of you can relate.
Well, here we are a month and a bit later and I have a humble appreciation for child educators. All our children (and Mom) are still alive and learning the best way we can manage. No, I am not any more thrilled with the idea of home school than before, however; we do have a system that seems to work.
Our Homeschooling System for a Big Family
To assist in the chaos surrounding our new learning environment, we chose to appoint each child a special responsibility while we were “in class”. My eleven-year-old daughter was on the Student Council this year. So, we decided to take jobs from there and apply them to our online school experience.
- Breakfast Buddy: assists with breakfast set-up and clean-up.
- Morning Greeter: welcomes everyone to school, gives daily announcements (mom helps with this).
- Librarian: responsible for checking out books and school supplies in our home library.
- Peer Tutor: assists kids with homework instruction, reading comprehension, and filling supplies.
- Computer Technician: sets up and sanitizes the Chrome books or tablets. Also, it puts everything away when school is finished.
- Lunch Aid: assists with lunch preparation and clean-up.
We rotate these six positions every week so each child has the opportunity to understand new roles.
Why Swapping Roles Works:
Honestly, it has been fun and enjoyable to see their creative minds explore different jobs. My kids love these responsibilities and we can already see a noteworthy, positive difference. Empowering the children through their contributions, will boost self-confidence and teach valuable skills.
Our Daily School Day:
Our daily school day starts at 9 am done in two shifts. The first shift is from 9-11:30 am.
- First shift consists of the younger kids doing school work.
- While the little ones work, the big kids can help, play educational games, art projects or science projects.
- Lunch is at noon.
- Then 12:30 to 3pm the older kids work online while the younger ones do projects and play educational games.
To successfully make learning fun and engaging (on so many levels) it requires some serious effort and time. Thankfully, we have acquired needed resources to support our children’s various learning styles through educational games, flashcards, charts, and resource books. Most items were purchased on Amazon you can check out my suggested list here. I am happy to say these resources have made a world of difference in our home-learning experience. With a variety of mediums to explore and play with, we have more education happening than we anticipated.
3 Ways We Stay on Track for Learning:
- We divided the children into two groups. Half the kids are expanding their craniums in the online learning platforms; while the other half are playing educational games on the floor or engaged in other methods of education.
- Visual Timer:
- We use our timer to transition to different activities and help reduce behavioral problems.
- We have Recess (three ten-minute breaks) during our classes online. These rests support a more engaged learning environment with minimal distractions or loss of interest.
- Water and Snacks:
- Water is freely given anytime.
- Snacks- there’s a three-time limit. This reduces the amount of distraction due to growling tummies.
How to Plan Meals and Healthy Snacks for Homeschooling Hours:
Many families have specific nutrition needs that require some level of planning to ensure proper meals and healthy snacks each day. Some families deal with severe food allergies and additional health issues that require a regimented diet; which is more difficult in crisis situations where specific foods may be difficult to purchase. Of course, even our best efforts are derailed if we are not consistently preparing for times of crisis. Thankfully, our family does not have serious food allergies. We do, however deal with emotional eaters and food sensory issues; so planning healthy meals and snacks that support our budget is necessary and helpful.
Healthy Meal and Snack Officer:
In our family, we have a: Healthy Meal and Snack Officer. Their job is to help choose snacks for each day of the week. They also contribute ideas for daily healthy meals and participate in food preparation. This opportunity allows time for parent/child bonding as well as new learning to take place. This education can help calm fears of food or water shortages; while we teach our children to be grateful and not wasteful. As the role of the Healthy Meal and Snack Officer changes; so does our opportunity to teach the next child. We’ve found this article with this printable helpful when planning our meals for the week out with our kids.
Readily Available Snacks:
While kids are home enrolled in online schooling, we allow each child to pick from a snack basket three times a per day. This basket contains a variety of prepackaged snacks or fresh fruits and veggies. After three snacks, their snacks are done for the day.
We encourage drinking water by giving each child a cup with their name and make tally marks for every 8 oz cup they consume. This is great fun as the kids compete to outdo one another. Once the child reaches their eight-cup limit for the day, they are awarded a privilege or small reward of some kind.
Time Out for Parents: Take Care of YOU:
TIME OUT for Mommies and Daddies is critical not only for one’s sanity but the structural well-being of the entire family unit…. no pressure! Caregivers of all kinds make long, daily sacrifices that will eventually cost more than we anticipate. This process may manifest itself in many forms. Some common ones might include: increased physical or mental health issues, inability to perform professionally, insomnia, weight loss or weight gain as well as decreased ability to relate positively with other people. When we reach the point of more negative (than positive) interaction with others; we are simply defeating the exact thing we are working so hard to accomplish. You would never put $5 in your gas tank and expect to make it across the country, but you get the idea.
Give yourself at least twenty minutes for self-care. Methods of self-care might include: a twenty-minute walk around the block, a phone call to a friend or family member, deep breathing, a personal prayer, ponder your favorite scripture verse or uplifting quote, give yourself a butterfly hug, and CRY (this is one of my personal favorites), exercise, meditate and journal writing. If resources allow, try something more in-depth such as a professional massage, gardening, floral arranging, scrapbooking. Learn a new skill or even engage in professional counseling (been there, done that… no shame!). You can implement shorter bouts of self-care several times a day depending on your availability. Brainstorm ideas with your partner or personal friend.
Although many of us are currently living under “stay at home” mandates, we can view this as an opportunity to slow the pace, re-evaluate our lifestyle or personal habits. Yes, homeschooling our children (and different ages) is a new challenge for many of us- but we can do hard things! Look at this time as an opportunity to make necessary changes in areas that may have been neglected due to time constraints. So, take it slow with your family; be patient and kind to yourself. As long as you are doing your best in the schooling department and the children are still learning- it’s a win! It can be difficult to downshift from fast-paced lifestyles. Taking time to self-center every day you’ll find you are more patient and flexible with others, you sleep more soundly, you enjoy your children more, life simply feels happier. Your family deserves a HEALTHY & HAPPY mom- so take care of yourself!
Love, Health and Best Wishes,