Practical Tips for Doing School at Home

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I love to look at those Pinterest pictures of people who have epically failed at trying something because it makes me feel better about my meagre attempts. Like the time I tried to curl my hair using a YouTube tutorial and landed up with clumps of my hair sticking straight out sideways! We’ve had massive fails at Family Night where there have been tantrums and game pieces getting thrown around. And Sunday morning church services on our couch with one child flopping around like a jellyfish while the other huffs and puffs over not being able to sort football cards during the message. Nope, not posting those pictures.

Maybe you think there should also be a certain look to your school day as well? A perfect feel, a specific spot, a magical schedule? In my experience there is no perfect way to do school. Look at the difference between your kids’ classrooms at school and their own teachers. Everyone has their own unique style and so will you. It takes a while to find a groove so give yourself some space and time to try different things. But please, try them for a while before giving up on them. It also helps to pray about what to change. God has a lot of really great practical ideas! However, there are a few things I have found that work better than others. Here they are:

Clean Up Your Thoughts

This requires putting a stop to saying and thinking all those negative things. You know, “I can’t, I don’t want to, I never wanted this…” Those aren’t helping you. The sooner you stop repeating those things, the quicker you can move forward. Doing school at home is hard but you can do this. How do I know? Jesus! He told us, “My power is made perfect in weakness, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. So be gracious with yourself when you mess up but then pick yourself right back up and try again tomorrow.

Designate A Space

It helps to have a place to do school. Choose a place to do school and a place for storing the books. I tried our basement. We had cute desks and a white board but after 2 weeks I didn’t like it so we moved to the kitchen table. Try something and if it’s not working try something else.

Have A Consistent Time

Mornings are best because we are alert and all the worries and annoyances of the day haven’t happened yet. We don’t always begin school at the same time but we always do math and language arts in the morning. We tackle the hardest subjects, which are also the subjects we need to do first thing, and then if things go off the rails later at least we got those done.

Take Breaks

Kids need time to move. Make space for breaks. Your break could be going outside. And especially take breaks when one or all of you are losing it and the relationship is going to be in jeopardy. Sometimes all my boys need is to run around our kitchen island or up and down the stairs a few times to help them get their emotions back under control.

Offer Rewards

Who doesn’t like incentives? When the boys were younger, we made a huge thermometer and for each subject that they were able to complete well and with a good attitude they would get to color in a bar. We made it a three-week chart where at the end we had a reward for them such as a LEGO set or going somewhere special.

As a parent I’ve often been unsure about which to use: the stick versus the carrot. Do I use rewards or threaten punishment? I like to start with the carrot. But I also explain to my kids that if this isn’t helping them, we can go the other route. Usually the carrot works.

Guard Their Eyes

Our kids are doing a lot of their school online. Moms have been telling me that their teens just do their work on their own, or that their younger kids can do most of their work on the iPad. Now I am all for independence and getting our kids to take the initiative when it comes to their learning. That skill will really help them when they get into a university or college. What concerns me is what they could inadvertently click on and be exposed to while spending that much time online. So, this would be a good time to have a chat with them about what not to click on and making sure you have good parent controls on their devices. Encourage them to come and tell you if they see something so you can figure it out with them. They need to know, especially when they are younger, that they didn’t do anything wrong by seeing it. What you don’t want is for your child to feel ashamed and hide it from you so that it festers away inside their minds. Pop in on your older kids every now and then to check on them as well. I’m not trying to make this a big issue but I am reminded that the devil is always on the prowl and we need to be careful. We need to help our teens and our younger children stay safe on the internet so stay involved in their education and keep the door open to talk.

Take Care of Yourself

I wish I could come and hug you. Or just sit 6 feet away from you and have coffee with you so I could see your face and listen as you tell me how it’s going in your home. This is not easy. Teaching your own kids is not easy! Doing school at home with multiple teachers to connect with and so many emails is overwhelming. I don’t know what that is like, but I do know the pressure I feel to do school right, or to fit every subject into our day, or to try and manage multiple kids yelling at me at the same time. I also know you have to take care of yourself during this time. Get rest, go soak in the tub or stand in your shower for a long time. Read a fluffy book or go for a walk by yourself. Eat a snack and don’t feel guilty. Put on make-up or just shave your legs. Be kind to yourself when you mess up. Speak encouraging words to yourself. And above all…

Pray

Everyday. Multiple times. Don’t stop.

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and He will help you.”

Psalm 37:5

I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown a lot through doing school at home and so will you. I’ve made the choice to submit my heart and life to God because I know it’s going to be worth it all in the end. I now see fruit in my life because of my time as a homeschooling mom. God also has good plans for YOU in this. He will refine you, encourage you and work through you if you let Him.

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Bonnie Koop

Bonnie is “just” a stay-at–home mom for two energetic boys and the wife of a sports and music-loving husband. She loves Jesus and is trying to live a life that reflects that. Her desire is to see others come into a deep relationship with Jesus and experience the love and life change that our heavenly Father brings. And so in her “spare” time she helps write material and teach at Southland’s Selah mom’s program. Oh, and if having coffee with friends can be considered a hobby then she is all over that!

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