Homeschooling: Advice for Hawaii Parents affected by COVID-19 School Closings

Don’t worry too much, it’s not as bad as you think…

Well, it’s official.  All public schools in Hawaii will remain closed until April 7th.  

In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the news of Hawaii school closures is met with anxiety and stress for many parents. Especially the ones who will have to stay home with the kids. As a Hawaii homeschooling mom of 2, here’s some homeschooling advice to help you stay calm and focused so you can survive the next few weeks.

Keep it Simple
Let them set their own schedules with their teachers

Keep in touch with your childs teacher. If he/she is given homework, don’t feel obligated to keep to a strict schedule.  My children, who are 10 and 12  decide what activities they want to do during the day and when they want to do it.  For example, my daughter likes to do her online classes on Outschool in the mornings and her workbook/homework in the evenings. My son wakes up early and does his workbook first thing in the morning so he can enjoy the rest of the day. The younger the child, the more outdoor playtime they will need. Children are more flexible than you think and can adjust quickly to a new routine if you keep things simple. If old enough, let them choose their schedule and find their own groove.

Don’t Try to Act Like a Teacher.
Let them find their passion, take time to learn about your child’s gifts.

As parents, we are facilitators, not teachers.  Homeschooling is not about creating a teacher-student relationship, leave that for the real teachers in school.  Homeschoolers recreate school for their children at home because they believe that homeschooling is about the parent-child relationship.  Use this time to really get to know your child’s special gifts, we all have them. 

Read, Read, Read
Reading can take you on numerous journeys, including publishing a book!

If anything, reading should be on the top of your list of things to do. My children routinely borrow books from our local library, but now that the libraries here in Hawaii are closing we support our local thrift shop; Savers and Goodwill. If you go on certain days of the week, there’s always a sale on books for as low as $1.  Let your child choose a few books, don’t focus on the kind of book, it really doesn’t matter as long as they are reading. When they are done reading the books, donate them back and get a 25% discount on your next purchase.  Audio books are also great, if you can’t get to a thrift shop, and if worse comes to worse, just ask Alexa: “Alexa, read me a story” and she’ll get right on it.  

Journal their Daily Activities

Leah writing in her journal
Leah writes in her journal

Every day both of my children write a full page of what they did in a composition book.  It’s a great way to practice creative writing, spelling and more importantly good habits.  Make it a daily thing, year-round.  After a year or so have them re-read what they wrote when they were younger, they’ll have a good laugh and you will too.

Bust Out the Boardgames

Hawaii Homeschooling Boardgames
When all else fails, its boardgame time!

We don’t have a huge supply of board games except for chess, but we do have a lot of card games, including UNO.  We tend to leave the games out on the coffee table so the kids have access to it whenever they start “getting bored”.   There are hundreds of different card games to play, such as Crazy 8, War and Rummy.  If anything they’ll learn strategy, patience and focus which is what we’ll all need to get through these next few weeks.

Write to a Pen Pal

Gather addresses from friends and family and have your kids write letters or send cards for upcoming birthdays and celebrations.  Grandparents will appreciate receiving a handwritten letter, drawing or poem in the mail – makes it more special.

Plant a Small Garden

With all the youtube videos on how to make your own compost pile or how to start your own garden, there’s really no excuse not to do one.  We just looked for items in our refrigerator that we could replant and started there.  The kids start taking care of the plants themselves – especially since they are being graded if it lives or dies.

Create Video Memories

Give your child a video camera or iPhone and let them make some home videos.  Watch their imagination come to life, especially when given a specific challenge; “I want you to make a movie about…” and include some prize money if the video made you laugh.  You’ll find this activity can take hours, depending on the topic and how involved they get. Play them back and have a good laugh.

While I understand that some virtual learning is important, it shouldn’t be the basis for all of your homeschooling.  Homeschool moms don’t stress about making sure our kids are busy or on a schedule, we focus on what our kids are doing and if they are learning something and enjoying that learning in the process.  

This is your opportunity to use social distancing as a time to relax and find your child’s inner artist. Allow them to play, sing, cook, dance, run around and do art.  This is also your time to take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to get up early or rush from activity to activity after school.  We don’t know how long we will all be confined to our homes due to the Covid-19 virus, but what we can do is make the most out of this uncertain situation we are in.

Be kind to yourself, don’t get overwhelmed. The most important thing right now is to limit the arguments, fights, and tantrums (and you will have them) in the household by finding the right balance in your new homeschooling life.

You got this Mama, you can do it! I’m right there with you…

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