#Lifeathome with #children during #SelfQuarantine: #revising #homeschool expectations so a #parent can #workathome and #write

Thank goodness the weekend is here! I’m allowing the kids to wreak havoc around Bo so I can tuck myself away for a few hours to think over the past week and map out my writing goals.

So while Bo referees our very own reincarnated Marx Brothers

–let’s you and I convalesce a little over some coffee and reconsider how a weekday should go for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

Originally, I wanted the kids to have full school days; around here, that means roughly 8am until 3pm. From Monday to Wednesday, we succeeded in filling those hours with a balance of worksheets, reading, videos, crafting, and games. Blondie commented that she rather liked our setup, which felt like a start. Biff and Bash…well, they didn’t hate it. Some things they loved, like Science experiments and Art, while they bucked me on Writing of all things. Yes, Writing. All my hopes and dreams with prompts crashed hard. It’s not that they hated telling stories so much as they hated being told to write them after already copying down a few facts for handwriting practice. Their tuckered little hands were in no mood to write any longer than necessary. Looks like I better redefine my expectations a bit.

Another concern was having three kids in two very different grades. I feared I’d over-challenge the boys or talk down to Blondie. We avoided this–huzzah! Allowing the kids to work on their own creations during subjects like Geography, Art, and Writing balanced out with working together on things like Science, Bible Study, and Reading. When it comes to school time, it makes a HUGE difference when one can hold a single class for a subject instead of two or three.

But now that Wisconsin is going to keep its schools closed for the next four weeks (at minimum), the kids’ teachers will be sending more materials home for them to complete both online and on paper. Each teacher has different expectations–yes, even Biff and Bash’s teachers, while both teaching 1st grade at the same school, email us completely different things for the boys to do. And there’s still that old problem of not having enough screens to go around–three kids and two computers. Who’s going to get what done and when?

Throw my own needs as a teacher and writer into the mix, and…yeah.

So I tried a little change-up on Thursday and Friday: I condensed the school-day down to a half-day so I could get my own grading done. By dedicating roughly half an hour per class, I managed to cover all the major items along with a few rotating specials with a break in the middle of the morning to throw everyone outside for playtime.

Success! I graded, the kids learned…something, I think, and no one felt the need to strangle anyone else.

The weird thing is, part of me doesn’t like it. I feel like there needs to be a full school day in order for the day to be “proper.” Am I alone in this? Probably. But like millions of other parents, I have to accept the fact that NOTHING is proper right now. Our world’s in crisis mode, and everyone’s just got to do what they can to keep moving forward. No one’s going to have a normal workday. No one’s going to have a normal school day. It just ain’t happenin’ this spring.

I also have to keep in mind that my kids need time to complete what their own teachers are asking for; it’s awfully hard for them to swing this if I’m saddling them with oodles of other stuff. So, this coming week I’m only going to stick with the half-day schedule. After lunch I can help the boys take turns online with whatever their teachers send them while Blondie locks herself away in her room to with her own homework. Then, Lord-willing, I can tackle MY course work. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a system that has time for everyone to move forward.

That just leaves the writing.

This week I FINALLY did some storytelling–just a bit of microfiction, but something’s better than nil, right? I’ve also got a couple short stories I’ve been working on that I’d love to get out to some online mags. Yes, Fallen Princeborn: Chosen is still on the editing table, but it’s bloody hard focusing on a five-book arc with the kids CONSTANTLY at home. Perhaps Camp NaNoWriMo can help me re-discover my Writing Self! Granted, this new schedule only frees up maybe half an hour to an hour of writing time a day, but that’s still more than I’ve had aaaaaaall bloody winter.

And how about you, my friends? What are you reading? Don’t forget that there’s some great FREE stories to read through my old publisher, Aionios Books! What are you writing? What are you doing to stay sane with your children? Pass the coffee and the cookies. Time I take a quiet sip and let you do the talking.

STAY TUNED! I’ll share a few successful homeschool lessons, another lovely indie author interview, hopefully some music, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand a chance to betaread one of those short stories.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

30 thoughts on “#Lifeathome with #children during #SelfQuarantine: #revising #homeschool expectations so a #parent can #workathome and #write

  1. I’m reading J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. I have a blog post in progress and an ongoing memoir. No kids in school at my house (God bless you), just me, but hubby is home, so it’s kind of interesting to see him work. So many conference calls.

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    • Memoir! Sounds like a lovely WIP. I’ve a collection of books I grabbed from the library before it closed–some Jeff VanderMeer, some Phillip Pullman, and I’ve not cracked a cover yet. Hopefully this new half day will force ME to read just like I make my kids read. 🙂

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  2. I had been reading Carl Sagan’s – Contact but when news of the Asterix creators sad passing I’ve been going through my Asterix comics. It’s a difficult one with the schooling. It’s this uncomfortable halfway house. It’s not homeschooling, it’s schools version. Don’t get the full freedom and don’t get the full school discipline. But it does sound like your making the most of the tough situation. Happy writing. x

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  3. In my experience of teaching one-to-one – which I’ve been doing now for over a decade, is that sessions needs to be a lot shorter than a class. Now I know you are teaching three children together, but it is still a more intense dynamic than the classroom, where there is one teacher to 30+ children (in our schools, anyway) with perhaps a single classroom assistant. And now you are down to a single adult teaching 3 children – they don’t have the same opportunities to stare out of the window and zone out. They cover more ground, are on task more of the time and focus and work harder – they genuinely need more downtime. So don’t worry about the shorter teaching time – I reckon they are pacing themselves naturally to their ability to absorb what you are offering:). Best of luck! It sounds like you are doing a grand job:)).

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    • You’re absolutely right! If we crack down in the morning, there’s no reason why we can’t let the kids take it easy in the afternoon. These guys are such awesome little workers–so long as Bash doesn’t get overwhelmed, we can make the mornings great! And then I can maybe, just maybe, fell better about my own work. 🙂 Thank YOU for being a wonderful friend and support! xxxxxxxxxx

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      • Yes- what Sjhigbee said! I’ve got a number of friends who’ve homeschooled (especially with all the military families, sometimes it’s just easiest when you’re family’s going to be moving around) and the consensus is that the days will be MUCH shorter than full classroom days, and that’s ok! There’s more opportunity for the kids to do enrichment stuff and personalize their learning, and to use the afternoon (when they’re tired anyway!) to do that sort of stuff. Even my kids’ distance learning is focusing on doing “seat work” types of things in the morning, leaving time for play, outdoors, chores and just reading in the p.m.
        In other words, no guilt if the days go fast, Lady Jean! And integrating times where you work and their learning is more “free form” (I love the phrase “practicing fine motor skills” – that’s play dough, legos, anything using their fingers!- it’s developmentally important, and it makes just having fun sound so official! :D)
        God bless your efforts- they are well taken care of. Make sure you find ways to take care of you, too. xxxxx

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      • Oh, thank you so much, Anne! I know you’ve been in the thick of it for a while now; I’m still trying to wrap my head around the vastly different expectations the teachers send to our kids and balancing that out with what we do at home. It. Is. HARD. Like you say, we just have to take it easy, just have to give them some time to work it out on their own, too, and it’s okay if not all is done. Uffdah!
        Hugs to you from Wisconsin!

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  4. My husband’s school holiday ends on Monday and he’ll start the online teaching via Google classroom. I asked him how this would work time-wise and he said that all subjects (this is high school) are halving the number of lessons each week on the basis that more will get done at home without the interruptions of a full classroom. I also saw something from a home-school specialist here who said that especially for younger children, so long as they are stimulated in some way, not too worry too much about trying to mimic school lessons. I guess that’s how the Montessori system works to some extent, although I have no experience of it.
    Look after yourself, Jean 🙂

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    • Ah, I know the Montessori system! It’s a bit loosey-goosey to me, but you’re quite right that here in this stage, a little loose goose isn’t a bad idea. 🙂 I’ll be interested to hear how your husband likes Google Classroom. I think it’s got a lot of good qualities to it, but online learning just isn’t for everyone. And your writing! How’s it coming along?

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      • Cliff likes Google Classroom. The school uses it a lot already for homework, school reports and grades and other communications. It seems to be fairly widely used in the schools here.
        As for my writing, my novel is coming along pretty well, thank you 🙂 … and you see each week how else I distract myself with stories.
        I lost one of my main clients last week. He has a photography studio and framing business which has had to close during lockdown and he says he can’t afford to pay me. It’s not a train-smash. Looking on the bright side, it’s more time for writing or possibly for marketing my cheepy-cheep ebooks.
        Keep well, stay safe 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, poop. But as you say, this is a rough time for everyone, and now you can focus more on your projects. And I’m glad to hear Cliff likes it! I’m still getting the hang of it, but I’m hopeful to make better use of it in the coming weeks. xxxxx

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  5. I’m going completely mad. I was convinced I commented on this. It’s an age thing….Was reading Carl Sagan’s Contact (for the millionth time) but after the Asterix creator sad passing I’ve dug out my old comics and relived the wonderful Gaul stories. It’s tough in this halfway house. Parents/kids don’t get the full freedom of homeschooling yet they don’t get the full regime of mainstream schooling. It sounds like you are doing a great job navigating this tricky new normal. Take care. xx Off to find my brain now.

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  6. Completely agree – one adult per three kids is much more efficient and intense than one adult per thirty 😉 so, no use beating yourself about it, especially since you need to prepare for the long haul and not lose either patience or motivation! Good luck! 😀

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  7. It sounds like you’re all working really well on making this work. What great stories you’ll all have to tell about this time!

    I’m so impressed by your work-load. We’ve no children, but I’m still struggling to include my writing time in my schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve got to make the writing time work, or I’ll go INSANE. I finally had some time in the afternoon thanks to Bo playing games with the kiddos, and it felt so good to work! God-willing I meet the 31st–a deadline I’ve met for m’self 🙂

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