If you are a parent of a school-aged child, there’s a good chance that you have just been launched into the exciting, and sometimes scary, world of home education. I would like to be the first to say, “Welcome!”

Unlike those of us who researched, planned, and prepared for some time for this endeavor, you had no say in the matter as the COV-ID19 pandemic made the choice for you. We at North Carolinians for Home Education are here for you. We believe that whether it is for the next few weeks or for years to come, YOU can homeschool with confidence and joy! We will support you with the information and resources you need at this critical time.

One thing that many people are asking is how to set up a homeschool. While that may be a decision you eventually make, if your child is already enrolled in a public or private school that is temporarily closed, it is not necessary to open your own homeschool at this point. In fact, you may find it impossible to withdraw them during this time, so it is best to look at your situation more along the lines of distance learning. However, it is a great opportunity to have a trial run at something that many of us have grown to love: pursuing education with our children.

So from my 20+ years of homeschooling, what would I say to you if we could sit down for a chat about this surprise you’ve been given?

  • Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and relax. You can do this! I want to encourage you today to look at this as a blessing in disguise. The next few weeks can be a wonderful time for your family to reconnect, recharge, and perhaps learn some new skills together.
  • While you are in relaxation mode, consider relaxing some of the rules. Let everyone sleep in a little; perhaps consider loosening the screen time limits. Have breakfast for dinner, or have family movie night in the middle of the week instead of Friday. Invite your children to take turns leading a family devotion time each afternoon. Work to instill an atmosphere of peace and joy in your home.  
  • Bring out the games! There are so many ways we learn as we play board games. Money skills, arithmetic, logic, strategizing, vocabulary, etc. These are just a few of the strengths that games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride can bring out in your child. They may even realize they like learning about them as they play. You might even want to check out some new games to order from a small business near you to support others. 
  • Check out all the resources that are being offered to help families stay active, positive, and informed through virtual connections. From zoos giving daily visits with their animals to virtual tours of Buckingham Palace, fitness classes to ballet lessons, historical videos to famous actors doing an evening story-time, the wonders of the Internet can be a fun way to enhance the lessons your child may be getting from their school system.
  • Don’t try to recreate your child’s classroom at home. Your home is just that – a home. It should be comfortable, personalized to your family’s needs and style, and reflect those who are a part of it. Don’t feel pressured to meet anyone’s expectations. Find what works for you. And be warned that, as is always true with parenting, what worked yesterday may no longer work today.  
  • Have a family meeting. Work together to organize a family chore plan, meal plan, and a routine for the day.  Having everyone’s input helps your children understand that they are a valuable part of the family unit, and feeling heard goes a long way in getting them to help out with a positive attitude.
  • Speaking of attitude, let’s have grace for each other including ourselves. Our worlds have been shaken, whether we are a child who has suddenly lost their anticipated field trip and been cut off from their friends or an adult who is concerned about losing their job, finding toilet paper, and keeping their family healthy. Everyone is going to have moments when stress gets the better of them. Give each other space when you need it and a listening ear when someone needs to share their heart. Anticipate meltdowns, and be ready with a shoulder to cry on or a fun diversion to break the tension.  
  • Take advantage of this extended “vacation” to pursue those things that tend to get put on the back burner in our typically busy lives. Take walks in the woods, learn how to bake bread together, finally finish that crochet project, or start a spring garden.  
  • Look for ways to serve the community around you. This is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. They can make cards to mail to the elderly who are shut-in at a nearby nursing home, call (yes, there is still such a thing, kiddos!) grandparents or other senior citizens to check in on them and cheer them up. Do yard work for a neighbor. 

I realize that not much of this has to do with classroom learning. There is a time and place for that, but as veteran homeschoolers will tell you, the learning that sticks with you through life is the learning you acquire through living it. Do those worksheets that the teachers will email you, and watch the online instructions form their virtual classrooms. Those are the meat and potatoes of your new diet, waiting to be spiced up with the vast array of options available to you. 

You have been given an amazing gift that is a rarity in our modern times. You may not have looked at it that way when it was given to you, and it may be a struggle to see it that way as time goes on. But for today, take a moment to feel gratitude for the chance to be together and let inspiration fill your soul.  

We are here to support all families in North Carolina as they step into the brave new world of home education. So whether you are here for the short-term, or you decide you like what you are tasting and want to stick around for the long-term, North Carolinians for Home Education is here every day, working to protect your rights to homeschool, equipping you with the information and encouragement you need, and connecting you with other homeschool families in your community and across the state. 

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments or contact our Homeschool Helps Director, Amanda Wares, amanda.wares@nche.com. Let us know how we can help you today!