Homeschool and the Business Professional

by Lisa Olde Gelston

The double whammy of closed businesses sending employees home and closed schools sending students home has suddenly created brand new homeschooling opportunities for moms and dads.  Just like that, work-outside-the-home parents all over the country are their children’s teachers, too.  Now what?

As a full time stay-at-home mom (for now) let me start by saying I’m no expert.  I switched careers from engineering and defense intelligence to motherhood – hardest yet best job ever – over thirteen years ago.  I’ve homeschooled my four daughters – another difficult yet wonderful job – for over eight years.  Still, I don’t have it all figured out, nor will I ever pretend to.  Instead, I’m a beautiful mess comfortable in her somewhat-coordinated (but not always) chaotic life.

With that said, first things first.

Breathe.  It’s the secret to long life.  Next…

Break it down.  Chances are, if you’re a business owner, you’re already fairly organized.  Grab your tool of choice – laptop, white board, Day Planner – and get cracking. If your kids’ teachers supply their lesson plans to continue learning at home, use them.  Open your kids’ books and find where they left off.  Lay out both your work calendar and their school schedule and plan their independent assignments during your business calls.

Usually I devote Sunday evening after bedtime to preparing the worksheets for the coming week with my combination of Google Calendar and Excel (nerd alert).  Often I fail to prep and then must wing it, subjecting myself to a multitasking trial by fire through the week, cue circus juggling music.  My advice to you:  prep as much as you can whenever you can; you’ll be thankful you did.

If your kids are old enough, involve them in prepping to get them excited about learning, to teach organization, and to give them a sense of ownership and accountability.

Take advantage.  There are countless online resources – blogs, forums, social groups, etc. – to plug into for ideas, advice, and support.  If your kids’ teachers can provide their material, definitely use it to stay consistent, but if this isn’t an option, check out which offers live online classes for students.  I’ve provided other resource links at the bottom, and a quick Google search will yield even more, including free tools and printables.  Don’t get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of results; anything is better than nothing, just start somewhere.

Outsource.  Your kids’ friends’ parents are in the same boat as you, so combine forces if you can, i.e. trade your math strength for their foreign language skill.  Let your kindergartener read to your fifth grader.  Some college students are home now, too, so hire them to tutor an hour or two each day or week.  Please be mindful of social distancing to keep everyone healthy:  use FaceTime, Hangouts, Skype, etc.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  After all, friends (and wine) are cheaper than therapy.  We all need help, and anyone who says they don’t is lying.

School work doesn’t always equal pencil work.  Legos are awesome for teaching fractions, and Duolingo is fun for foreign language.  Making lunch, washing laundry, yoga, and replacing a headlight bulb are also learning experiences for your students.

Relax.  Especially in the beginning as you figure this out.  Respect the learning curve and throttle back if you need to, on your homeschool and your business if you can, remembering the rest of country is struggling to figure this out, too.  Don’t fixate on starting by 8am sharp.  Give yourself breathing room during the week by letting school spill into the weekend, since weekend activities are cancelled anyway.  Set goals for each day, but stay flexible and don’t beat yourself up if they’re not all met by dinnertime.  Tomorrow is another day.

Give grace.  Lots of it.  To your kids and yourself.  Let them sleep in while you work in peace and quiet, sipping your still-hot morning coffee.  Let them stay in pajamas, or let them go pantless.  Shoot, if you go pantless, no one on your video call will notice (please close the blinds).  As I type this, “pantless” may or may not be the current state of one of my students.  At the risk of sounding cliché, take it one day at a time.  Order delivery for dinner when you need to.  Let the house get messier than you’re used to; it’ll stay standing.

Celebrate wins.  Big ones and small ones.  My favorite thing about homeschooling is the look my daughter gives me as something finally “clicks” in her brain. I can almost see the bright lightbulb just above her head.  Our tradition is for me to exclaim “There it is!” as we high-five.  A dance party ensues on occasion.

And there you have it.  Hopefully a less-daunting way to launch your new homeschool teaching career.  Remember, you set the tone in your home, for better or worse.  If you approach this as a dreaded, dreary chore, your kids will sense it in a nanosecond, and before long tears will flow and everyone will hate life.  Give this the energy and brilliance it deserves and cherish this time with your children.  I won’t tell you to love every minute of it, because if you’re human, you won’t… but I will tell you it’s worth it.  Your kids will remember this phase for the rest of their lives, and so will you.  You got this.  No pressure, just breathe.

Questions?  Email me at [email protected], and I’ll help as I can.  We’ll get through this together.

I use Abeka Academy (faith-based program for preschool through 12th grade), but there are many more programs and curricula available for everyone, such as… (early learning, 2-8 years old) (8-13 years old) (kindergarten through 12th grade) (art, science, engineering, 0-104 years old) (kindergarten through 12th grade)
Classical Conversations (faith-based, 4-12+ years old)

What others have you found?


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