I’m stealing this post from our Family Fun Saskatoon site; it came out of a series of questions the editor asked me. I am obviously no expert, after only homeschooling for one year, but I did learn enough to know that this is not the time to fret about worksheets and test results. This is the time to love our kids and engage with them on many different levels, from reading to practical skills to emotional intelligence. This is not a time to stress over other people’s expectations.

Also, keep in mind that homeschoolers usually have the whole world at their fingertips and don’t always school at home! When we homeschooled, the kids took art, gym, and drama classes. We met up with friends and went to concerts and shows. We visited local Calgary attractions and spent 4 weeks on a road trip in the States. There’s nothing ordinary about this situation, so focus on what’s important, family, kindness, thoughtfulness, love . . . .

Charity is a Calgary mom who homeschooled her children for the 2017 -2018 year. “It was a family decision,” she says, “the best thing for us at the time for a variety of reasons.” Charity remembers this time as both very challenging and very rewarding, and it seems that, for the foreseeable future, many Canadian parents are about to find out what homeschooling is like for themselves. The prospect, no doubt, is daunting for parents who have come into the position of their child’s educator quite suddenly and under such stressful circumstances, so we thought we’d ask a few questions to a Mom who’s been there.

Homeschooling 101 (Family Fun Calgary)

A: How does one start homeschooling?

C: It’s good to start off asking yourself why you’re homeschooling in the first place. What are your goals? For some families, it’s to spend time together. For others, it’s to work on certain skills, subjects or interests. Then you can start building from there. Start slowly and figure out what’s really important to you. For us, we did a lot of reading and focused on solid math skills.

A: What is your top tip for balancing homeschooling with other responsibilities?

C: You need a schedule, even if you’re not a schedule person. And you need to let a lot of things go. Know you won’t get it all done and that’s okay. Some of the most valuable skills we invested in were life skills like cooking and chores which helped with balancing the other work I needed to get done at home. It wasn’t easy and it’s certainly not perfect but we are reaping the benefits. Now, Wednesday night is the kids night to cook. They rotate who does it … but not always willingly! 

A: Do you teach your kids or do they do it mostly themselves?

C: I think this depends on age and personality. My kids did it themselves, mostly, after I got them set up. We did ‘morning time’ all together with reading and discussing whatever the day’s topic was.

A: What are a few things that you did with them?

C: Lots of things. Life skills. We did handwriting. I had them write stories and essays. We listened to audio CDs from the Story of the World. (I actually loved that. It’s basically a brief history of everything.) We did a lot of reading and science experiements and math.

A: When is your coffee break?

C: Ha! When they have screen time or go to bed! 

A: What is the biggest reward of homeschooling?

C: FREEDOM! I loved being in charge of our schedule. We went on a 4-week road trip, saw amazing things, and no one got on my case. We slept in, visited people and did two weeks of study around the Olympics. So much fun.

A: What is the biggest challenge?

C: Time. Deciding what NOT to do. You have to pick and choose. They don’t learn everything at school, and they won’t learn everything at home either, so you have to decide what’s the most important. It can also be tough that the house is never clean or quiet.

A: If you could give a newbie one piece of advice, what would it be?

C: Don’t try to do everything. Remember there is a lot of ‘wasted’ time in school, too. As wonderful as teachers are, there are a limited number of hours in the day. Learning how to learn and be interested in learning is more important than anything. The rest of your life is affected by your attitude toward learning. Take a holistic approach. Inquiry-based learning was made for homeschoolers! Find out what interests your kids and then discover the answers. 

In the upcoming months, Charity will be homeschooling her 3 kids at home alongside the rest of Canadians. When asked if she will continue after school’s back on, she simply says, “Who knows?” A far-reaching sentiment in so many ways right now.

Looking for more tips on how to keep your kids occupied during the COVID-19 crisis? Find our best ideas, activities and inspiration here!