In the last several months, most of us have had our lives turned upside down. First, there was learning to homeschool in times of crisis while dealing with quarantines, with social distancing. Followed by big “life events” being canceled. Then, worst of all, family members getting sick or even dying. Add in the angst of the riots and the civil unrest the world has been experiencing and it’s a recipe for a lot of overwhelmed and distracted children and parents.
During difficult seasons of life, it can be extremely hard, if not impossible, to keep up with the homeschool lessons we have planned out for our children. And that just adds to our feelings of overwhelm.
8 Easy Ways To Homeschool Elementary In Times Of Crisis
Fortunately, one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is that it’s flexible. We don’t have to follow anyone else’s schedule. And we don’t even have to do everything we planned on doing for our kids to learn. In fact, they will often learn more when we put down the regular school books and allow our kids to experience real-life learning, even during times of crisis.
Some people mistakenly think that learning is best done with traditional teaching methods such as kids listening to lectures and reading textbooks. But nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, there are many more relaxed ways, especially for elementary children to learn which are just effective. Some even more so, than the more formal methods used in brick and mortar schools.
Rather than allowing trying to force everyone to keep up with our normal homeschooling schedules, it’s important to put utilize some of these less formal learning methods when families are going through difficult seasons.
How to Homeschool Elementary Kids In Times Of Crisis
1 – Have the Kids Pitch In
Put aside the regular lessons so your kids can help with whatever tasks need to be done. If Grandma needs extra care, have children learn to prepare special meals. Read aloud to her to keep her from feeling lonely or write special notes to lift her spirits.
If Mom is sick have the kids learn how to help out with even more household chores. They can learn how to do their schoolwork a bit more independently, or help younger siblings with their lessons.
2 – Take a Break from Homeschooling
When your kiddos are young, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking off a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months so that you can take care of everything that’s going on in your life. It’s better to keep the peace in your home than to get the lessons done but to have everyone weighed down by anxiety and to be on edge.
3 – Read Books or Read Aloud to Them
If you have time for nothing else in your day, let your kids read. Provide them with a stack of great nonfiction books about a topic that interests them. Give them some chapter books to read. Let them listen to an audiobook or audio drama. Or better yet, read aloud to them. According to Andrew Pudewa of Institute for Excellent in Writing, children will be farther ahead if you read aloud to them for an entire year and do no other lessons than if you do their regular lessons without any reading aloud. That’s how beneficial hearing great books read aloud can be for our kiddos.
When times are tough and you don’t have the energy to prep and present regular homeschool lessons, pick up a good book instead!
4 – Play Games in Your Homeschool
Sometimes, the problem isn’t that we don’t have time. It’s that we can’t gather our thoughts. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unable to think straight when we’re experiencing difficult circumstances. When this happens, it’s a great time to pull out a game. Playing with your child is a wonderful way to help reassure them that even though things are stressful around them, that you still love them and are there for them.
5 – Easy Nature Exploration or Nature Studies
The great outdoors is a diverse place with plenty of plant life, animal life, ecosystems, and many other things for kids to explore. Give your kids a nature journal and have them look at the various flora and fauna in your neighborhood. Have them observe ant hills or the behavior of squirrels. Sometimes these animals seem commonplace to us but there’s so much our kiddos have yet to learn. It’s such a fun and easy way to homeschool in times of crisis! They will enjoy it and those nature journals will be a keepsake for years to come.
6 – Utilize Activity Books in Your Homeschool
Times of crisis can include extra things like long car rides, appointments to keep, phone calls to make, or other children to care for. If there is anything that takes your focus off of one or more of your children, then you might want to consider stocking up on some activity books. Quality activity books will not only give your children something constructive to do, but they’re also fun and can give them educational activities they can work on independently while you’re busy doing something else.
7 – Elementary Kids Love Inventions and Creations!
Planned out, organized crafts are NOT what you want to have your kids attempt during difficult seasons. You don’t have time to spend looking through Pinterest or Google, gathering supplies, or supervising their work. Rather, give your kids a variety of supplies and see what they come up with. My sons used to spend HOURS making things out of cardboard – or from various supplies they had dug out of our kitchen garbage can. And no matter what they ended up with, they had a chance to work on their fine motor skills and to develop their creativity!
8 – Add Extra Play Time During Hard Times
If all else fails, let your kiddos play. Kids learn a lot from playing. It’s their work. They exercise their bodies as they run around and their minds as they figure out what to do next. This is not screen time, which may also need to be utilized. This is old-fashioned playing with toys, running around in the backyard, or having fun with siblings or friends. I love this quote by Diane Ackerman, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” It is absolutely not a waste of time. You might be surprised at all of the complex and interesting games your kids come up with when they’re given time to explore freely.
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The next time you find yourself in a time of crisis or going through one of those difficult seasons of life, remember that its fine to take a break from the regular homeschool lessons. That way you can address whatever situation you are facing. Not only will this break not harm your kids or put them behind, but you may be surprised to find your children rediscover their love for learning when you give them some time to participate in something a little less structured.
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30 Days of the Best Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms Series Contributor:
Michelle has been homeschooling her sons for 17 years and she just graduated her youngest son this spring. She loves to encourage other moms who are in the trenches and share tips and tricks for helping them to appreciate the blessings of motherhood as well as how to have fun along the way. You can find her blogging at Homeschool-Your-Boys.com