Blog by Beebe Cline

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How Are You Handling Home Schooling Your Kids?

I’m not a schoolteacher. But now I’m supposed to play one at home. While the transition to working from home fortunately has been smooth for me, the transition to home schooling my 6- and 8-year-old kids has been anything but. I’m a part-time single dad and a full-time writer and editor. The idea that I could shoehorn “teacher” into my daily life is at worst impractical and at best an insult to teachers everywhere. Millions of parents around the country are facing similar challenges.
Cherie Lee Interiors
My main concern is that a lot of the messaging I’ve received from my kids’ school district, and from what I’ve heard about from family and friends, assumes the family dynamic goes something like this: There are two healthy parents in the same house; one works full time, the other stays home full time; the household has high-speed internet; and every child has their own computer.

Start turning the dials on any one of those factors and you can see how homeschooling can quickly become low- to no-schooling.

My email folder labeled “homeschool” contains dozens of emails from teachers, parents and administrators. There are Google Docs, Google Classrooms, Zoom video meetings, YouTube sessions, countless website links and more than one online communication tool and app for parents and students. Which is all great if you fit snugly into that aforementioned assumed family dynamic. If not, you’re left feeling like it’s your first day of school on everyone else’s last day.
Laura Fox Interior Design, LLC
As with any profession, being a teacher takes training. And the process of learning the skill of being a good teacher often weeds out the people who aren’t cut out for it. (I’m raising my hand.) Teaching a room full of 25 5-year-olds — some wired, some tired — how to read is a role in our community that should never be taken for granted again. (Please repeat that, class.)

I’m less concerned about my second-grader. He’s adept at reading, writing, spelling and math. I can hand him a book and he’ll devour it. Same with Sudoku or word search or any number of puzzles I dig up for him.

My kindergartner, not so much. She was just at that critical junction in her learning where reading, spelling and writing were starting to click. Several weeks ago I saw her turning the words over in her head, sounding out the consonants and vowels and arriving at the word like a discovered treasure. She began writing in a notebook the words she knows (heartbreakingly sweet words like “love,” “mommy,” “daddy”). And now I’m frantically trying to keep that lightbulb within her from dimming. She needed, and needs, the skillful art of a teacher who knows how to flip that switch and keep the lights on.
It’s still relatively early days, and many of the kinks are starting to get worked out. I know they’ll be OK and yet I want to do everything I can to make sure their little sponge-like brains are absorbing all they can.

We’ve baked a lot (they get some math in there with the measurements), grown crystals from a birthday gift from long ago and watched tons of educational programs together. (We’ve really enjoyed Mystery Science videos.)

I try to read and talk to them as much as possible. And I try to focus on making sure they learn how to learn. The funny thing about kids is that they show you just how much you don’t know. Why is the sun on fire? Why do kangaroos have pouches? How does soap kill germs?

I think one of the best things you can do for kids is to let them know you don’t know everything, and to show them how you can come to know something — open a book, watch a video, conduct an experiment. That creates an exciting moment for everyone to learn something new together. Isn’t that what a classroom is for?

While I’ll never rise to the heroic level of schoolteacher, I can at least instill in them that life will always be a journey of learning from the world around them. At least that’s what I’ve learned.