Keep Calm and Parent On: Advice for Accidental Homeschoolers

Keep Calm and Parent On: Advice for Accidental Homeschoolers from Caitlyn Baker and Shannon Ruddell of Fearless Readers LLC

Hello, accidental homeschoolers! We are proud to share this timely guest post by Caitlyn Baker and Shannon Ruddell of Fearless Readers, LLC.

Just a few weeks ago, many of us were busy planning and preparing for Spring Break. Vacations, playdates, and local activities filled our calendars. Here we are, three weeks in and we have all found ourselves at home and practicing a new phenomenon of “social distancing.” We never imagined the world we are now living in. We certainly never imagined becoming our children’s educational provider. For those parents of children with learning differences or special needs—you may now bear the burden of implementing the 504 plan or IEP that you spent years coordinating with the school to perfect.

Hope for Accidental Homeschoolers

We didn’t ask to be homeschoolers. We never had the chance to plan, research, exchange ideas, and pick the brains of other homeschool moms. We didn’t spend countless hours scouring reviews of curricula, and many of us might not be tech-savvy. The term “accidental homeschoolers” is trending on social media, and where there once were posts sharing family photos and funny videos, there are now posts from desperate parents trying to figure out how to educate their children.  

Please hear these words: You know more than you think you do. 

Instead of spending the next several months trying to learn everything there is about homeschooling your children, what if we paused and used this valuable one-on-one time with our children to teach them life lessons rather than school lessons? What if we stopped focusing on everything we don’t know, and started focusing on everything we do? You possess a wealth of knowledge that your children need. 

Traditional schooling is important for our children, but in times like these where ‘traditional’ has been thrown out the window, Don’t be too quick to panic. You’ve got this. 

How many times have we heard high school graduates semi-jokingly say, “Well, I don’t know how to do my taxes, how to change a flat tire, or what interest is, but thank goodness I’ve memorized the Pythagorean Theorem.”

If you aren’t equipped to be your child’s educational coach—no worries. You are going to be their life coach for the next several months. Now is your time to shine, mom and dad. Here are a few ideas to get you going. 

The “B” Word: Budgets

Now more than ever many families are being forced to go back to basics and reevaluate their budgets due to the financial difficulties we are now experiencing. Currently, many families are facing financial hardships from cut hours and lost jobs. What a great opportunity to bring your children into this conversation and give them some real-life experience in budgeting and money management. This conversation isn’t meant to scare them—we want our children to feel safe. But we also know one day very soon they are going to need to learn what a budget is, how to create one, how to stick with it, and why it is important.

Depending on your comfort level, you can bring them in from the very beginning and show them all the numbers so you can create the budget together, or you can create the budget on your own and then show them how it works. My family loves using the Every Dollar app from Dave Ramsey—and it’s free! Using a comprehensive budgeting app like this accounts for every area of spending and creates a great visual for yourself and children. After creating it, you can all make intelligent spending decisions together instead of being the bad guy for saying “no” and them not understanding why. 

Real-Life Learning 

How about a little Home Ec? Take some of the household responsibilities off your shoulders and pass them onto your kids. Get them to help with setting up a chore chart. Ask each kid to pick a day of the week where they will be the family chef. Depending on their age, put them in charge of researching and planning the meals and putting together the shopping list. Plot twist—prepare them for the fact that some of their ingredients might not be available. They may need to have substitutions thought out. 

Discover Their Passions

Have a deep conversation with your kids and find out what they are passionate about. Does your child love robots and computers? Encourage him/her to sign up for online coding classes, create stories, games, and animations with Scratch, or watch YouTube tutorials. Do you have a talented writer? Challenge him/her to journal, write a book, or start a blog. 

Embrace Downtime

Maybe you all feel mentally exhausted and just want to binge-watch movies for the next week. That works, too! We could all use a timeout and an opportunity to get away from the world right now. Have a family movie night, game night, or bake together. Retreat to your own rooms and embrace the solitude. Get outdoors and go for a hike. 

By this point, many of you might be thinking, “That’s great, but I work full time. How on earth am I supposed to manage all of this?” In your own time. This doesn’t need to be accomplished between typical school hours. I encourage you to sit down as a family in these next few days and come up with a schedule that works for all of you. Older kids and teens will likely appreciate being included in this planning. Come up with a list of goals and what you’d like to accomplish during this time. Involve your kids in selecting some of the things they would like to learn. Consider scheduling a weekly family meeting to review the week and update one another. 

Who knows what these next few weeks may hold. Let’s not allow fear, worry or stress to get in the way of the valuable time we have been given. This is uncharted territory for the entire world. You are not alone. May each of us come out of this experience stronger and more thankful for all of the little things in life we previously took for granted. 

About the Authors

Caitlyn Baker is a mom, lover of dogs, and an entrepreneur with a passion for education. She founded Fearless Readers, LLC with the mission of redefining dyslexia and helping students to reach their potential. 

Shannon Ruddell is a mom to two little girls and a sucker for outdoor family adventures. She is an owner of Fearless Readers, LLC and loves using social media and technology to empower her parents and students. 

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