Homeschooling during the Pandemic

I’ve homeschooled now for 14 years, and I thought I’d homeschooled through just about every kind of crisis you could have. I’ve homeschooled while moving, while pregnant and having a baby, through a divorce, with a special needs child, with toddlers and even while burning out. But homeschooling during a pandemic is a very different kind of crisis!

Surviving Initial Shutdown

When everything shut down in March 2020, it felt a little strange. We no longer had our evening programs and our days slowed down. It was actually a really good thing for us, and made me realize just how busy we had been.

With the lack of distraction, homeschooling became smoother. With no place to go, and no one to visit, we all seemed to be able to focus better on what needed to be done at home.

In April, 2020, I purchased tablets for my four middle children. That allowed them to connect virtually with friends via Messenger Kids, and to be able to each enjoy a selection of learning games. Once I had the appropriate parental controls (and time limits) on them, they also became a fantastic way to decompress every afternoon.

We developed new routines

We fell into a routine that was much more predictable and stable over the course of the lockdown days. Chores and meals together, then into our separate work areas for school — then after lunch, I worked on my business and my older girls had their screen time. After that, they played outside or in our playroom, and we rotated dinner prep between my older girls and I.

I purchased playground equipment for our yard. We got a swing set, seesaw and tree-climbing supports. I also got a playhouse and small wading pool for the younger girls. Our backyard became our playpark, and now we really didn’t have to go anywhere.

We had some added challenges

It helped, I think, that our street has been under construction since April. It’s hard to be tempted to go anywhere when you literally cannot get out of your driveway, because of the giant hole in the road!

I’d already embraced online grocery shopping, so the transition to buying almost everything online was easy for me. At the click of a button, I could have my groceries, morning coffee and dinner that night ordered and delivered to my door. If anything, it became too easy!

How we changed

My oldest girl has really felt the change the most, I think. She came home from high school after the public schools closed, and while distance learning wasn’t an issue, being home all the time with all her little sisters — without being able to see friends — was hard. It’s still hard. She struggles the most with feeling isolated and alone and disconnected. She’s taken to reading a lot more, and thankfully, Kindle ebooks are available at our local library.

My middle girls are thriving. They miss their friends, but they stay connected virtually. Some of their activities went virtual, so we still had music lessons and choir. And by adding in some of the fun outdoor stuff we did, my kids were well entertained!

For me, my business has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve had more time to dedicated to working, as now I’m not playing taxi all the time. Watching my business grow, watching my bank balance grow and my client list grow is an exhilarating experience.

Fear of getting sick?

The idea of getting sick has been a bit distant for us. And yet, I’m so very aware of the risks. My children’s father is an essential worker, and travels a lot for his job. That puts my kids at a higher risk for contagion. We’ve been vigilant about handwashing, especially when they come home from a “daddy weekend”, getting proper masks and just staying away from people, even as our community opened up again.

It’s that last bit that’s been more of a challenge lately. We’ve had invitations and opportunities to connect with friends, but I’ve been hesitant to open up our “bubble”. It’s always a balancing act between what we really want and what’s best for the family, right?

What I’ve learned

So over the course of the last six months of pandemic life, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. It’s really easy to get busy!

I did not realize how draining our busy life with activities, field trips, extracurriculars, school and chores was for our entire family. I think for the first month or two, after we realized we were going to be home for a good long while, we all started sleeping more. And sleeping better.

When society adjusts, and our activities and social life are more available, I’m going to think long and hard about what brings us value and what would be fun but won’t necessarily be worth the time.

2. Online shopping is so convenient, I wish I’d been doing it all along!

Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, Instacart, delivery services, Amazon.. I LOVE DELIVERY!

Sure grocery shopping is a couple hours out of the house, but I could use that time in so many more productive ways. For the small fee of delivery, the convenience of having it delivered is fantastic. I’m more than willing to pay someone else $5, $10, $20 to bring it to my house.

I save so much time and, let’s be honest, money (no more impulse buying!) by online shopping. This is one habit I’m happy to keep long after the pandemic is over.

3. I need a better balance of work, school and social life.

The growth of my business, and the amount of learning my kids completed in the first three months of pandemic life was surprising. Almost shocking.

It clearly showed me that we were unbalanced in how much we were out, versus how much we stayed home. And that means.. we need to stay home more to homeschool.

It’s always going to be a challenge, but as a family, we work better when we’re home more, than when we’re out a lot. So there are a few things I appreciate that are virtual, and I’m hoping will continue to be virtual ongoing.

Pandemic life showed us a lot.

Homeschooling during a pandemic has been an interesting experience. It’s highlighted the corrections we’ve needed as a family, and showed where we excel too. I think we’ve come through, so far, easily though. Homeschooling really is the best life for us!

How does a long-term homeschooler survive a pandemic? Here's my musings on how we did, and what we learned during Covid-19 lockdown.

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