What I Learned from a Year of Homeschooling

From Day 1 of the quarantine in Idaho, we unknowingly began a long journey of homeschooling our two kids, age 5 and 3 at the time, while we both worked from home. It started with, “let’s just keep them home for a few weeks” to “we are doing full blown homeschooling”! We also added a third kid to the family in August, so handling a pregnancy and newborn were also part of the mix!

Now, a year later, I’m reflecting back on all the interesting and sometimes surprising things we learned along the way.

  1. One of the first boundaries we set in quarantine was if the door of our bedroom is closed, that means don’t come in and don’t bother us. This was crucial for not getting woken up early and keeping some sanity. I was shocked it worked, but they would wake up and play in their room until we opened our door!
  2. ABC Mouse was garbage. Kahn Academy was good to us for a while.
  3. We can teach our kids how to read! Katherine went from not knowing any letter sounds to now reading four letter words!
  4. We could actually survive all being in the house together all the time. I honestly did not know if that was possible without everyone losing their minds before quarantine forced us to do it.
  5. Quiet time is key! 1-3pm the kids play “quietly” in their room.
  6. I don’t have to entertain them all the time. This was a hard one for me to learn but eventually, they became more and more independent.
  7. Any transition is hard, but with consistency, you can make anything work.
  8. Phases are just that – phases that will eventually pass. Good or bad. That cute phase where all they wanted to do was play legos all day? It passed. That phase where they would not go to sleep because they started rooming together? It passed. Enjoy the good, don’t focus too much on the bad.
  9. Time is a funny thing. What we thought was a 2 week quarantine turned into a year. But the first 2 weeks felt longer at the time than the whole year now looking back.
  10. Somehow this time turned out to be the best time to have a baby. She got so much more family bonding time than she would have any other time. And I didn’t have extreme FOMO seeing what other people were doing because no one was doing anything. So staying home with a newborn felt normal.
  11. Lack of socialization was the hardest part. We tried some creative ways to get them interacting with other kids, but this was definitely the biggest thing they missed out on.
  12. Lack of socialization for the adults was hard, too. We had to find our own outlets to have adult and self-care time.
  13. If something was continuously a challenge, we made a “game” out of it. For example, they always fought over the pink plate and bowl. So we instituted a rule that one gets to pick on even days and one on odd days, which works great except when there are 31 days in a month…
  14. It’s okay to ask for help. I had an amazing counselor/coach that I worked with through all our adjustments, support from family, and babysitters when we could make it work safely. Don’t let yourself feel alone!

Overall, I’m grateful for this experience. I always wondered if homeschooling was something for us. I don’t think I would have tried except for this unique set of circumstances. Now I know that it’s not the right choice for us long term, but I’m thankful for the lessons and time spent together!