The dust has started to settle (maybe) after your first round of COVID-19 homeschooling in Miami. As of this writing, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has announced that distance learning from home is how this next academic year will be starting out for students. Here we are again, the start of yet another school year is rapidly approaching, and some of you might be thinking that you want to give this homeschooling thing more than just a few months try. Maybe “want” is too strong a word, and you’re feeling pretty weary as a mom right about now, with so many concerns about the future.
I’m one of “those” moms.
Having been born and raised here, I’ve been homeschooling in Miami long before COVID-19 and all things social distancing and quarantining made it a requirement. I’m one of “those” moms – a homeschooling for the past 15+ years kind of mom. What started out as a homeschool “experiment” for our son’s Pre-K and Kindergarten years has turned into an indispensable part of our family life.
There are SO many options to choose from when it comes to educating your kids at home. Whether you are doing MDCPS My School Online, Florida Virtual School, or some other combination of curriculum choices, homeschooling in Miami looks different for each household. Ages, grade levels, and learning styles also come into play.
I’m a bit of an expert, only if you think that “expert” means I know how much there is left for me to learn about this whole homeschooling thing, and how I am still being schooled (pun intended) after more than a decade of doing this thing.
That being said, I have learned a few things along the way.
A back-to-school list, of sorts.
Here’s a list in no particular order of things I hope will provide fresh hope and encouragement your way, and maybe even a smile or two.
School, whether it’s homeschooling in Miami or any other variation, goes beyond just academics.
Yes, academics are important, and we should approach them with excellence. But there’s so much more to “school” than Math and English. Those lessons can and should be continuing with homeschooling. Lessons in getting along with siblings and working through conflict, lessons in teamwork and goal-setting as we work to get things done around the house, and learning about perseverance as we push through to do hard things (like Math!) are important too. Let’s also not forget those lessons about sharing their chocolate-covered anything snack with Mama.
School “disruptions” sometimes hide opportunities for learning.
Over the years, our backyard has served as an incredible
distraction add-on to our curriculum. The animal sightings alone (possum, hawks, and iguanas – oh my!) have been a welcome break to our school days that even Mama gets to enjoy. A house full of teens these days, and everything still comes to a halt when we see any wildlife that catches our eye.
School subjects on the road, or as I like to call it – “van” schooling.
We have to take care of those errands and appointments, and right smack in the middle of your school day is usually when it fits the schedule best. Why not go through an audiobook together during those hundreds of rides to and from everywhere? Have some flashcards that are special for use just in the car as a treat. My personal favorite, especially on those really long car rides: The Alphabet Game. Searching for signs and billboards with words that start with a particular letter as we work our way through the alphabet. Yep, a house full of teens still gets a kick out of this one too.
Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Yes, school is important. But don’t forget to laugh and have fun with it too.
Sure, homeschooling in Miami can look like school desks replicating traditional schooling at home.
It can also look like storytime on the couch, or working at the dining room table together. So go ahead, work on Math in the backyard while having a picnic. Set up “school” under the Spiderman tent so they have to work using their flashlights. Remember: learning isn’t limited to happening only when things look a certain way.
Remember to celebrate important national holidays like May the Fourth, Harry Potter Day, and Hobbit Day.
(Careful Becky, your nerd is showing.)
While social distancing is still an important consideration, there are still things we can do to make homeschooling less isolating.
Get together with friends. Go on a field trip together, or do an art/science project together. Socialization is a huge part of homeschooling too. Socialization is not just about interacting with kids their age, though. It’s also about practicing social skills and interacting with all ages, not just those in your specific age group. Saying “hi” to the cashier and holding the door open for someone are socialization skills too.
You don’t have to be the expert in ALL the subjects.
Learning is for a lifetime. Teachers (that’s us, mamas!) can and should model what it looks like to need to look something up/find something out.
We’re in this together, mamas.
So whether that dust ever fully settles or not, we can be certain of a few things. We’re learning right along with our students, and we’re learning right along with each other. The hazy unknown becomes just a little clearer, and maybe even just a little less scary. We’re in this together, mamas. The most significant discoveries are often found in the most unexpected of places.
There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Any other questions or concerns about homeschooling in Miami, or just homeschooling in general? I’d LOVE to hear from you! Please leave your questions in the comments.