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The COVID outbreak and subsequent school-closures have sent no small number of ripples (or tidal waves) through the public education system. Thank goodness we are all in it together!

My fleet of inexpensive and formerly ignored desktop computers has turned into a fully functional computer lab for at-home education. Mostly, I monitor my kids for long hours and interface with their 14 different teachers. Oh teachers, how I adore you! Thank you for all you do.

Searching for a life-preserver in my own experience with stay-at-home public schooling, I turned to some of the pros. The Facebook group “Cache Valley Homeschoolers” has some interesting advice for us rookies. I found these tidbits helpful.

Christina McDowell

Teacher at DaVinci Academy

home educator six years

Be gentle with yourself and children as you embark on your new at-home education. I’m not calling it homeschooling because this is not the homeschooling I love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make this the best possible experience.

Here are some really basic ideas that help me: (1) Set time aside every morning and afternoon to go outside and get fresh air. (2) Encourage kids to get up from their computers at least every 45-50 minutes to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes or so, longer when possible. (3) Eat lunch together and really TALK. No phones. (4) Have a daily creative activity — keep it simple — art, gardening, Legos, baking, even board games, etc. (5) Prioritize. Sometimes cuddles on the couch with a good book are WAY more important than math and English. Your child is a person with feelings, fears, and the need to be comforted. (6) It’s OK to designate “quiet hour,” even with teens — think reading, quiet Legos, drawing, etc. Moms get to relax, too! (7) Have the kids help with the chores. (8) Breath and practice mindfulness. (9) When all else fails, put on “Frozen 2” and buy a tub of ice cream.

Enjoy the journey and don’t be too hard on yourself!

Emily DeLisle

Homeschooler for 19 years

I want to assure all my friends who are suddenly schooling at home that whatever is happening is normal and happens to those of us who have been homeschooling forever also.

Did you bake cookies and talk about fractions and realize that dividing fractions is a useful skill since you were missing half your measuring spoons? Totally normal — and delightful.

But the flip side of that is totally normal also. You guys are getting all the bad parts of homeschooling and you’re doing it in a pandemic while jobs are moving home or being lost, stores are selling out of things you want, the financial market is crashing and while an earthquake happened!

None of this is normal but if you are responding to it in ways you aren’t too proud of- well that is normal.

Janet Summit

Homeschooler for 20 years

There are priorities that are essential, and there are other things. If all I can do is provide the essential, it will be good enough.

My priorities: (1) Children need to feel safe. To feel safe in these times is HUGE. If that is all we can give, let’s give our children that. (2) Children need to have time to be them — to explore — to be creative. Creativity can help reduce stress. (3) Let them help with practical things around the house. If they can do things that they know will make a practical difference, and will really help, they will feel a sense of control in their lives. (4) Let them choose what to learn — and use YouTube, or other online resources, to learn it!

I keep thinking of Laura Ingall’s wonderful book: “The Long Winter.” Their winter is harsh, and long — and all they have is themselves. But their family thrives, and love is the result. Let’s use this stressful time to create loving moments for our children.”

Jaqueline Palsson

Homeschooler for three years

“It’s OK if you’re not ready for this. I think everybody is worried they are going to mess up their kids. Don’t worry. They’ll be OK.

Just do it at your pace. Have fun with it instead of stressing out about it.

One of the biggest things is I feel home educating helps me a better mom. It helps me understand my kids better — how they learn- when they are not learning. It helps me be more patient and understand myself better. It’s helped me to focus more on them.”

Celeste Viehweg

Homeschooler over 12 years

“What is important to you? Realize that learning opportunities are all over the place.

Yeah, there are going to be stressful days and some days you’re going to feel like you’re failing, but if you can step back and look at the bigger picture, you can have a calmness and realize that in the long run it’s going to be beneficial for you and your kids.”

Kate Anderson

Stay-at-home public

schooler for five days

The transition to educating at home has not been easy, but it has been rewarding. My kids are taking responsibility for their learning process.

There is more time for family, too — backyard campouts, silly games, reading aloud and a little bit of binge watching “The Mandalorian.”

We are making schooling at home into a chance for our family to build love.

That is a rainbow over the dark clouds of quarantine — the families and friends we are protecting. I hope even those who are self-isolating feel the strength of their contribution to keeping the community safe. We are in this together and we will make it through

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