Like many parents, we made the hard decision to keep our children at home and do homeschool preschool this fall. There are many adjustments we have to make, all with the consideration of me being a disabled parent.
As a writer and advocate by profession (and now preschool teacher? YIKES!) I had the thought to share my experiences in hope I could connect with or even help other parents in similar situations. I put the call out to my social media followers to see if anyone would be interested in reading a bit about our experiences with homeschool preschool while being a disabled parent, and the response was a resounding yes!
This week we started school and today was our first day! But it’s taken a little bit to get here.
First, I spent some time speaking with friends who have already homeschooled their children. Then, thinking of what our kid’s previous 3k and 4k preschool programs offered as well, I started developing a plan of our own. The main thing I gathered was that kids can learn a lot just by playing and through experience. I was also advised to keep activities to 15 minute increments, and always be ready with the next activity in case something goes south and crayons start flying.
A few school supply lists and workbooks later, we are making a corner of our living area into a homeschool center to help keep things organized and separate in our small living space. While we are waiting for those exciting new school supplies to arrive, this week we are working with what we’ve got already in-house, which, thankfully is a lot with two artists living here!
Here’s what a day of Week 1 looks like for us:
An activity that we’ll do every day, and probably as much as we can throughout the year is the ABC Mouse program. We’ve had a great experience with it and our two are motivated to play and learn, so we’re aiming to do that for a few minutes each day. The iPhone app is great for the kids to use on their tablet. I want to emphasize that this isn’t a sponsored post, we just love it that much!
Next, we’ll have a letter or number that we will learn about each day. Today we learned about the letter L. We practiced drawing our L’s with crayons and paper, and then went to our outside classroom provided by Mother Nature and found some leaves. We came back in and glued the leaves into the shape of a letter L on our paper for today’s craft. Then, we went back outside for a walk and looked for all of the things we could find that started with the letter L. Tomorrow, we’ll do the letter F and will make and find flowers and other F words.
Throw in a snack break and ta-da! The kids really focused on their tasks and seemed to enjoy the day. So far so good! I was able to use all of the mobility aids I needed (cane, power chair) and was only steps away from an accessible bathroom for both the kids and myself (it’s the little things, you know?)
Again, once supplies come in we’ll have what we need to learn about the date, day of the week, and the weather every day to help build routine. I also liked a friend’s advice to have a special “morning basket” ready for the kids to play with every day, and to rotate out supplies seasonally if possible to keep things fresh and interesting.
As we get started on this new homeschool journey, I also saw the wise advice to set goals for the week, month, and year ahead. While our overall goals are to learn as much as we can and have a good time, I wanted to share a few things I hope to learn and grow this year personally.
- Patience – Those that know me know I am not the most patient person…I am direct, determined, assertive and like to keep things moving. That doesn’t always mesh well with others, and I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun and relaxed! So building patience as their mother and teacher is something I hope to do well with this year.
- Flexibility – I am already pretty well-versed in maintaining a flexible schedule thanks to my variable chronic illnesses and pain that can fluctuate on a minute-to-minute basis. Thankfully homeschool allows for a lot of wiggle room in scheduling, in case someone doesn’t sleep well or a migraine hits. Knowing the kids might be really into an activity one day, and then might have a hard time focusing the next and being to adapt with them will help me work on my own problem solving skills along with them.
- Develop better habits – This goes for me personally, and beyond homeschool for the family. Before the pandemic, we were going non-stop, all the time, with little time for extra rest and care. Now that everyone is working and learning from home for a bit, we can take the time to make better choices and habits for ourselves. I plan to including cooking and baking lessons, health lessons, and even start teaching them more cultural topics, such as music, languages, geography, and of course, art!
I would love to hear what other parents are doing this fall. Are you sending your children back, going virtual/homeschool, or a mix of both? This is a judgement-free zone of course, but I find the more conversations we can start around this ever-changing situation in our lives, the more we can learn from each other. I’d love to answer your questions as well!
I plant to blog once a week and share some of our experiences on my social media pages. Thanks for reading and sharing this post!
Best of luck everyone for a great 2020-2021 school year!