Melinda Grotz, California, USA
What is your greatest struggle when it comes to crisis schooling?
It sounds funny, but my greatest struggle has been time. Being home, you’d think that we’d have all the time in the world, but the days go by quickly, and we don’t accomplish as much as I thought we would. I appreciated reading in your blog that what doesn’t get done, just rolls to the next day, so I’ve been doing that.
What resources have you been utilizing to help you on your unexpected homeschool journey?
I love art, so our art cupboard is stocked with lots of supplies for creating anything they’re inspired to create. We discovered Art for Kids Hub on YouTube pre-quarantine, and it’s a great drawing resource. Another YouTube favorite is The StoryTime Family. We also really love Mystery Doug, and I’ve just discovered Wisdom Wonder Project.
Our TK & 1st Grade teachers have also given us a lot of resources like Star Fall, Reading Eggs, Zearn, and Scholastic Learn at Home, and YouTube resources like: Teaching Independent Learners, Kid Time Story Time, Heidi Songs and Tate Kids.
Are you working from home while you are crisis schooling? What challenges does this entail?
We own our own business, and we always work from home. Our kids are still young, so my 1st grader is in her first year of full time school, and my TK kid is normally out by 11:20am. With “full time” school so fresh, I’m still used to having them around a lot. I’m lucky in that my work responsibilities are flexible, and on the rare occasion that I have a hard deadline, I can usually keep my kids occupied long enough to get everything done.
How do you find balance and time for self-care in the midst of daily life as an unexpected homeschooling parent?
This is an area that I’m working on…pandemic or not. Before kids, I gave everything to my career. With kids, it’s easy for me to get lost in caring for everyone else. I do really love gardening, and with the kids home we’ve been planting seeds and learning about plant stages. Being outside is self-care for me. I also discovered shower steamers! I don’t always make time for a bath, so the steamers turn a shower into a mini spa!
Right before quarantine, I took a watercolor class at our local botanic garden. The woman that taught the class emailed all of us, and offered Zoom watercolor classes for free on Mondays! I’m so grateful for that! My best friend and I have also been taking time to have long phone conversations, like we used to do 20 years ago. It feels good to be connected during this time.
In a perfect world, what would your ideal homeschool day look like?
Honestly, like real homeschooling; with field trips, friends, and travel. In this fantasy, I’d know other homeschooling families, and we’d share time and resources. I think if I keep going with this “ideal”, we also end up on a compound in Ojai with chickens. Haha!
But in reality, what does your typical day look like?
We do school work in spurts. I’d prefer to get the work done at once, but I think it’s better for them to dip in and out of it, with lots of play in between. Our typical day includes a lot of screens because a lot of their assigned work is on screens. I understand it, they’re young and learning is easier if it’s in a song or a game, etc., but it makes my little one so hyper. I break up the screen time with paper and pencil time for writing and math, but they moan about it.
I am definitely grateful to have teaching videos though, because I’m way out of my league with teaching school curriculum. I’m one of those parents that thinks teachers have magical powers. I’m much better at exploratory learning/teaching, than textbook learning/teaching.
What are your best homeschooling memories thus far?
I love not rushing out of the house in the mornings. We have leisurely mornings, and typically don’t start “school” until 10am. I’ve also enjoyed learning with them. We’ve gone down internet rabbit holes of learning. It starts with one question then that spurs a new question, and we keep reading, and watching. I had no idea the dark side of Mercury was ice cold! Haha!