Wow! What a year the last two weeks have been! Anyone with us on that? Just wow!
Once upon a time, back on Wednesday, March 11th, we were busy working on our regularly scheduled blog posts and such when the emails started trickling in. First, the schools started limiting outside visitors to the buildings, then, evening activities were canceled. The emails were followed by a flood of phone calls with similar directives. Then, Thursday brought more cancellations, including the announcement that the start of the spring sports session would be delayed; and the students lamented. Finally, it was declared that there would be no school that Friday AND Monday (and the students were joyous once again). But gosh, who remembers thinking, “what on Earth am I going to do with the kids home unexpectedly for four days straight?” If we only knew…
Now, school is closed through April 13th per the governor’s mandate (in Michigan anyway). Once that was established, there were umpteen unknowns. What of schooling, we wondered? Surely we won’t have to “homeschool” . . . I mean, right? Rumors of a school district-initiated online-learning program started to spread and that seemed like a sufficient bail-out plan under the circumstances; certainly a better option than homeschooling!
And don’t get us wrong . . . some of you mamas choose to homeschool. We see you, we applaud you and we are in awe of you! We here at Grace in the Race, however, agree that we are simply not, I repeat, NOT called to homeschool.
So, said rumors of an online-learning plan became our beacon of hope. Surely, we’d have the details in hand in no time! Phew, okay, we’ll get through this! We took Friday off like a “snow day,” buying time until the soon-to-be coveted online learning plans hit inboxes. But despite refreshing our email every five minutes, Friday came and went without a word on instruction for how we were to navigate this home-learning process. And so we went where two moms swore they’d never go. We bit the bullet and dove face-first into homeschooling.
Monday was a mom-declared ‘half-day’ as we started at 10 am and ended by noon. Ok, so it was a ‘quarter-day’. Look, we were still figuring things out . . . that’s grace, right? Ugh. We tried on that first day. Really, we did. We tried to make it fun and find interesting ways to teach/learn. We shared ideas and strategies to be cool teacher-moms while we patiently (anxiously) waited for the promised online-learning plan. We printed out some logic puzzles and put on a trivia game show (it was awful). We did the obvious and had them read for 20 minutes, but all we got was eye-rolling, device-sneaking, and clock-watching.
Look, we are not teachers. We did not go to college to learn how to do this. We do not want to do this. And, we feel confident that we will not be nominated for any homeschool-teacher-of-the-year awards. But after just one day, one thing is clear. Our kids need this. They need some semblance of structure and systematic stimulation of their minds.
With that realization driving our efforts, we worked through the struggle for a few more days until it happened. [Optional] home-learning resources arrived from school! Okay, so now we have content, but there is still no structure and more importantly, no formal means of enforcement . . . And, did they say optional!? Seriously? Don’t they know that’s code for “don’t have to do it”? Can you conjure in your mind’s eye that look your kid has nailed that says without a single word: “you’re not my teacher, you can’t make me do this!”? Ugh, our sweet little darlings are sure to see right through us! So, how are we going to get our kids to do this? Parenting is one thing and we fancy ourselves pretty solid in that department but enforcing OPTIONAL education is outside of our stay-at-home-mom pay grade (and frankly still feels a whole lot like homeschooling!) God bless every teacher, everywhere!
It was time to dig deep. This may be our first pandemic, but it’s not our first rodeo. “Use your gifts, women”, the universe called to us! Structure is your spirit-animal! And so we got to work. We’d been tossing around the idea of a digital solution for our GracePace program for weeks so it seemed fitting to put that plan in action. We buckled down and created a tool specifically for mamas in the trenches: the homeschoolers! Here’s what we came up with:
GRACEPACE: HOME-LEARNING (it’s an app!)
This GracePace solution is a powerful digital task list that will help your child navigate his or her home-learning routine. It is designed to organize, customize and automate a home-learning plan that incorporates the resources that your child already uses. These resources might include curriculum sent from school or via Google Classroom or from other online sources such as Khan Academy, BrainPop or IXL (to name a few). Additionally, our “app” provides you the flexibility to easily add in chores, playtime, breaks, etc. to your child’s daily schedule.
The GracePace: Home-Learning solution is a (.CSV) file containing a home-learning plan with multiple resources already organized in the various subjects within the app. The file easily imports into a project management application that can be accessed via a computer browser or on a smartphone or similar device. Once imported, the file can be customized to accommodate your child’s workload and schedule. We will provide all of the instructions you need and it will all become clear when you see it in the application. So, whether you encourage a robust, full day of learning or just want your child to read and practice a little math on a regular basis, for example, this solution allows for that flexibility and streamlines the entire process.
Older children can manage the digital solution on their own and will benefit from effective time management while younger children will thrive on the consistency of a daily routine customized just for them . . . And moms will no longer have to spend their days reinventing the wheel or feel compelled to TEACH. The tool prompts the student to learn at the pace you designate utilizing the resources you select. This doesn’t mean your kids won’t have questions or need occasional guidance, but it should significantly reduce YOUR chaos!
Ready to try it? To access the GracePace: Home-Learning app, follow this link to our online shop. Simply add the product to your cart and checkout. When you do, we’ll email you instructions to download the (.CSV) file and import it to your computer. Please note that though this is a product for purchase, we have significantly discounted it in light of the state of the world. Additionally, we are offering it for FREE to our subscribers with the use of the coupon code included in our weekly newsletter. If you haven’t yet subscribed to our FREE weekly newsletter, you can do so at the bottom of this page.
The loud and clear message to our kids is that we ARE doing this because it’s good for all of us. However, we cannot forget about grace. Grace will be abundantly necessary to get through this trial. If your children can’t find something to work on in a given subject, encourage them to seek out a magazine or video or just get outside and breathe some fresh air.
Mamas, this is important: we are not trying to advance their education at this point. Let the schools/teachers dictate that! Our goal is to give them the familiarity of routine which they are accustomed to at school and to stimulate their still-developing minds so they can jump right back in when it’s time to go back! Because they WILL go back! And all the mamas said: Amen!
So, where do you stand on all of this? Have you been reinventing the wheel trying to pull a new plan together each day? Maybe you’ve attempted to implement an overwhelming color-coded graphic you found on Facebook? Or hey, raise your hand if you’re plopping your kid in front of an iPad hoping your ever-diligent child will open up Prodigy instead of YouTube while you’re on that conference call for work. Perhaps you’ve given up on home-learning all together. How’s that benefiting your chaos coordination? Are you hearing the “b” word? (bored!)
We’d love to hear your home-learning strategies and struggles and we’d be grateful for your feedback on our new GracePace: Home-Learning solution. Please leave us a note in the comments below. Good luck and thanks for being here!