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Julie Batura: Coronavirus homeschooling – 5 survival tips to get you through

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By now you’ve seen some of the many homeschooling memes making their way around social media in this era of COVID-19 inspired education. One of the most humorous – and realistic –features a mother asking on Day 3 of school, “How do I get this kid transferred out of my class?”

As a longtime homeschool teacher BC (before coronavirus), I’ve said that more times than I would like to admit. In fact, it might happen on a weekly basis, or maybe even more often than that. To be totally transparent, the thought might even occur daily – but please don’t tell my children.

For most of us, the fever, not the one of the coronavirus variety, but the one that hits in the spring, came the second week of quarantine and it hasn’t let up. Some might even say that it happened on the second day.

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During a normal school year, we have extracurricular activities, afternoon breaks, weekends and even vacations to break up the monotony when spring shows its lovely face. It’s hard to see the bright, green grass and budding flowers and not long to be on the outside looking in.

The physical distancing and quarantine have put an end to all of that and taken a toll on everyone.

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How do we continue homeschooling when no one wants to be reciting multiplication tables and writing research papers?

Here are five tips that have helped me over the years when I wanted to prematurely close up shop – or transfer our children to another class. I hope they will help you over the hump.

Get out in the sunshine and shelve the books. If the sun is calling your name, then by all means go.

A couple of days ago, I woke up with a migraine. I felt better mid-day, but the last thing I wanted to do was teach school. So, we all went outside in the backyard. We made chalk drawings, played with the dog, talked, laughed and rolled in the dirt.

The next day, we went back to work with fresh eyes and happy hearts. And I didn’t feel one iota of guilt.

Remember: 90 percent of success is just showing up. On most days, we don’t do anything earth-shattering in our homeschool. The math pages are completed, the spelling words are written, but I don’t feel like they learned much.

Yet, those days are just as important as the days when a light bulb of understanding comes on or when a science experiment goes off without a hitch. Just show up, open the books, and close them when you’re done. That will be all. That will be enough.

In the Batura family homeschooling room, Riley reads while his brothers Will and Alex work off some excess energy.

In the Batura family homeschooling room, Riley reads while his brothers Will and Alex work off some excess energy.

Realize you’re also a referee. I just broke up the fifth fight of the day, and it’s only 10 a.m. We have three boys, and they can be competitive and argumentative. (I’m describing most of us, but this is about the children, right?) I’m constantly breaking up fights or wiping tears.

The skirmishes often happen during the school day, and I get frustrated and lash out. So, I have to stop and apologize, give them a break or send them to their rooms.

After 10 or 15 minutes, I call them back, and we continue where we left off.

Don’t stop when you hit the wall. Keep going. My husband, Paul, has run 80 marathons. He’s a mastermind at the never-quit cliché, but I didn’t come by that trait naturally. He says that the 20th mile is always the hardest and that if you trudge through it, the second wind comes for the last six.

By now, the novelty of school at home has worn off, and it’s tempting to quit. Resist the urge. The finish line will soon be in sight but you have to keep going. If you can’t run, walk, however slowly. You’re going to make it.

By now, the novelty of school at home has worn off, and it’s tempting to quit. Resist the urge. The finish line will soon be in sight but you have to keep going.

Ask for help. Phone a friend. Pray. Our youngest two were diagnosed with dyslexia last year. I had been pulling my hair out trying to teach them to read. They are extremely bright, wildly creative and eager to learn. Dyslexics don’t have a disability, they just learn differently. I found a whole new way to teach by talking to other parents, researching a lot and seeking help from expert teachers.

If you are struggling with homeschooling, do not hesitate to contact their teacher, or talk to other parents, or FaceTime a good friend. I regularly discuss homeschooling with other moms because I garner new ideas from them.

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And I pray. Sometimes out of desperation, but always because I know that I can’t do this alone.

Finally, let’s be clear. All of the school kids in America are behind, and none of them are ahead. We’re all navigating this storm together – and together we’ll get through it.