How To Series

How to thrive at homeschooling

Whilst a lot of the world is on lock down and schools are closed due to the current situation, we're finding ourselves in unknown, unchartered territory with the children at home. We wanted to ask for some tips from a well practiced homeschooler about how to manage in our new circumstances. Introducing Oksana - also known on Instagram as @fresh_delivery - wife and mother of three, living on the East Coast of the USA where she homeschools her son 13, and daughters 9 and 4.
We hope you enjoy her truly inspiring insight and get to try out a few of her lovely ideas!

Hello, my name is Oksana. I am a wife and mama to three lovely children. My roots travel back to Eastern Europe, but I currently reside with my family on the East Coast of the Unites States. Our eldest son just turned 13, yes, I still cannot believe I have a teenager now. Our daughters are 9 and 4. Early on in our marriage my husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home and raise and educate our kids. To be honest, I wasn't into building a carrier in a corporate world anyway, so it wasn't a hard decision to make. I just wanted to stay at home with our babies to nurture them and have them with me for as long as I could. Plus I always wanted to do something creative with my time and maybe even help support our family, so I knew staying at home would allow some flexibility. But back to homeschool.

We have been on this wonderful journey of home education since my son was 5 and it was time for him to start Kindergarten. He was and still is such an easy student with a very bright mind who makes our homeschool a breeze. Along the way, our middle one joined in on our daily school work. As I mentioned earlier, my youngest is 4. Although she spends most of her days playing alongside us, she has been showing a lot of interest in school and asking to let her do some "school work" as well. At this point, my son does most of his work independently and I work with the girls from about 8:30am till 12:30pm. We start our day with a morning devotional and writing/drawing/doodling in our gratitude journals. It helps us cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving and settle in for school work. When the girls are finished with their daily school assignments, my son takes a break from his work and we have a simple lunch. After lunch, my son goes back to work on the rest of his school for the day and the girls have free time. This is just a very brief description of what most of our days look like. Four days out of the week we work and school at home, but one day we spend in our homeschool community taking classes and learning about the new materials we need to master for the following week.

"In these times of uncertainty and change, I believe it is important to cultivate an atmosphere of peace at home and with our children."

Just like many schools around the world, we have had to stop meeting in our community to practice social distancing in hopes to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Even though we are used to being at home and our schedules haven't changed drastically, we still feel the difference. In these times of uncertainty and change, I believe it is important to cultivate an atmosphere of peace at home and with our children. Since we cannot be out-and-about doing our "normal" things, I have tried to come up with some ideas to have fun at home and make good memories with my children. In doing so, I keep reminding myself that things don't have to be complicated or super elaborate. We have a "rule" we go by in our homeschool community and it is to do things the stick-in-the-sand-way, meaning if it can be done with just a simple stick to draw in the sand, do it so. So here's a list of some ideas that can be done with the children at home in the afternoons after the school work is finished for the day.

1. Play Outside

Play outside if you are allowed/able. Spending time outside everyday is an important part of our day. Children have uninstructed play time that helps them use their imagination and be very creative. I am always amazed at the things they come up with to stay busy and happy during uninstructed play.

2. Cook

Let the children cook/prepare food with you in the kitchen. Make something simple like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but take it up a notch. One afternoon I decided to let the kids top their sandwiches with fresh berries instead of traditional jelly, then sprinkle with good-quality granola, and drizzle with raw honey. They gobbled those sandwiches up and said it was the best they ever had. I know cooking with children can be twice as messy, but the sense of accomplishment and happy smiles on their faces are well worth it. Then include them into the clean-up time as well.

2. Make Playdough

Make homemade playdough but instead of using traditional playdough accessories, let them use cookie cutters you have in your kitchen and let them create to their heart's content. This well-known craft is a sure way to get them busy for a lengthy period of time. Even my older one will still sometime join in especially to help his youngest sister, so everyone ends up being busy. Here's my favourite homemade playdough recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup of salt
1 tbps vegetable oil
natural food coloring
10 drops of peppermint or lavender essential oil

In a saucepan, combine all dry ingredients. Add water and vegetable oil. Over medium to low heat, stir mixture until it thickens (approximately 2-3 minutes). Lumps can be worked out by hand. Continue to stir until playdough begins to gather around your spoon. Remove from heat. Knead out any remaining clumps. Separate playdough into 5 individual balls. Add natural food coloring and essential oils. Smell often. The addition of essential oils in therapeutic and can be used as stress relief as well. For fun, try color coordinating your oil to your color of playdough (i.e. lavender for purple playdough, peppermint for green, lemon for yellow, orange for orange, you get the idea. Kids will LOVE this, I promise!)

4. Educational Screen Time

Make screen time educational as well as entertaining. My kids love to watch Art Hub for Kids channel on YouTube hosted by a dad with the help of his children as they lead the audience through simple drawing lessons. My kids always love seeing the artwork they end up with.

5. Stop - Motion Classes

I have recently discovered @trishazemp on Instagram. She is currently offering FREE stop-motion classes for kids. I shared about her class in my insta stories tagging her account and she sent me a code to get her class for free. We will start diving into her classes this rainy weekend ourselves, but I have heard amazing positive feedback from parents whose children have taken the class.

6. Watercolour for Kids 

Another creative outlet for budding artists is an online watercolor class called "Watercolor for Kids" by Simplified Classes by Emily Lex. She is a mom herself and an artist. This class is a gem!

7. Cardboard Fun

Make a cardboard doll house/car garage with your kids and let them lead the play. One of my favourite accounts on Instagram for all things DYI and hands-on inspiration for kids is @mer-mag. Merrilee is an amazing creative who blows my mind with her simple and easy craft ideas that will sure keep little hands and minds busy and happy. She also has lovely printables in her online shop that are simply darling and stylish might I add.

8. Family Journal

Start a Family Journal and at the end of a long and busy day, gather around your kitchen or dining table with your children and make a few notes in your journal about the day, favourite moments, favourite activities, and so on. It will become a sweet keepsake and an heirloom to look back upon.

The list of ideas can go on and on, but I hope these simple ones above will be a good starting point for many mamas with young children and an inspiration to create memorable moments. I hope and pray families around the world take these days at home as a gift and grow closer together.

Kindly, Oksana x

A huge thank you to Oksana for her contribution and wonderful ideas!
To keep following along with Oksana, make sure to check out her Instagram feed @fresh_delivery.


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