We’re all in this Together

Hey, just want to make sure you all heard that there’s this thing called COVID-19 going around. Ha! Living on an island with no TV sheltered us for a while, but we’re now completely quarantined until March 30. Puerto Rico has a curfew from 9pm-5am, and during the day, we are only permitted to go to the grocery store, gas station, or medical facility. Technically we are not supposed to be outside at all, but our kids are presently in our pool, and I hear our neighbor mowing his lawn. We’re still running at night (shh… don’t tell).

So funny thing – we’ve been homeschooling this year as we’re living “abroad” (I never know how to classify Puerto Rico – we’re not technically abroad). We were sent off with a literal, “Good luck,” from our public school system and an expectation that we keep up with the standards of school back home. I’ve struggled with performance and questions of whether what we’re doing is enough. And now with schools shut down, I’m feeling pretty good!

Notice I haven’t really blogged this year. Maybe just a handful of times. That’s because I’m exhausted. I have four kids to educate. And bugs are in my flour. And cockroach poop is always in my pots and pans when I pull them out. So cooking and baking doesn’t call to me as much this year.

When Ryan was working from home one day, after he heard my name being called over and over and witnessed the frustration of kids having to wait their turn for my help, he decided to print photos of me and tape them up at various places throughout the house. He pointed the kids to “ask mom” in the photo. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at his observation and solution!

I resented homeschooling for a good while because I value my independence and being alone and doing things that I want to do. But slowing down this year has been a hidden gift. Our kids have grown so close this year. They fight and bicker, but they’ve also started to learn how to fight and resolve conflict (we all have room for improvement here, myself included – I’m definitely more quick to anger when people hover over me or call, “Mom” hundreds of times a day). The kids have matured much this year. Distance has shown some of them that maybe some friend choices weren’t the best.

Someone had jail on the brain due to our rebellious, quarantine-breaking family run the other day.

That’s my prayer for you and your families. Rest. Enjoy the forced time with your family. Get to know your kids, help them grow in character and learn how to stand up to a bully by teaching them within sibling relationships. Laugh together. Don’t stress about keeping a school schedule. I just have a sheet for the week that has what they need to get done. We start in the morning with a read aloud (we did this and now we’re reading this, and I have loved them both. This would be more appropriate for younger kids). Maybe it takes them 90 minutes to finish school, maybe it takes them eight hours. It’s ok.

We do a lot of read alouds. Sometimes I will read two or three chapters of a book aloud to the kids to get them hooked (specifically our 4th and 6th grade boys), and then they can’t wait to finish the rest on their own. Other times we read aloud as a whole family. Yesterday when I was feeling down and wanting to go home, I declared a postponement on school and read for an extended time to the kids. I often enjoy the read aloud just as much, if not more, than the kids. They’ll doodle or play cards or color while I read.

some freebies to brighten the days

I have compiled some resources that have been really helpful for me this year, as well as some freebies going around to nourish our souls as we all learn to rest.

Freebies for your soul

Homeschool helpers

  • Read Aloud Revival has been such a help to me at finding quality books to read with my kids. We have loved every single one we have selected so far. She has recommendations based on age, topics, holidays, and more. My Father’s Dragon for younger kids was a favorite. We love the Green Ember Series. We’re currently reading The Vanderbeekers of 141st St as a family, and my younger boys are reading The Book of Three series (All should be available on Overdrive – see next point).
  • If you have a local library account, find ebooks through Overdrive or Libby (they’re the same, just different layouts) and Hoopla.
  • If you don’t have a library account or want to find a book your library doesn’t have, search for it on Internet Archive. Or find text for American Lit. You can also do a free trial for Scribd (I haven’t tried it yet).
  • Audible is offering free books for kids. No credit card required.
  • For writing, WriteShop has some free samples and great ideas at the link of their blog. I really like their writing prompt calendars to inspire creative writing, and those are now being offered for free!
  • You can find spelling help here.
  • For math and high school subjects, use Khan Academy. Your kids have probably already watched some of the teaching videos at school. You can print math worksheets (and answer sheets!) from Math Aids and Math Drills – I love their holiday worksheets, especially the coordinate plane art. And they have tons of multiplication facts worksheets. I can almost confidently assure you that your kids need help with their multiplication facts. Don’t even get this former math teacher started on Common Core…
  • Kids can practice math facts while coloring with these worksheets from Coloring Squared.
  • Your kids will love these logic puzzles. Or these.
  • Make crossword puzzles or word searches and more (or even better, have your kids make one for their siblings) here.
  • Have your kids learn to type (totally hands off for you!)
  • For art, check out Art for Kids’ YouTube channel. You may even like it! The Art of Education also has some lessons temporarily free. Or check out the book The Drawing Lesson
  • Utilize YouTube’s Crash Course channel and Crash Course Kids for science
  • For your kids who love Rick Riordan, here’s a unit on Greek Mythology
  • Easy Peasy Homeschool – you could just use this website entirely for everything. You set up your kids’ classes, figure out about where they’re at in the year, and they complete the assignment for each class for the day. Done.
  • Enchanted learning is offering free access and has resources for all subjects (primarily geared toward elementary)
  • Teachers Pay Teachers is a great resource. There are some really creative teachers out there. I’m grateful for a Lord of the Flies packet some gifted English teacher created that my high schooler is using right now.
  • Free e-book Big Picture Bible Crafts by Gail Schoonmaker (for kids ages 3-10)
  • Join the Facebook Group Learn Everywhere – homeschoolers are posting their favorite resources to help parents navigate the unexpected turn to homeschooling

You can do this! Puzzles and games have been our boredom busters. Here are a couple of easy card games our whole family likes (even me, and I don’t love games!) The links are just to the rules, so a search on YouTube may also be helpful.

  • Cambio/Cabo
  • Golf (there are so many different versions)
  • Nerts (multiple person speed solitaire)
  • Rules for Egyption Ratscrew, Spit, Rummy, Spades, Hearts, Euchre and so many other games you forgot about can be found here.
  • Spoons (or Pig if you play without spoons)

And other non-card games we play a lot

  • Bang (~8 and up)
  • Avalon (~9 and up)
  • Sushi Go (8 and up)
  • Spot it (5 and up)
  • Monopoly Deal
  • King of the Jungle (currently sold out on amazon – sad)
  • Uno
  • Old Maid and Go Fish (3+) are surprisingly still favorites
  • And Memory (3+) or even this one made from your photos on Shutterfly is also quite fun (especially when you use photos from when your kids were little!)
  • Puffy stickers for the little ones used to entertain our kids for so long
  • Don’t underestimate play-doh, finger paint, watercolor paint, window markers (huge win at home and in the car!) and chalk. Maybe it’s a good time to paint a chalkboard wall?!

What do you think?