As a working mom, this whole COVID-19 thing has been kind of a nightmare - and I'm one of the lucky ones because I can do most of my job at home. And I'm even more blessed that I have parents who kindly and graciously stepped up and are taking my elementary-age daughter throughout the week so she can focus on proper schooling and I can get my work done. But I still have her on Fridays and I get a taste of this new world of homeschooling. It's OVERWHELMING. Parents at my daughter's school have even formed a group to provide resources, homework help, emotional support and comic relief to other parents during this time.

It got me thinking - how do homeschool parents do this on the daily? A couple of years ago, I interviewed my friend Jenny Johnston who has been homeschooling her girls for several years now: Newburgh Mom Talks Candidly About Homeschooling Her Girls. Now that so many of us are charting unknown territory, I turned to Jenny again to help me and other parents through this.

Johnston Family

Here are five things she and her homeschooling friends want traditional parents to know:

1. Ok so the number one I think 'new to homeschooling' parents should focus on is just loving their kids through this difficult time. The stress for all of us is unprecedented. Especially young children (and teens) who don’t know how to handle big scary situations yet. Cuddle up on the couch. Watch a movie. Decompress and make sure they feel secure.
2. Your kids most likely won't fall tragically behind if they miss the rest of the school year of traditional schooling. READ TO THEM! There are studies done that say that reading aloud is the single most valuable thing an educator can do for a child. Some wonderful suggestion for age appropriate books can be found here.
3. Don’t panic! There is already enough to freak out about right now without adding homeschooling to the mix! It’ll all be okay! Take it from someone who panicked for the first few years of her homeschooling journey. I still have a nervous breakdown every now and then. I get it! It’s a big deal to educate your children but try to relax.
4. Which brings me to my final tip for panicked new homeschooling parents... you can do this! You taught those babies to walk, talk, feed themselves, use the potty, and a million other things too. Give yourself some credit! You’ve got this on lock for as long as you want or need to keep it up!
5. Jenny also gave me some encouraging Instagram accounts to follow so you know you aren't alone:
You can find Jenny at @noplacelikehomeschool on Instagram.
Read more about what a typical school day looks like for the Johnston girls, how Jenny inspires and engages them, what curriculum she uses and more at Newburgh Mom Talks Candidly About Homeschooling Her Girls.
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I found this photo on Jenny's Facebook page. It was taken at Starbucks - obviously, with social distancing, we can't enjoy places like coffee shops and the library but it was a good reminder that we can move our "classrooms" to other places like outside in the lawn, public parks (away from others), on the couch, and even into virtual spaces. Have fun with it! You might never get this type of opportunity again!
Starbucks is our “homeschool away from home” three half days a week while Linley is at tutoring. It’s so cool that we get to enjoy a little alone study time together most days. The Lord knows what we need in all the seasons of our lives. - Jenny Johnston