Parents, how are you doing at home with your new “homeschool classroom”?
I’m with you. I’ve been waking up every day for the past two and half weeks feeling like I am in the movie Groundhog Day.
Despite having been a middle school teacher for nearly 20 years, I feel like nothing has prepared me for the task of working from home and managing the academic lives of three children — two of them adolescent boys. Like many of you, I am the homeroom teacher, food service, custodian, counselor, art teacher, PE teacher, and behavior specialist.
And I am struggling.
For two weeks, nothing has felt normal. My home has felt chaotic, and I have been stressed.
I finally had some time to reflect this week upon our home school system. I thought about what is working (snack break) and what is not (sustained work without whining). Then I thought about what I would do if I was a teacher in the classroom again. And finally, I realized that what my home school needed was a sense of community and some routines.
Enter the Home Morning Meeting
Today was our first day, and I designated myself as the leader of today’s morning meeting. I told my family to arrive fully dressed, at the kitchen table, for 8:30 am. I served everyone a bagel, and announced the purpose and structure of our new morning meeting. We would gather together every morning to connect, have a bit of fun, and set the stage for the day.
Now, I live with real humans. This is not some Pollyanna life that I lead.
My husband stared straight ahead like he was enduring a dentist visit. The 16-year-old may have muttered, “This is insane”… My nine year old daughter suggested we put hands on our heads when we were ready to share. Each of us came to this meeting with varying degrees of acceptance and enthusiasm. I fully expected this outcome, and we did it anyway.
It’s important for our kids to have routine and structure. Adults need it too. We are realizing very quickly during these times that face-to-face connection is critical to our human needs. If you can handle it, please consider trying a morning meeting at your home. It takes about 15-20 minutes, and this has been my happiest morning yet.
Here’s my structure for a Home Morning Meeting:
Start the meeting by greeting each other. You decide how that works, but the basic requirements are to greet a person by name and with eye contact. This morning, we greeted the person to our right with a “Good Morning, Dad” and a fist bump. (There will be snickering)
2. Daily News
The leader of Morning Meeting gives an update and news brief about the day. I said, “Today is Thursday, April 2. It’s a school day with academic learning from 9-12, lunch at 12. Lunch is hot dogs. If you don’t like hot dogs, you can make yourself a PB & J sandwich. From 12:30 – 2, it’s free choice time for extracurriculars. You can do art, music, PE, foreign language, or other projects. Devices stay off until 2 pm”
Keep it short and direct. If you think it’s helpful, you can use a visual.
Next, the leader opens up a prompt for people to think about and share.
Ours was, “What’s a place in the world that you would like to visit someday?”
The real world responses:
- Harry Potter Wizarding World in Orlando
- Costa Rica
- Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Bet you can’t guess which one is the ironic 16 year old response.
4. Game or Activity
Then, I closed the meeting and wished everyone a good day. Yes, it felt a little hokey and forced, but it also felt good.
We said good morning to each other. We knew what day it was. And we laughed together.
Plus I learned that my husband wanted to visit Amsterdam. So it was a positive start to the day.
Please share with me if you do your own Home Morning Meeting. What ideas do you have? What’s working? The struggle is real, and I’m with you.