Former homeschool teacher offers tips for those educating at home

Eleanor Deckert homeschooled her children in the late 1980s and 90s and suggests splitting up the learning into one-third academic, one-third family business and one-third community service. Pictured, her kids David, Miriam, and Johnathen practise the academic portion by reading literature in 1987. Photo by Kevin Deckert
David Deckert works on his daily one-third of family business by writing a thank you note to his grandfather for a birthday bicycle in July 1990. Photo by Eleanor Deckert
David Deckert does his one-third of community service by holding a Mother’s Day backyard circus in July 1990. Photo by Kevin Deckert

While children are home from school, some parents are having to put on their teacher’s hats, and this may lead to an extra element of stress for those having to educate their kids.

Eleanor Deckert, a former home school teacher who taught all four of her children, has some tips for those who are new to the teaching role.

Deckert found her groove as a home school teacher after reading the book Home School Burnout by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, which focuses on a formula of one-third of academic work, one-third family business and one-third community service each day.

“It’s kind of exhausting on the (parent) when you try to figure out how to do school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s too long of a day. It’s torture,” said Deckert, who taught her children, all of whom varied in age, for a total of 15 years beginning in the late 1980s.

“So my husband brought home this book called Homeschooling Burnout … and the whole book was just emphasizing one-third academic — what you think of as school work — doing pages in workbooks, doing a number of math problems, and writing assignments.

“Then one-third family business, so that for young children could be just regular chores like learning to help in the kitchen, handle the broom and dustpan, feeding your pets, and making your bed.

“Then one-third community service. In our family, we did lots of community things like Christmas concerts and Easter egg hunts, but also things that showed concern for our elderly neighbors and our neighbors who had babies and might need a hand, or even donating to the thrift store.”

Deckert admitted in these days of physical distancing the community service portion has to be a little different, but pointed to initiatives like putting hearts in windows and writing thank you notes to health staff and grocery store workers as a viable alternative.

The academic portion only took her family about two or three hours a day, she said, before she had to be creative with thinking up family business-oriented tasks, which could include everything from writing the grocery list to calculating how much wallpaper was needed for a room or the required square footage for a new rug.

Other important community service activities during the COVID-19 pandemic could include contacting seniors or people who live alone and are feeling the isolation really hard, or taking the children along on grocery runs for neighbours who have mobility issues.

“The situation we’re in right now, to be potentially finishing off the school year with our kids, it’s a lot of pressure on parents to do it right, and it’s hard because the pressure to make it happen is very stressful on top of all the other stresses and you need the discipline to make yourself achieve that every day,” Deckert said.

“This method lifts off some of that pressure and makes it be a sustainable lifestyle.”

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