HOMESCHOOLING MADE SIMPLE

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Recently, my children’s school was canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Even though my kiddos only go to preschool for about 3 hours a day, I will never take those 3 consecutive hours of free time for granted ever again.

Now that my twins are home all day every day, I’ve taken it upon myself to homeschool them in a fun, creative, and interactive way. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not forever, but I’m giving it my best.

5 REASONS WHY I’M HOMESCHOOLING MY KIDS DURING COVID-19

  1. Due to this Pandemic and subsequent lockdown, I’ve got nothing but time. Most of my work is in person and therefore it’s been canceled.
  2. A child’s brain develops more rapidly from birth to age 5 than any other time in their life. They’re always absorbing everything, so I want to be a positive role model and guide their learning curriculum with love and attention.
  3. Like most kids, if left to their own devices, my children are prone to creating conflict or displaying attention seeking behavior which can cause stress for everyone. Instead, I’d prefer to provide them with fun and engaging activities to harness their energy.
  4. We don’t get much screen time in our house because we found that when we do, the kids get moody and don’t sleep as well at night. Rather than having TV on all the time, or negotiating when to watch it, we have specific times of day when educational TV shows are allowed and we use it as a tool. Watching it sparingly makes it more special.
  5. I find it really fun to be part of the kids’ learning process. It stimulates my creativity to think of exciting ways to teach them something new every day and it’s the best to watch their little light bulbs going off when they grasp new ideas.

5 TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR HOMESCHOOL

  1. RELEASE A NEED FOR PERFECTION

Your homeschool doesn’t have to be perfect or pinterest worthy. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to take all day. I think the most important part of homeschooling during this strange and stressful time is that it feels playful and makes learning fun. Trust that you have a lot to teach your kiddos and you’re creative enough to find fun ways to engage them.

  1. CREATE A ROUTINE

Creating structure and having a routine creates a sense of security. At our home, we have certain windows of time when we eat, when we brush our teeth, when we nap or have quiet time, and when play inside vs outside. 

We also found that what works for us is doing more of the sitting down inside activities in the morning after breakfast and then shifting to outdoor activities before lunch. Things are a little more relaxed after nap and we try to go for an “adventure” in the afternoon.

  1. START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

For the past two plus weeks of homeschooling, I’ve used everything that I already owned like crayons, markers, paper, scissors, puzzles, blocks, storybooks, coloring books, workbooks, kitchen tools and kids toys. Granted, when I heard that school might be canceled for another 2 months, I purchased a few more specific supplies online, but mostly everything I’m using I already had.

  1. CHOOSE A THEME FOR YOUR DAY

When you pick a theme, you can utilize all the resources you have at your disposal to support your theme and be a little more flexible with the “lesson plan.” Later in this article, I share all the categories that are considered for children’s education and you’ll notice that oftentimes many activities can satisfy multiple educational categories. 

For instance, if the theme of our day is color, we can use color in art, language, motor skills and math. When I’m preparing the lesson, I can grab all the books, toys, and tools that support my theme while thinking of fun ways to integrate everything.

  1. DON’T FORCE IT, BE FLEXIBLE

Most kids have relatively short attention spans. Cultivating focus and concentration is an important skill for them to learn at this age. So I try not to force anything on them but rather help them get interested in what I’m teaching.

When my children are concentrating, whether it be building a train track, playing with stickers, or looking at a book, I don’t force them to stop what they’re doing and shift to the homeschool activity I have planned. Oftentimes if I start an activity with one child and we’re having fun, chances are the other kid will WANT to participate.

THE BASIC CATEGORIES OF EDUCATION

Below are the overall categories of learning in childhood education plus examples of how I incorporate each of them into our homeschool lessons. One thing that’s also nice to remember is that even when our COVID-19 Quarantine is over, all of these activities and lessons can still be great supplemental education to what they’re learning at school.

Language: 

  • Recognizing Letters (upper and lower case)
  • Rhyming games and songs
  • Storytelling or Dictating letters to family and friends
  • Practice writing by hand: Names, words or individual letters
  • Spelling out loud words found in favorite books

Math: 

  • Recognizing numbers & counting anything and everything
  • Practice adding and subtracting with items, abacus, or fingers
  • Fractions (if I cut this sandwich in half, how many pieces do I have?)
  • Baking to work with measurements and following a process 
  • Create your own clock to discuss time, seconds, minutes, hours, etc.

Science: 

  • Talk about or draw body parts from limbs and organs to the skeleton and bones
  • Explore plants and animals with gardening, nature walks or scavenger hunts looking for animals like ants, worms, butterflies, etc.
  • Discuss weather, climate, seasons, environments, etc.
  • Get a Butterfly Habitat or build your own Wormery
  • Constantly observe and discuss the world around you

Fine Motor Skills: 

  • Stringing beads, lacing, buttoning and zipping
  • Cutting with child friendly scissors
  • Picking up small objects with tongs
  • Holding a utensils, pencils or crayons
  • Playing with sensory toys like Play-Doh, noodles, rice, beans or water beads using cups, spoons, a ladle, or bowls

Gross Motor Skills: 

  • Hopping on one foot, skipping, or jumping rope
  • Throwing, catching and kicking a ball
  • Walking on a line forward and backward
  • Walking up and down steps
  • Imitate animal movements with Yoga or freestyle

Geography: 

  • Look at maps of the world or your country
  • Sing the 7 Continents song (there are so many versions!)
  • Talk about where certain animals live in the world
  • Try different cultural food, including language or music from the location
  • Watch a documentary or Nature show (We love If I Were An Animal on Netflix)

Music: 

  • Sing a capella or with recording
  • Have a dance party taking turns leading movements 
  • Play instruments: drums, piano or keyboard, guitar or ukulele
  • Make up songs throughout the day
  • Watch videos of live music with different instruments

Art: 

  • Explore primary and secondary colors with sorting, identifying and mixing
  • Play with shapes via puzzles, tracing, toys
  • Explore water colors, washable paints, crayons, stickers, markers, dot dots
  • Face the Foliage: go on a walk to gather flowers, stick, leaves, then sort and create faces (look up #facethefoliage) or create other pieces of art
  • Dry bundles of flowers like roses or leaves like rosemary or sage

Character Development: 

  • Show kindness to neighbors: say hello, write notes, bring supplies
  • Help with household chores: making bed, sweeping, empty dishwasher, put clothes from washer to dryer, clean up toys
  • Care for animals: Take care of pets or the insects you find on nature walks
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Give thanks before meals or at bedtime
  • Create a Positive Affirmation Coloring Book 

STAY CONNECTED

To see some of my homeschooling in action, visit instagram.com/gigiyogini and watch the story highlight on my profile. 

Remember, your homeschooling doesn’t have to look like mine or any other parent’s, but hopefully you get some ideas and inspiration. 

You can also ask your mom friends what they’re doing with their kids during lockdown or do a simple Google search for “Homeschooling Freebies” and you’ll be amazed by how many great resources (including print outs) there are!

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or ideas and I’d love to see your activities too. It’s so important to stay connected and to support each other, especially during times like these. 

I know you’re doing your best. I’m proud of you. Keep up the great work!

Our Little Library

As a multi-racial family, my husband and I work hard to provide our children with diverse images in their literature and media.

Here are some of our favorites:

I Am Enough

Hair Like Mine

Skin Like Mine

I, Too, Am America

Mixed Me

I Like Myself

One Family

I Love My Hair

A is for Activist

Counting on Community

 

These are on my wishlist:

It’s ok to be different

Courageous People Who Changed the World

Last Stop on Market Street

Families Around the World

My Family, Your Family

Mixed Like Me

Black, White, Just Right

Mary Had a Little Glam

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library

Have you seen Elephant?

Thunder Rose

Grace for President

How to Find a Fox

Dear Dragon

Meet Yasmin!

Multiracial Families

Imagination like mine

Dreams like mine

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Look What Brown Can Do

When God Made You

Full, Full, Full of Love

Bedtime Inspirational Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Changed the World

Riley Can Be Anything

Dream Big, Little One

Lola at the Library

 

My Birth Story

As my twins approach a year an a half, I decided to return to BIRTHFIT and their Postpartum program to build strength and community. On day 1, coach Embo gave us the assignment to write our birth story, which I had always wanted to do, but never got done. I had shared the story verbally on the BIRTHFIT podcast, but I hadn’t taken the time to write it. So I was grateful for the assignment and here it is…

 

** TRIGGER WARNING**

My Birth Story

I was very intentional when I was picking my options for a wedding day. I chose weekends that were during a waxing moon (between the new and full moon) and no where close to my menstrual cycle. We eventually landed on August 22, 2015.

It was a beautiful morning wedding outdoors overlooking the ocean with a jazz brunch and dance party that followed. The next day we left for our Hawaiian honeymoon where we spent 10 days resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating.

After arriving home, we were in bliss. We both went back to work and things seemed relatively normal except my period never came. We were pregnant. Like, whoa. I had joked to friends that I wanted to get preggers on my honeymoon but I couldn’t believe that it actually happened.

Just like that.

It was two weeks before we saw the doctor and when we went in for our first ultrasound, she asked: “Do you see that?” as she pointed to two ovals on the screen and held up two fingers, like a peace symbol.

“SHUT UP!” I blurted.

“There’s two,” she said. “You’re having twins.”

I was in shock.

Twins!?

I’m not exactly sure what happened next. I just remember my husband Antonio talking about getting a minivan.

Long story short, the pregnancy had it’s ups and downs.

We were encouraged not to tell anyone because there’s always a chance that you might miscarry one or both of your twins. The concept felt counter intuitive but I only told my mom and my friend Corti.

To everyone else, it felt like we were keeping a very big secret and I hated it.

I started to isolate myself. I didn’t want to see friends because I didn’t want to lie. So I just immersed myself in work which eventually took it’s toll on me.

I was working full time for Yoga Journal Magazine & Events while teaching 6am and 6pm classes at YogaWorks. Plus I was teaching weekend yoga classes at the Viceroy Hotel and juggling a handful of private clients.

I was tired. Eventually sharing the pregnancy was a great relief.

On the day of our 30 week check up, Antonio and I were not getting along and I had an anxiety attack. We went to the doctors office and I could hardly hold myself together.

I was told that everything looked “perfect” but before I left, I mentioned to the doctor that I couldn’t feel the babies kicking as much as I was used to. She suggested that we go across the street to the hospital for fetal monitoring and 20 minutes later I was listening to the heart beats of my children.

Little did I know, I was having contractions every five minutes. I just thought it was gas. Hah. I was immediately admitted into the maternity floor for preterm labor and began a series of tests. Results indicated that I was going into labor.

It was a new moon.

Needless to say, delivering at 30 weeks is not ideal. I was put on bed rest (something I was previously against) and given a cocktail of steroids and medicine to stop the contractions and protect the babies. I was still in the hospital a week later when all my friends gathered for my baby shower, without me.

I was able to go home, on bed rest, for another week before my water broke in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to believe it. But I woke up Antonio and we called the hospital for advice. They told us to come in.

It was 2am and a full moon.

My doctor had just delivered a baby so she checked in on us. After sunrise the contractions started swelling. My doctor was not available and I wasn’t allowed to move. I just laid there and let the painful waves of labor wash over me. The nurses kept calling my doctor but she was telling the nurses to wait. When I started to feel the urge to push, a nurse lifted my bed sheet to check me and could tell that our daughter was crowning. Her head was at my cervix.

From there it was a whirlwind. The nurses were scared and the anesthesiologist was downright frenetic. They began to argue with each other in front of me. The nurse kept repeating that the doctor wanted us to wait and the anesthesiologist kept repeating, loudly, “I overrule. I overrule! We need to take her to the O.R. (operating room) NOW!”

“Excuse me,” I finally said. “Can we all just take a deep breath and calm down?”

The room fell silent for a moment, somebody chuckled, and then the chaos ensued. I was wheeled to the operating room, told to roll over and curl into a fetal position, got a shot in my spine, had my sports bra cut off, and it was go time.

So in a room full of masked strangers, I started to push my daughter out into the world. They let me kiss her forehead for the briefest moment before whisking her away to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

I asked Antonio to please go with her.

The doctors started massaging my stomach trying to get our son, who was breached, to flip. But no luck. Alarms starting screeching and my doctor told me his heart rate was dropping so they had to take him out via c-section.

Next thing I knew I was being cut, feeling a hot searing sensation as if the pain medicine hadn’t quite kicked in, I was jerked a little from side to side, and then he was out. They started to take him until a nurse advocated for me and said, “let her see her son!” They held him up briefly at the doorway before leaving.

In a room full of people, I never felt so alone.

My doctor started sewing me up and began discussing her upcoming family vacation with the doctor next to her, as if I wasn’t even present. I remember thinking that I should say something clever but I passed out and woke up behind a curtain in a recovery room alone.

At some point, I was wheeled into the NICU while still in a hospital bed. I’m not sure where Antonio was. I was placed between the two incubators of my twins and I put one hand into each.

The twins each grabbed one of my index fingers, with their teeny tiny little hands, and the nurse named, Hwa, took a picture.

For me, there is something so sweet and so sad about that memory. I can’t help but cry.

In the end, my birth experience definitely was nothing like I had expected or hoped for, but it’s what happened. And I have to say, my children are the greatest gifts in the world. They are healthy, happy, and absolutely hilarious.

Nearly a year and a half later, I keep re-learning the same lesson:

Life is mostly out of my control but it’s my choice to show up with grace, faith, and a sense of humor.

Open Letter to Twin Moms

To all the twin mamas out there, I see you.

I celebrate you.

I know how hard it is.

I know how annoying it can be listening to moms of single babies complain. I get it; parenting is hard, no matter what. But double diapers!? Double feedings. Double clean up. Carrying two car seats. Balancing two screaming, crying babies who need your attention (at the same time). It’s a lot!

Sometimes, I admit, it feels like too much.

But then, on the other hand, it’s twice the love. Twice the smiles. Twice the snuggles. Twice the joy. And being a twin mom is a great reminder that all moms are STRONGER, BRAVER, and MORE CAPABLE than we ever imagined.