2020’s Extended Back to School Season

As I write this, I am celebrating the launch of 2 of 3 out of our nest, temporarily, because the colleges are closing down from Thanksgiving through the New Year. I am just grateful that they at least get a couple of months on campus this year… with social distancing, masks, and lots of hand cleaning.

For our one who is still home doing virtual school, we are being innovative to find ways to safely get her out of the house this semester… before it gets cold. I have considered just taking a long road trip and making sure we have a back-up battery and plenty of charging cords with us so she can get her schoolwork done from the road. I have also thought about getting her involved in horseback riding or tennis, which are easy to do with social distancing. I have no idea which, if any, of these options will actually stick, but I know I cannot make her just stay in the house all of the time, so, we’ll get it figured out.

2020 has caused a lot of anxiety for all of us. We have to face the challenges of uncertainty and of unexpected changes, and it is quite an adjustment for us.

How about you and yours? Where are your young scholars learning this year… at home, on campus, on the road, or something else? What extracurriculars are you doing safely?

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Previous articles provided resource suggestions to help parents in this super tough year. Make sure you check out the parent resources articles and let me know which one of them has been helpful.

Anxiety can be dangerous for you and for your kids, especially being together more due to COVID-19.

Also, I want to encourage you to learn to identify and deal with anxiety, for yourself and for your children. I wrote articles previously about how it can cause a lot of problems if it’s not dealt with in a healthy way as quickly as possible. Especially due to the altered nature of the 2020 school year due to COVID, dealing with anxiety now is critical.

I recently had a conversation with a wise Mom & Grandmom. She stated that having regular family meetings is important. And she said it’s even more important to give everyone an opportunity to share their feelings, without judgement and with empathetic responses. This is something we were already doing regularly, to discuss chores mostly, but now we also incorporate the feelings sharing. It has been very helpful.

I pray that you and yours are adjusting well and staying safe as you live through this pandemic era.

ARCHIVE FROM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS – Family Pose Before Nature Walk / Hike @ Sweetwater Creek #ButterflyHomeschool Field Trip

[UPDATED] Parents What Do You Need Right Now?

As we enter our 2020 Back to School season, parents, what do you need right now? Watch this video and reply by leaving a comment if you have a specific need that you want help with, and/or if you have a resource suggestion to help others.

UPDATE – The resource list is growing. The first one has now been posted here on the blog.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/DeBHLBjZTbI

[IDEA LIST] UPDATED Ways to Celebrate Teens’ Achievements In Midst of Pandemic


For parents/grandparents/guardians all over the world, we have all been sorely disappointed with the ending of our young scholars’ 2020 senior years. All of the traditional milestones we experienced ourselves, and hoped for them to experience this year, have been cancelled and postponed. Some have been replaced with virtual celebrations, which, though they’re a nice concession, they’re just a concession. What’s been missed and/or lost can never fully be replaced, and you have a right to grieve that loss. BUT…


For the sake of our family members, we must keep a brave face and move forward. We must choose to find the silver lining and the full half of the glass. Choosing to focus on the positive and remember what we’re grateful for (i.e., health and togetherness as a family) will pay great dividends in the end. It will help us all get through this era in world history with our health and minds in tact, and to come out wiser and happier at the end.


So, if you feel like you’re just not creative enough to figure out how to celebrate your teen/s, here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • Order a special meal from their favorite restaurant and go pick it up (or have it delivered) – we did this to celebrate Justine and Samuel’s college scholarships
  • Get their favorite treat as a surprise in your next grocery order/shopping and then everyone at home hug them and congratulate them – we did this for Charity’s all A honor roll achievement
  • Play cards or board games with them… get them off of their devices; remind them, especially if college-bound, that there won’t be a lot more time to spend together like this
  • Feature them on your social media and let family and friends shout them out and congratulate them – one of my teens’ classmates and her mom created a whole movement to gather sponsors/mentors into a facebook group for all of the graduates at our school… and they are adopting the teens and sending them gifts, but also becoming resources for them as they move forward into college and careers.
  • Use snail mail to send out an old fashioned announcement about their graduation or other achievements
  • Plan a get together as soon as pandemic is over and ask guests to save the date
  • Ask family and friends to drive by and honk and wave instead of coming inside, just as featured on many good news reports
  • Create a wish list on Amazon or their favorite store so guests can send the gifts that your kids have chosen
  • Do you have a creative way to celebrate your kids? Please leave a comment and share. (No ads nor promotions allowed.)

If you’d like to see what I’ve been sharing with family and friends about our teens, connect with me on Instagram (donnamarie234grad).


Oh, and for those of you who are wondering how we’ve been doing since the children transitioned into their teen years:

Our oldest, Justine, is an adult and headed to a private women’s college to study elementary education. She has consistently stayed on the honor roll throughout her academic career, and has won a full scholarship to college for all four years. She has also been a competitor and winning finalist in writing and speaking competitions where she one cash and scholarships. She has also dedicated herself to volunteering and to giving her all as a leader amongst her peers at work. She has participated in leadership organizations in the community and at school, and is well prepared to continue standing out as a strong leader as she moves forward academically and in her future teaching career.

Our middle, Samuel, is 18 months younger than his sister, and is also graduating because he skipped 6th grade in middle school. He is a Georgia Merit Scholar in the top 5% of all high school students in the state of Georgia due to both his grades and his high SAT/ACT scores. His academic giftedness, high achievements and dedication to service at school and within the community made him highly competitive for many of the top private and public colleges and universities. Several of those top schools offered him gift aid for four full years averaging at least $120k per school. He chose one of the most prestigious to attend for studying the humanities as an undergraduate scholar, for continuing as a medal-winning debater, and for preparing well for a future career focused on civic justice law.

And our youngest, Charity, who had a rough start as a kindergartner due to reading challenges, is now in middle school on the all A honor roll. She is not only fluent in the language arts, but is also now tutoring other students to help them with their reading and writing. She also joined the orchestra as a percussionist and had two performances before the pandemic shutdown started. This is her first year leaving homeschool for public school, and now she is back at home due to the pandemic. Despite being home, she is still in the top of her class and receiving rave reviews from her teacher. She is very self-motivated and has been going above and beyond to get her studies done from home. We are so proud of her growth, because there was a time where she genuinely did not like school and did not have much motivation to achieve better grades.


“So, as you can see students of all types can be successful in their academic careers when they are homeschooled, and don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.” ~ Donna Marie Johnson, @DonnaMarie234grad

If this is what your family chooses to do (and even if you’re just forced into it via the pandemic), stay connected with older homeschool families so you can see how their kids are doing and listen to their advice. That’s what has gotten us through all of these years, staying connected with other families in the community who choose to homeschool.


And now, as we transition to parenting young adults, we’ve also started receiving support from a friend, Vanessa Hogan-Filmore, who has children slightly older than ours. Check out her Instagram page, upcoming events, and a new recommended resource “Mothering & Daughtering” by Eliza Reynolds, which she will be using during one of her events. She is a wise and empathetic mentor to moms who are transitioning to a new stage of parenting.