So you’re homeschooling now thanks to Covid-19; don’t panic!
In the last week I’m sure teacher appreciation has reached astronomical heights, as now nearly every child in the United States is being home schooled. Sadly, schools and teachers had virtually no time to time to prepare for this; and neither did parents. Given the current situation in the world, my one biggest piece of advice for parents now in the throes of home education; do not panic, it’s not as hard as it seems. Nobody expects you to advance your child beyond where they left off when schools closed – and you would be mad to do this to yourself and your child! When schools reopen, whether it’s next month or next school year, your child will be back at the same level and there would have been a lot of undue stress in your home for nothing. I know, because I’ve been there. Home schooled children are required (in most states) to undergo an assessment at the culmination of their academic year. Since my daughter was schooled in the state of Florida, then reentering public school in Maryland, she had to do this assessment twice. Her results were phenomenal. In both states, assessors gave her glowing remarks and in every subject she was ahead of what each state required. Where is she now? On track with everyone else. So while you may feel compelled to push your child, please consider this and make sure your child isn’t being pushed to the point where they’re dreading any sort of learning and your home is a chaotic ball of stress. At the end of the day, learning should be fun, and given the current situation nobody expects your child to come back ahead of everyone else. Finally, Take this time to – above all – foster familial bonding, which is critically lacking in today’s society. In a loving, supportive home, a child is able to flourish and succeed in school far better.
From a successful, former homeschooling mom, here are two big, important tips to survive and thrive in the next few weeks of mandatory homeschooling.
Learning is in everything.
That is what every veteran home school mom told me in the year I spent debating if this was right for us. Yes, plan your curriculum. Yes, have worksheets, memorization and quizzes. But don’t underestimate the value of everyday activities such as: having your child help you with chores around the house (subject: home economics, health), measuring out ingredients as you cook (subjects: home-ec, math, science), doing puzzles (subjects: problem solving), or helping you in your garden (subjects: home-ec, biology/science), coloring and painting (subject: art), or simply reading aloud (subjects: language, literature). Even random conversations with your child can uncover knowledge about things that you would have never thought to cover in planning your curriculum. Furthermore, follow your child’s interest. If they seem particularly curious about butterflies one day, head to an educational resource like Khan Academy, Britannica School, or Discovery Education and learn about butterflies. Boom, science lesson for the day: done! Kids are so much more receptive to learning when it’s about something that interests them.
If you need some examples for subjects or how to structure your day and how long you should spend on each subject, here is a mock schedule for an elementary child that looks a bit like ours used to. One great thing about homeschooling is that since your child is getting one-on-one guidance, it takes half the time of normal school. In my example here, structured learning only takes up about 3 hours. If you want to go a little deeper into subjects then that’s fine too but keep it short and simple, as most kids’ attention spans are short and any instructional time that surpasses this won’t stick. *If your school provided you child with all of their work, this is going to be much easier for you but if not, there are educational resources listed below with tons of worksheets available with just a Google search, or if you’re creative you can definitely make your own.
- Math: Short lesson and printable worksheet & flash cards (30 mins.).
- Literature: Printable short story with comprehension questions worksheet (30 mins.).
- Spelling: Work on words they struggle with, or printable grade level worksheet.
- Science: Nature walk & identify plants (30 mins.).
- Reading: Take turns reading paragraphs in chapter book (30 mins.).
- Handwriting: Tracing letters or cursive practice (15 mins.).
- Physical education: Cosmic Kids yoga or Fitness Blender or outdoor play.
Bond with your family and create a peaceful home.
Yes, even this is an opportunity for learning! Social skills and how to responsibly and mindfully manage emotions are skills that are learned both from correction and observation. Moms and dads, how do you react after cabin fever beings to set in? Are you irritable and snap at anyone who approaches you, or are you calm, confident and unafraid despite how the government and mainstream media want you to feel? It’s well known science that children imitate the behavior they witness around them. So remain calm; make coronavirus talk brief, informative and unemotional; carefully watch the tone of your voice and if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, tag the other parent and let them know you need a few minutes alone. If you’re managing solo, call up the TV babysitter, fix up a quick healthy snack, get out some toys and take care of yourself for a few minutes. Your kids are in a weird place just as you are – we’re all confused and struggling together, so show compassion and teach your children how to have healthy emotional responses to situations that are out of their control. (We adults also need to practice this as well!) Similarly, be careful of what you are letting into your home in the form of media. For example, if you have the news playing on the TV or radio all day long, chances are really good that your home environment is neither peaceful, loving, nor pleasant.
Most importantly, do you take time to laugh and be silly with your kids? Are you playing games with your kids and spouse? Do you take time to put away the phone and watch your kids play, or listen to them talk? Start. We have been given a unique, once in a lifetime (hopefully!) opportunity to turn our focus fully toward our children and nuclear family. Our society today is badly lacking stable, secure and loving homes and it shows in many ways – use this time to foster a home environment where your children feel safe, loved, encouraged and one wherein they want to be.
You’ve got this!
Parents, the days are passing by slowly but this will soon pass – do not waste this opportunity! Some days are overwhelming and I get that, but if all you manage to get done on your to-do list is read a couple of books to and with your kids, you’ve had a successful day. Lastly, use this time to explore your child’s educational interests a little bit more, teach them a thing or two around the house, sit and read books together, and take time to simply be together.