The threat of Coronavirus has caused many parents to pull their kids out of school, and now, with official school closings, many of you are faced with homeschooling for the first time.
There are very many different ways to homeschool (though the one common thread is that we are rarely at home, ironically), which go from doing school at home to unschooling, with very many different approaches in between. Because we are going through a moment of crisis and most parents don’t have a chance to explore the very many philosophies of homeschooling right now, I will approach this from the very basic, school-at-home format. I generally have thousands of free resources I refer to from time to time. I will be adding suggested homeschooling resources for different grades to this site and I will keep adding more pages of resources throughout the week, so sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of this article) to get notifications of new additions.
You are going to be fine!
No, you don’t need to be a teacher to homeschool your child. Homeschoolers come from all walks of life. There are teachers and educators who homeschool, but the vast majority of parents who make that choice are not trained educators. You have already been teaching your child without realizing it. Think of all you have taught your child before they ever went to school, from the time they were born, and all you teach them every day. We are natural educators and have been teaching our young since the beginning of humankind. So take a deep breath and go back to that place of sharing what you know with someone you love. That is what homeschooling really is about.
You do not need to homeschool from 8am-3pm.
The next thing to know is that you DO NOT have to teach your kid for as many hours a day as they would have been in school. Learning one on one is much faster and requires much more focus from the student. The average for elementary age groups is 1-3 hours a day of all subjects combined.
A lot of the time in school is spent going from place to place, handing out things to an entire class and waiting until everyone is done before moving on to the next activity. Studies have been made on how long students are actually actively participating in class, and the average consensus is that students, on average and under ideal circumstances, are only learning for about 1/4 of the time spent in schools.
Create a schedule that works for both you and your children, and that keeps everyone sane.
In school, students take several mental breaks. They walk from class to class, go to their lockers, whisper to their friends and draw on their books when they need to space out. One on one instruction doesn’t allow for most of those, so give your child and yourself a chance to take a break.
– Do some running, dancing or jumping between topics and have a timer so they are part of the school time and not just a distraction.
– Alternate creative topics, such as art, music or PE, with focus topics, such as math and writing.
– Teach outside some days if you have a yard or stoop where that could happen.
Unlike what we have been made to believe, classrooms are not the only place where learning happens and sitting down in desks isn’t always the most enriching learning environment. Though our experiences are currently limited by Coronavirus, there are many opportunities for learning that don’t involve sitting down doing worksheets.
Kids learn best when learning applies to things in their world.
Here is an example of living-learning for all kinds of age groups, depending on the age of the child:
– If you have a yard, garden with your kids, and record what you have done, the development of the plants and what they have observed.
– Count new leaves and add them up, or multiply them by the number of plants and figure out statistically if they have a similar number of leaves and what percentage of them have a certain attribute.
– Bring a sketchbook and have them draw or paint them with watercolor 0r crayons.
– Read about what you are planting or stories that involve those plants. Ask them to remind you of what they read ( if they are too young to write things down), so you can create a list of things to remember, or ask your older kids to do the list themselves.
– Have them take photographs of them and create a board of their development.
– Ask them to measure a certain amount of water, and to measure (using both a centimeter and inches ruler), how far apart they should be planted.
– Make signs with names of the plants ( and scientific names if the kids are older).
– Find what kinds of chemicals those plants prefer and what kinds of household products could help you create some fertilizer.
– Figure out where these plants grow best, what parts of the country, what type of climate, what areas of the world.
what cultures use those plants.
– Look at them with a magnifying glass, or a magnifying app such as Cozy Magnifier and talk about what you observe.
And there are many more ideas that can happen simply from planting a few seeds. We have done some Math, some writing, some reading skills, science, social studies and art in this simple project.
One trick many homeschoolers use is to use games to help children learn things without their knowledge.
Board games with 2 dice are perfect for learning basic addition, for example.
Here are a few types of games that could be a great addition to any homeschooling:
Zingo – Word building game for those learning to read
Zeus on the Loose – Perfect for addition and subtraction practice up to 100.
Scrabble Jr. – Spelling practice
Cytosis – A cell biology game
Valence Card Game – Have fun with Chemistry
Ticket to Ride – Travel through the USA ( other versions also include different countries and continents)
There are hundreds of other games that hide lovely educational benefits: Educational games.
Read, read and read some more.
The effects of reading and being read to have been proven over and over again. It is one of the easiest ways to bring different worlds, new vocabulary and grammatical sense to your child, to improve their spelling and writing, and introduce them to new worlds.
Libraries are still open, so stock up while you can, and there are many online resources for free or low cost.
Some of them are:
Storyline online – Books read by famous actors
Libby – Thousands of free books and audiobooks for all ages.
Oxford Owl – Free books and resources.
Epic – 35 thousand books of all levels. Not free but it does have a 30 day trial for parents.
Cozy up in bed, read to each other and talk about the story.
Podcasts and audiobooks are your friends
There are thousands of amazing podcasts on all kinds of topics, and they are free! We usually listen to:
Classics for Kids
Wow in the World
and so many more.
Here is a list of some best selling audiobooks available on Amazon:
Enjoy your time together
One question I always get from parents is what is it like to have your kids with you all the time. My answer is that we are a team at this point, and it gets easier. Kids will complain sometimes. Tahra was always homeschooled, and we still have our share of hard days. Understand that this transition is hard for everyone. Your kids have been hearing scary stories and they see us stressed. They are being kept from their friends and their routine is gone. Establish new routines, set times to do the work, make sure the kids get enough exercise ( I will be sharing resources for that soon as well) and be kind to each other. We always complain about not having enough time with each other, so that is your chance to get closer, learn more about each other and make this time a positive memory instead of just a scary one.
I will be posting resources all week, for individual topics and ideas, sample scheduling and much more, so visit the website back soon, pass this to those who you think might need it and stay safe.