With the COVID-19 shutting down K-12 schools across the country, many parents and caregivers have suddenly become full-time homeschool teachers. It can be hard to adjust to this new routine and you may feel like you're dropping the ball. To help, we spoke with homeschoolers, both old and newly-appointed, to gather some tips that may help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Set a schedule
Whether structured, or a little more flexible, having a schedule is important. That’s especially true for younger children, according to Education.com:
“Young children do not yet fully understand the concept of time, so they do not order their lives by hours and minutes, but rather by the events that happen. When events happen in the same order every day, children have a better understanding of their world, and therefore feel more secure. A regular schedule gives children a way to order and organize their lives.”
Canton, Michigan mom Tracy Miller says that what works for her is having a schedule that’s more relaxed.
“Make a flexible schedule and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish everything or get off schedule. Ours is really lax," shae said. "We don’t even begin ‘til after lunch.”
Plan your curriculum ahead of time
Thinking about printing out a few worksheets on the fly and setting them down in front of the kids? Not so fast, says Maryland mom, Octayvia Overton:
“Plan ahead. A prep time is needed! You need to actually go through the material before them or else you’ll be looking crazy.”
Don’t know where to start? Many educational websites are offering free content during school closures that you can use in your home curriculum, including Scholastic, Khan Academy, Duolingo, and MathGames.
Make time for outside (while maintaining social distance, of course).
By now, your entire household may be going crazy because of social distancing and isolation. We could all use a little fresh air. Plus, taking time to go outside may also help your child learn more effectively. According to The Atlantic:
The benefits of recess might seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. But a large body of research suggests that it also boosts cognition. Many studies have found that regular exercise improves mental function and academic performance. And an analysis of studies that focused specifically on recess found positive associations between physical activity and the ability to concentrate in class.
Step outside the box
The world is your classroom right now and your class size is small. This is the perfect opportunity to think outside the box. North Carolina mom, Monay Miller told us:
“Don’t try to mimic school. Alternative, creative learning will likely give you a bit of a mental break from the stress that could surround trying to create a ‘lesson plan.’”
Miller suggests activities like baking to teach measurements; having kids research where the fabric comes from in the clothes they’re wearing and writing a mini report; and teaching basic life skills like folding clothes.
Tailor your teaching
Most homeschoolers we heard from stressed the benefit of not being in a classroom of 20 or more students. Teaching a smaller group means being able to customize learning styles.
“My son is hands on, so I like to incorporate different hands on activities to help him stay interested,” says Brittany Chere of Detroit.
Detroit dad Sterling Austin tailors his lessons based on his daughters’ individual learning styles.
“I learned that note taking is my oldest daughter’s weak point. You can give a more detailed session given there’s only one or two kids, not 20.”
Cut yourself some slack
Homeschoolers both old and new stressed the importance of cutting yourself some slack.
“Be patient with yourself. It takes time for even a teacher to get a good routine going,” says nursing instructor Maureen Anderson.