With school moving online for the time being, parents are stepping up to act as educators as well as caregivers. It is not easy, in fact, it is a unique and daunting task that everyone is learning how to navigate.
Sarah Noerenberg was the former Instructional Coach at Capitol West Academy, she says, “patience, grace and resilience are key to pivot into a new normal that isn’t so ‘normal’.” We’re essentially building the airplane while it’s flying, without plans.
Even though this time may be intimidating, we have 10 suggestions on how you can successfully bring the school into your home for the time being. If you’d like to watch the full training, the previously-recorded session is available on youtube.
- Regulation [Before Education]
Before a child can learn, their brains must be happy and prepared to take in knowledge. Movement is key. Kids are not meant to sit all day with their eyes glued to a screen, so get them up and active. Go outside for a game of hopscotch, to ride bikes or play in the yard.
Inside, you can pull out puzzles or crayons, bump the music or turn everything off for meditation and mindful breathing. “When your heart and brain are happy, then you’re ready to learn,” says Sarah. (YourTherapySource.com has more suggestions you can try out too)
- Set Up a Daily Schedule
Set a standard bedtime and wake up time, even if both are a little later than when classes were still in-school.
- Build in Breaks
Whether your kids want to play video games, shoot some hoops, or do something else they enjoy – use it as an incentive to do their work. Set a timer for the work period and promise an incentive when the kids finish.
- Offer Flexibility and Choice
By providing your kids flexibility and choice, you are giving them back some control in their lives. Look at the tasks that are assigned for the day with your kids and allow them to plan out their work plan; this includes letting them build in their breaks and when they want to have lunch.
- Partner with Teacher(s)
Teachers are working harder than they ever have before to help their students to continue to learn. Teachers are missing their students and their interaction with their students. Partner with your teachers, especially if something is not working for your kid(s); most teachers will want to know if something isn’t working so they can help problem-solve with you.
When available to you, try to participate in face to face opportunities, such as lessons over Zoom or connecting with classmates.
- Be Patient and Stay Positive
Remember, you are a parent first and not a teacher. It is okay to have bad days, take breaks and try out different techniques to figure out what works best for you and your family. Every day is a new day to start over and try again (and to maybe even do better).
Akua Bonlender is a friend of SaintA and has been homeschooling her 3 kids — aged 9, 12 and 17 — for 14 years! She agreed with many of the suggestions that Sarah made and offered a few more to round out our list from her expertise as a homeschooling parent.
- Go with What Your Kids Need
Every kid is different and may have different learning styles than their siblings. One may prefer a rigid structure while another prefers to move around while they learn. Figure out how they learn best and work that into your teaching.
- Apply Lessons to the Real-World
If your kid struggles with math but enjoys cooking or sewing, teach them fractions through recipe or clothing measurements. It may take a lot of math, time and patience, but the gift of time is what we really have now (allow them to take more time to putz around and figure it out).
- Focus on Basic Skills (Especially with Your Young Ones)
Not every assignment needs to be digital, complicated, or well planned. Trace letters with rice or glue as a visual and sensory learning experience. Count everything — steps when you walk, veggies on your plate or items in your grocery cart. Little by little, through repetition, your kids will absorb and retain the information. (Check out the Endless Alphabet App in the Apple Store or on Google Play)
- Have Your Kids Get Dressed!
Don’t let your kids stay in their pajamas all day, have them get dressed and ready for their day. This helps them with their routine and daily schedule.
Bonus Tip: Nurture, Nurture, Nurture – Connect with your kids, when you’re spending all day with your kids you can get to know them on a different level and grow closer as a family. Now is the time to emphasize nurturing and healthy relationships within your family.
One last thing to we’d like to leave you with is something that Akua wanted us to keep in mind, that as hard as it is, “this is a time we will never get back – it may have come about for reasons none of us would have picked, but at the same time we are getting to stop and get to really know who these kids are.”
If you’d like to watch the full training, the previously-recorded session is available on youtube.