With kids doing distance learning more and more parents are finding it hard to focus. Some parents are working from home and trying to school their children. Some parents are left having to make hard decisions because their children are at home and they still have to work. No matter how we look at this it is hard and not the normal for many families. Many parents have never even thought of homeschooling their children before and yet here they are in full swing, homeschooling.
For most states this is going to be the new normal for the remainder of the school year. While I have never personally faced this myself with any of my now grown children, I did speak with a friend who did homeschool her children for years and I thought I would share some of these tips with you.
The first thing a parent should understand is that every child is going to learn differently. Some children will take easily to online learning whereas some children will struggle with it because they are more hands on learners. Hands on learners need a little more prompting and a lot of redirection. The primary goal is going to patience. Allowing yourself and the child time to walk away when things get frustrating, taking a few deep breaths and then starting over. As a parent is also important to understand that you cannot work harder than your child at their school work. The name of the game here is retention and they are going to have to do the work and put in the work.
Even if the school work is all online, paper and pencils are going to be your best friend. Some children are much better at the paper and pencil and this is okay. They can easily complete sentences or math problems on paper first then it can be inputted into the answer sheet online. Finding the best way for your child is going to be the key to success and a lot less frustration. If you have a struggling vocabulary learner then making funny sentences out of their spelling words help them to remember the words and of course repetition of writing and rewriting the words help as well. Most parents seem to struggle the most with math as many states now have common core. There are some really great math tutorials online and on you-tube. Khan Academy and ABC Mouse seem to be the go to sites for math tutorials. These interactive tutorials are perfect for both parents and children. Khan Academy is FREE and Khan Academy Kids services kids ages 2 to 7. It Depends on your age group whether you will need the kids version or the middle and high school version of Khan Academy.
When homeschooling it is also important to understand that the typical " In school " day is broken up into blocks of time. While most kids attend school for roughly 7 hours, instruction time is not that full 7 hours. There is recess, lunch, snack time depending on grade level, bathroom breaks, gym class, music, etc. A typical homeschool day for grades 3 and above is going to be roughly 3-4 hours. Highschool can be up to 8 hours depending on the class load, dual enrollment, AP classes,etc. Younger students for preschool to about 2nd grade generally require about 1-2 hours of instruction time. Now, some children are very focused and calculated when it comes to school work. So, don't be surprised if your 5th grader can end his or her day 2.5 hours. As long as you are checking the work and it is neat and complete with few mistakes, they are fine. If you find that the child's work is sloppy, incomplete and they clearly have not grasped a concept, it is time to revisit that area and re-do the work.
Keeping them busy throughout the rest of the day can sometimes be more exhausting than school work. Having a chore list is great for filling gaps in time as are puzzles, arts and crafts, baking and anything that will keep them entertained and still learning. Most parents do not understand that a child's math skills can be enhanced by allowing them to measure out ingredients as you have a family baking session. Kids can be learning while doing all day long. Visit Pinterest for many ideas like making homemade play-doh, side walk chalk, your own soap and so much more.
This is our new normal, at least for now. It won't be easy but you will see the rewards in the end when the lightbulb finally goes off and your child learns that new skill. Remember, you were your child's first teacher. You taught them to say Da-Da and Ma-Ma. You taught them to move their arms and crawl and move their legs to walk. You've got this!