September is here and a majority of School Districts have opted for students to begin the academic year virtually, with the possibility of returning to in person classes in the near future.
Most Parents/Guardians, whether working from home or not, are attempting to manage everyday household needs with the learning needs of their children. Parents are finding out new information about their child’s style of learning – some need written and verbal directions; others need visual modes to learn; some require individualized attention; while others are able to complete tasks in record time with little to no assistance.
Wherever you find yourself and your child in this moment, understand that you are not alone! We are all in this together.
Now, before we jump into the hacks, let’s be clear on one thing, unless you are following a Certified Homeschool Program or you created one based on your State’s Education Laws, you are not actually homeschooling. Homeschooling is built on the tenants of freedom and flexibility in scheduling and learning that traditional school systems don’t provide. What most School Districts have put into place is a virtual traditional school that works in the same structure of a traditional school day (7-8 hours of learning), which we will dub “learning from home”.
So, having cleared that up, how can you ensure that you and your child don’t go insane with Learning from Home? Let’s check out some hacks below:
Hack #1: Create a designated space for Learning
*Ensure your child has a space for his/her learning that promotes autonomy, encouragement, and productivity. Flexibility is key, but consistency is as equally important.
Hack #2: Create Routines, follow given Schedules, and use a Checklist
*Routines are great for setting a rhythm of how the day should go. Schedules (which most students will have to follow based on what is provided by the school) should be worked into those daily routines. Use a Checklist to ensure that your child is meeting all points of his/her routine and schedule daily.
Hack #3: Map out important dates for the School Year
*Stay on top of dates provided by the School (including holidays, early dismissals, etc.). Use a desk or wall calendar to keep dates visible.
Hack #4: Take Breaks with Boundaries
*Being in one space all day can be draining (even adults know that). Schedule breaks into your child’s routine and allow them to experience moments that will rejuvenate them for learning (i.e. 5-10 minutes of mediation, yoga/stretching, dance breaks, etc.)
Hack #5: Take Learning Beyond the Classroom
*School Districts follow curriculums set by State and National Standards. Your child will benefit greatly from learning goals that mirror what he/she is studying in school, but also take learning outside the classroom (or in many cases the Zoom room). Learning beyond the classroom is simply reinforcing what your child is learning/studying in the classroom.
A short walk around the block, a trip to the kitchen, local workshops, reading aloud and searching for context clues, etc. provide not only learning experiences, but also increase problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and natural intellectual curiosity. Remember: Children don’t need a classroom to learn!
Aside from the hacks above, I’d like give you one more piece of advice – don’t reinvent the wheel! Children have been homeschooling and learning from home since the beginning of time. I promise you will not break your child or cause him/her to lose years of learning - it's just not possible.
In addition, this is a great time for families to take up passion projects. This will help to break up the monotony of your day to day routine. The possibilities are truly endless! Complete a 1000-piece puzzle and frame it. Create “snack bags” for the homeless and pass them out a few times a week. Exercise with the entire family and keep score – the person with the most completion days wins a prize.
Furthermore, be forgiving of yourself and your child. Mistakes and mishaps will happen. The beauty of learning is that it occurs at all ages and stages of life. And even better, we have humans have the capacity to learn, unlearn, and relearn something else. You don’t have to it all figured out in the beginning and neither does your child!
*Written by Donielle I. Turner, MS (Licensed Behavior Specialist) *