School shutdowns have turned parents into substitute teachers. Don’t panic. Although it might seem overwhelming at first, keeping your children learning is easier than you think. Here are a few tips for setting up your home school.
Check With the Your School District
School districts are working hard to make sure parents have the resources they need to keep learning on track. Leander ISD, which serves Bryson families, is introducing a variety of new services to expand opportunities for distance learning including video meetings via Google Hangouts and Zoom. There is also a Teaching and Learning Parent Guide with some great tips. District updates can be found here.
School vs. Home School
Don’t rush into recreating school at home. Kids are as used to the separation between school and home as you are to the separation between work and home. It will take some getting used to. If you can, spend time together doing family activities that don’t feel like school. Play board games, watch interesting documentaries and take virtual museum tours. Talk, laugh, cook. The point is to build a solid foundation for learning.
Know Your Child
Not all kids learn the same way, so you will need to build your learning environment around your child. Some kids thrive in an online learning environment but for others, it’s hard. Some kids are auditory learners and some are visual. Young children tend to be very tactile. Figure out how your kid learns and plan accordingly.
Don’t Do School at Home
Resist the temptation to set up desks and a whiteboard. While they are necessary in a classroom environment, homeschooled kids don’t need them (unless they like them). Throw out the school schedule, as well. You don’t have the time, and kids don’t need a solid six hours of academic work. Shoot for two to four hours depending on the age of your child.
Be Careful of Schedules and Checklists
Schedules, routines and checklists are all well and good but life happens so it’s important to be flexible. Set aside time for doing the schoolwork your child’s teacher sends but don’t stress if an urgent phone call or work meeting gets in the way. Learning can happen at any time.
Learn With Your Kids
It seems counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do for your child is admit you don’t have all of the answers. Saying, “I don’t know, but we can find out together” models a positive attitude toward learning. No one can know everything, but everyone can spend some time doing research to figure out the answer.
Always Make Time to Read
Books open a million doorways. Set aside time to read together as a family. Read out loud to them or play an audiobook. This helps maintain vocabulary and reading comprehension. If your child becomes passionate about a topic found in a book, help him or her to research it further and create projects based on it.
Let Them Be Bored
A mistake many parents make is trying to keep their kids busy all of the time. Boredom is a good thing. Put away the video games and turn off the television then tell the kids to find something to do. Resist telling them what to do. It won’t be long before they start using their imaginations to create games, art projects and other activities on their own.
Stay Positive and Don’t Compare
The hardest part for any parent when it comes to at-home learning is staying positive. You are always going to second-guess yourself. That’s okay, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Also, don’t let social media influence you. Some kids are early learners and others are late bloomers — most fall somewhere in between. Pay attention to what your kids are learning and doing and don’t try to replicate what your friends’ kids are doing.