Many parents in the U.S. are suddenly having to deal with school closures and have no idea when their kids will be going back to school. This means that there are a lot of makeshift homeschools taking place across our nation of necessity. If you are a parent who has been considering becoming a homeschool teacher, this should be seen as an opportunity to experiment with how that would actually play out for you and your child.
This moment is a great chance for you to test your plan and flex your wings a bit. In this period of crisis and social distancing, this pandemic has affected more than just the economy, but how we are temporarily living our lives. Many of us work in industries that have shuttered their businesses. Those who work within non-essential markets are being asked to stay at home or work from home.
If you are a parent who is now finding yourself at home with the kids and having to adjust to this new way of life, never fear! Helping to maintain and take responsibility for your child’s education until school is back in session will be a great way to distract yourself from worrying about what is currently out of our control. The good news is that staying busy and focusing on your children will help you find a new sense of purpose.
Your child’s school may be offering online learning alternatives, doing video classrooms, or some form of structure to keep their students as on track as possible while being home. You can oversee this learning process and facilitate a healthy learning environment and keep the home a peaceful yet industrious household. Let’s discuss some ways that you can provide that safety net for your child in order to keep them on track.
Tips to Improve Your Child’s Education at Home
1. Keep a Routine
During the school week, keep a routine. Maybe you allow for an extra hour of sleep to offer an incentive, but make sure everyone is still up and operating at a decent time in the morning. If your child usually has to be up super early to get ready, eat, and catch the bus or commute to school, letting them sleep in a little seems fair and a good reward for adhering to the new way of life.
A routine for school should involve dedicated blocks of time set aside for their online learning. Maybe segment the day into periods, much like their regular routine at school, to keep things feeling consistent. Leave small breaks for meals and allow your children to take breaks to use the restroom.
2. Set Aside a Designated Space for Learning
If they watch videos or participate in online learning on a tablet or laptop, set aside a designated space like the dining room table or the den if you have one. Learning should not be done while lying in bed, or somewhere relaxation or sleep takes place. If learning does take place from the comfort of the bed, it can quickly become a place the brain associates with work and not for rest or sleep. Or vice versa, the bed can create a sense of relaxation or tiredness and hinder the learning process.
3. Check in with Your Child Regularly
While the school may be offering online learning, you still need to check in regularly, and I mean REGULARLY. Make sure they are staying on track, not getting distracted, and surfing the web or Youtube when it does not apply to what they are learning. They can do their social media updates and general leisure activities only during allotted times and after school. When you check-in, ask meaningful questions that require them to give you detailed answers about what they are learning, what the assignment, quizzes, or projects are expected and help them lay out a plan for completing them. Do not just expect that they will sit there and be self-motivated enough to stay on course and complete their work in a timely manner.
4. Give Your Child Lots of Encouragement!
Give lots of encouragement! Every day, find something that you can praise them on and boost their confidence in their abilities to operate during this time of severe upheaval. Be genuine and take a first-hand look at how smart and accomplished your child is and find a way to capitalize on their strengths. If they are having success in one subject and struggling in another, see if you can find a way to use their strengths from that other subject to improve the learning of the subject they’re not so strong in.
5. Help Your Child with Subjects that May Be Challenging for Them
Struggling in a particular subject can be a result of confusion, lack of understanding of the overall concepts, or boredom. Try and figure out and discuss what the underlying cause is and find some extra resources to tackle that area of difficulty. If the subject is a trigger of intense anxiety and you are not getting through no matter what. Online tutoring and a return to the basics and early concepts within that subject will help them get back to speed and feel more confident around that area. If a subject like math is a trigger for your child or teen and drama, frustration or fights break out when trying to make headway with a subject of struggle, be sure not to escalate the frustration.
6. Set Aside Time to Discuss Jobs or Career Paths
If you have teenagers, set aside some time to discuss jobs or career paths (if they had/have them), bank account best practices, and how to budget. With your teen that is closing in on graduation, you can start thinking and discussing college, tuition, student loans, etc. The goal is to educate them on the pros and cons they will be faced with in this modern age. Don’t sugar coat it for them. Tell them that it is okay not to go to college until they know that they have a clear goal, and the knowledge of their future debts in mind before just starting college without knowing what their futures could actually look like.
I firmly believe that the role of college educations and their value in the workforce very much depends upon the desired career path and the requirements of those industry’s average requirements for getting a job. College is not meant for everyone and we need to stop being catalysts for pushing our kids into college and a life with ridiculous amounts of debt without giving them fair warning about what it will mean for them and their futures.
7. Remain Calm and Grow Your Relationship with Your Child
During this unprecedented time, try and keep the family unit calm and give the chance to grow your relationships. Have game nights and do board games with the kids. If they are gamers, learn how to play some of their games with them. Encourage them to share their hobbies with you and nurture those hobbies as well as get involved where and when you can.
8. Encourage Reading Books or Listening to Audiobooks
Encourage reading. You know those things called books we used to check out at the library? They can still be magical places to find an escape from our current reality. Read to your little ones and even create a fun challenge for kids of all ages by promising a treat, meal, or the desired item, if they can manage to read (3 or more for teens and six or more for little ones) per month. You can request a summary or short report on each book if you want to take it further.
9. Teach Your Child How to Manage Chores, Deadlines, and Routines
In a world with technology at the center of almost everything, teach your kids how to properly and effectively create and manage chores, deadlines, and routines into daily, weekly, or monthly calendars like Google Calendar and show how to set reminders and checklists. Instilling organizational skills within your children will only help them now and in the future.
10. Try to Reduce Cabin Fever
Reduce Cabin Fever. Depending on how strict your state is with social distancing, you may be quarantined to your house and maybe your yard. This will be difficult for everyone to manage physically and mentally. Be sure to add time for exercise and mindfulness. The Headspace application is tremendously helpful and provides exercises and classes for meditation, stress relief, how to handle change, self-love and self-care, sleep aids (which are fantastic), and even a varied set of guided physical exercise routines. This app is well worth both the initial free trial as well as the purchase fee. No guilt will be felt by investing in yours and your child’s mental health.
11. Check Your Child’s Homework
Check their homework, help them revisit areas that need some work. Use this time to experiment and see if homeschooling after COVID19 is really going to be for you and your family.
Suggestions or Comments?
If you have any suggestions from your own experiences, that could be useful to someone else going through this too, please comment and add your tips and tricks! Let’s all remember that we are going to get through this time together and let this also be a time we learn to cherish, love, and respect one another.