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Like many of you, our fun and carefree week-long spring break has turned into weeks and weeks on end of the kids being home from school. After our family enjoys our originally planned spring break from school, doing staycation ideas of course, we will begin home learning. You may be wondering how to do homeschooling when you are not a teacher?”, stick to these tips from a former teacher.
As a current educator and a former teacher, I will tell you not to panic. No one expects you to teach your kids one on one for 6 to 8 hours per day. In fact, I beg you NOT to do that. There are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure that everyone has their sanity at the end of all of this.
Why Should I Begin Home Learning During This Break?
Listen, I get it. You are thinking, I have to work! Many people are working remotely from home, getting on conference calls and some are still even commuting into work. It feels impossible to add one more thing into the mix right now. I know that I feel like we are barely surviving in this new normal for us.
Here’s why you should provide some structure for home learning:
- Your kids (and you) need some structure. Implementing home learning will provide structure and routine for the entire house. Your kid’s teachers will hate you if they go back to school and have not had to follow any routine… I am kidding but please, please, please provide some routine, it will make their transition back to school smoother.
- It will help your kids from not falling far behind in their learning. When this is all over, teachers are remarkable and will do a fantastic job of getting students caught up, and developing lessons that hit the priority standards. If your child hasn’t done a single math problem, it will be hard for them to get back into the swing of things.
- It will support your routine at home. You have things to get done right? If kids are working on school work, you can get some of your work done. You do not have to work one on one with your student the entire time- I go into that more in depth below.
- It’s rewarding. Why do you think teachers go into the profession? Let me tell you, it’s not for the money. Not to sound cliche but it’s pretty awesome to help kids learn and see their little brains working. Enjoy this time with your children and soak it up.
I am Not a Teacher, So What Do I Do During Home Schooling?
Your role is simple: provide structure and resources for the learning. You want to know a secret? Effective teachers don’t teach kids anything. Gone are the days that teachers stand in front of the class and regurgitate information to kids while they write it down in their notebooks.
Teachers provide enthusiasm and an excitement for learning. They provide rich resources that engage students to want to learn. Use stories, and fun activities to get kids excited. You can do all of these things!
No one expects you to sit down and teach quantum physics to your child. Create a workspace, a designated time and an expectation that your child or children learn during that time.
To help everyone out, I created a list of journal prompts that will last you for six weeks! Grab that freebie to use as quiet writing time for your kids.
What Should the Structure of Home Learning Look Like?
Again, your child, no matter what age group does not need to be tied to the kitchen table for 6 to 8 hours per day in “school”. Spend just a couple of hours for elementary level kids and 3-4 for middle to high school students per day.
Break the day up if you’d like. There are some advantages to having the entire day at home to spread out the learning for your kids, whereas a school only has a few hours to cram it all in.
Follow these simple guidelines to ensure a successful system:
- Begin first thing in the morning on full tummies. Right after breakfast, get started on some activities. It is much harder to pull your kid away from Minecraft later in the day to do some math problems. Your kids will be well rested and more focused.
- Use “afternoon fun” as a motivator. “If we get these three activities done, we can watch a movie” or “if we finish all 3 chapters, we can go play outside”. Teachers use rewards all the time to motivate kids and it is super effective. Trust me.
- Model for your kids, and then let them be on their own. In education, we call this “catch and release” or the “I do, you do, we do” method. The idea is that you want to show your kid what to do, model it and then let them go. After they’re done, follow back up and go over their work.
- Ask lots of questions. Rather than giving answers or telling them what to think, ask them. Say things like “how’d you get that answer?” or “Why do you think the character made that decision?” Remember, your role is to facilitate the learning.
- Make learning fun. Get outside, use sidewalk chalk, and find opportunities for math while baking, etc. As parents we have an advantage of being able to do a lot more fun things than teachers, like getting outside. Take a virtual tour of a museum, tune into virtual story times… the possibilities are endless.
- Follow a schedule. Make a schedule that works for you but then stick to it. Kids go through their days at school by following a very structured schedule. If you have multiple children they can all be working on their own work at their own level but following the same schedule. Your schedule can look something like this:
10 minutes of new math.
30 minutes of social studies/science.
30 minutes of choice.
20 minutes of silent reading.
I wrote about this hanging chart in another one of my posts about how to create a routine at home and survive school breaks. Man, am I glad I have it now. It’s a great way to keep the kids and yourself on a schedule.
What on Earth Are My Kids Supposed To Learn?
Don’t panic! Right now there are about a million, honestly, probably 10 million different resources out their to help with home learning. So many programs and sites are offering resources for free.
The first thing you want to do is check your state’s board of education website to see which standards your kids need. The documents are pretty user friendly. Remember, you do not need to teach every standard! I just find it helpful when I am looking for math practice sheets online to know what type of math my kid is currently learning.
Many state department’s even have resources for families and for learning. Here’s an example from the Colorado Department of Education’s website outlining literacy and comprehension for 2nd grade.
Join Avenue Kate’s mom community on Facebook. I will be uploading resources and links to help support parents during this time. It’s a wonderful community of women that support each other through motherhood.
In addition, I have been building a pretty amazing Pinterest board with lots of great resources and activities for home learning for all ages. Follow me on Pinterest and you can get access to all of those great pins! Pinterest will be your best friend in all of this.
Now is a great time to read chapter book series with your kids. Kids receive benefits even when you are reading to them. Magic Treehouse is a great series for young readers and a favorite in our family.
You've Got This
At the end of the day, remember to give yourself some grace. Any learning that occurs is positive. Provide the structure for your kids to learn.
Don’t forget to jump into my Facebook group to gain more free resources. As an educator I know that it is not as easy as it sounds but, I hope you’ve learned a little on how to do homeschooling when you are not a teacher.