Homeschooling tips are a hot topic among parents right now. Thanks to social distancing, every parent in America has suddenly become a homeschool teacher whether they wanted to be one or not. For the uninitiated, it can be a daunting task, especially if they were never planning to do it in the first place.
Fortunately for anyone reading this, you have a former classroom teacher in your corner – me! I have a degree in Elementary Education, and while my focus was in the classroom, I have some general tips that will give you the knowledge you need to build a curriculum that works for both you and your child.
Generally, moving into a homeschooling curriculum is done with a lot of research on the front end. Even before beginning the school year, parents research the best ways to teach their kids and where to get materials. Some schools may be already set up online for this, but other schools may not have this advantage.
However, all that is out the window with social distancing. Because parents everywhere are basically in the process of sinking or swimming. I’ve put together 11 homeschooling tips to help you get back on track.
Homeschooling Tips to Ensure Success and Harmony
These homeschooling tips are basic ones. They’re designed to give parents a foothold into the homeschooling life so that they can move forward, making the best decisions possible for their kids. It’s all about making sure the kids get a good education without being bored out of their minds, which can be difficult at home. After all, ALL the distractions are in the home. However, these tips can help parents overcome some major hurdles and get started on the right foot.
1. Know Your Child
First and foremost, know your child. Some children learn better in a one-on-one setting. Some learn better in a group. Some have long attention spans, and some have ultra-short ones. It’s important to know exactly what your child’s educational needs are so you can design a curriculum that best fits them.
If your child has a short attention span or gets bored easily, keep the learning content engaging and rather short. Include time for them to work on their own and plenty of breaks for them to focus on something else, allowing them to give their full attention to their work when they come back to it.
For children who do better in groups, consider a platform like Zoom so that your child can study with a partner or small group. Just be sure to coordinate with the other parents on the subject matter.
2. Designate Time and Space for Learning
We just talked about attention spans and distractions. Setting up a designated time and space for learning helps keep those distractions to a minimum. While you probably won’t be teaching in a classroom-like environment, it’s good to have a nook or small room set aside for learning activities.
This homeschool space should be free of distractions and have a storage area so kids can leave their materials in the room when they’re finished with their work.
Allow for multiple breaks, as well, and don’t feel like you have to teach a 7 hour day. When homeschooling, it’s better to loosen the reigns so the kids can better absorb their material. Sleeping in a little means a more alert brain, and multiple breaks mean less boredom and great attention.
3. Learning Isn’t Always Textbook Based
With the kids at home, it’s a great time to let them pursue interests that they might otherwise not have time for. Drawing, creative writing, cooking easy recipes and the like may not seem like learning activities, but they are.
My thirteen-year-old daughter has more time now doing what she loves most (drawing).
This promotes creativity and stimulates those growing brains. Even Minecraft is a great learning tool that promotes creativity, problem-solving, and basic coding when using their red block system of powering things in the game.
Check out these five fun games for teens that will keep them active for hours.
4. Take Advantage of Free Online Resources
There are a plethora of free online resources out there for homeschooling. In fact, this is one of the biggest homeschooling tips you can read. You have access to resources out there. You don’t have to worry that you have to fumble through trying to create lesson plans. There is almost no end to the free PDFs and lesson plans out here on every subject from math to music.
5. Prioritize Educational Goals
Experts say that when homeschooling, it’s important to prioritize the areas where your child has the greatest need and then add in their biggest interest or passion. This keeps learning digestible, efficient, and fun for your child. It also gives you a better foundation on which to build your curriculum.
If math is a sore point for your child, focus heavily on helping him or her understand it. In addition, if he or she is passionate about cooking, let’s say, do more of that with your child and use that as a platform to introduce math, reading, and science concepts.
6. Stay Connected to Your Community
That might seem like a silly tip when we’re all sheltering in place, but it’s actually easy to do. All kinds of classes are beginning to hold online versions due to social distancing. Children can often find online classes for dance, piano lessons, chorus, coding, and more, many of which are in their community or immediately surrounding communities.
7. Take Online Virtual Field Trips
There are many attractions, museums, and zoos offering online virtual field trips that provide educational and entertaining experiences to bring the community together at a time when people need it most. For example, Atlanta is Hosting “Field Trip Fridays” and More—Online.
- Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Atlanta History Center
- Breman Museum
- Children’s Museum of Atlanta
- College Football Hall of Fame
- Fernbank Museum, 3D Theater and Forest
- Georgia Aquarium
- High Museum of Art
- Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University
- National Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Zoo Atlanta
8. There’s Nothing Wrong with Bribery
Feel free to bribe your kids (don’t feel guilty). Just like we make them eat their vegetables before they can have their dessert, we have to establish that their responsibilities have to be met before they can watch TV, play video games, or play with their toys. It’s a form of bribery, but one that we as parents are all used to. It also establishes clear boundaries early on that, while school may be out, the kids will still be learning.
9. Do Your Homework
You can’t teach the kids something that you don’t understand. This is another important one on the list of homeschooling tips. You have to do your homework so you can help them do theirs. Make a plan for their curriculum and be sure that you thoroughly understand it before trying to teach it to them. A lesson planner like this one from Teacher Created Resources is a must because it will help you stay on task and know exactly what you need to study before the kids do.
10. Give Yourself a Break
If you’re not a teacher, remember that YOU ARE NOT A TEACHER. Yes, you’re responsible for teaching your child, but there will be bumps in the road, and that’s okay. Most teachers have had years of experience teaching kids, and that’s in addition to their college major.
Your background in sales or carpentry or whatever your profession has in no way prepared you to take on this responsibility, and it’s okay to not be perfect.
11. Playtime is Part of Learning
Don’t forget that playtime is just as important as book time. Make your kids take a break from schooling. Get outside and go for a hike – well away from other people, of course. Play in the back yard. Do some jumping jacks. It’s important to get the kids moving.
Keeping kids physically active is an important part of their lives, and social distancing makes it all too easy for them to veg out all day long. Add some kind of physical fitness routine to every day to keep the kids moving at least a little.
These Homeschooling Tips Make a Great Foundation
These tips are general, and they’re designed to be. Not every approach works for every parent or every child. However, there are some basics that every new homeschooler should know to help them build a curriculum that works for them and their kids. These homeschooling tips will give you the broad strokes of beginning homeschooling that you need in order to create a plan that works for everyone. Good luck!
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