Coronavirus | school closures and how to teach kids at home
Schools around the world are closing and parents are being forced to teach kids at home.
This Coronavirus pandemic has caught us all by surprise and I imagine there are a lot of parents anxious that they aren’t cut out to teach their kids for weeks, possibly even months.
I worked in Education for a decade (teaching and advising) before homeschooling our boys. I don’t for a second think that this makes me a better home educator non-teacher trained parents.
It has however given me an insight into what goes on in school and how children learn.
So, I thought I’d share a few homeschooling tips and ideas that will hopefully reassure you and help keep you sane while at home.
A few ideas for you…
1. Make a list
Let’s remember that this is new to all of us. Try not to get overwhelmed by the endless offers of resources and suggestions.
Set aside some time as a family to make a list of all the things you want to do while off school together.
It could be anything from learning to do a flip on the trampoline, getting fit, playing Monopoly or Wii competitions.
Try to tick off as many as you can during your time together.
2. Deschool and connect
Deschooling is when you don’t do “school” for a while. It is a good idea because it allows children time to adjust to time at home and to get used to a new way of doing things.
Even children who choose to be homeschooled find value in being given time to adjust. It’s going to take a while for all of us.
Even after an adjustment period I want to reassure you that you don’t need to replicate school in any way.
There is no need to keep kids sat at desk ‘learning’ from 9 until 3. Many hours in school are spent on things other than direct learning.
If your children are used to being forced to learn at school they may also resist being ‘taught’ at home.
3. Take it easy
Don’t be afraid to relax and enjoy some time together.
This nasty virus will be causing a lot of people anxiety and worry so give yourself and your family a break and spend some time connecting.
This situation is totally new for us home educators too. We’re used to clubs, meet-ups, play dates and our kids are also missing their friends.
Connection is even more important right now… as is cutting everyone some slack and expecting big feelings and fatigue.
Sleep in. Watch a movie together. Play.
4. Utilise resources
There are loads of free resources available that you can use.
Twinkl are offering a free month of resources for parents in England.
If you have little ones I have a useful post full of fun and easy toddler activity ideas too.
There are pots of fun ways to learn a new language at home.
Maths – https://www.prodigygame.com
Science + maths – https://www.khanacademy.org
Science – https://learning-resources.sciencemuseum.org.uk/
Outdoors and Nature
5. Learn together
I find that choosing a topic to explore together is great way to learn a range of skills.
Ours topics are often nature based but you can let your kids choose something that interests them.
At the moment we’re doing a lot of Springtime activities. So frogspawn hunts, making our own frog lifecycle, writing in our nature journal, reading about frogs…
Feel free to download our Spring Activity Challenge Cards here.
A simple routine may be helpful especially if you’re used to everyone rushing out of the door each morning.
Deschooling for a while will give you a chance to find your families natural rhythm and then when you’re ready for a little structure try building a few flexible but predictable activities throughout the day.
We tend to head outdoors in the morning or play indoors if it’s cold and wet. Then we’ll come in to chill with a book or put the TV on while I make lunch.
I’ll set up an easy toddler activity for our little one to discover and I’ll work on a little project with our eldest.
We’ll play until our special teatime. We’ve just started this idea and it’s lovely. We get out the teapot and sit together and chat with a drink and a cake or biscuit. Sometimes I’ll use that time to read to them or we’ll talk or tell jokes!
There’s no one size fits all to home educating so try a few things and see what works for you guys.
7. Get outdoors
We’re not attending any of our usual group meet-ups at the moment so we’re heading outdoors a lot more.
If you’re lucku then you can take a walk in the woods or at the beach…anywhere to get some fresh air and prevent cabin fever.
8. Bake together
Baking together can be great fun and give you something yummy to eat together.
It’s a great way to encourage kids to try new foods too.
8. Dedicated time
When you’re spending a lot of time with your children it can be easy to assume that they’ve had their fill of you time.
As someone who spends almost every waking hour with my kids I can see the difference in behaviour and attitude when I even spend 15 minutes dedicated time with each child.
Connection really is everything and our days flow much better when we’re all feeling valued and together.
9. Laugh and Play
Laughter is really important but even more so during difficult times.
Kids tend to laugh a lot but as adults we often forget to.
Try playing some silly games, saying some tongue twisters, wrestling, tickling (only with permission!) pillowfights…
Anything that gets you laughing together.
10. Optional Challenges
Challenges worked well when I was a teacher too.
Try setting a daily challenge and don’t force…here are some examples…
1. Learn go count to 10 in a new language.
2. Build a giants bird nest.
3. Find 20 living things in the garden.
4. Find the word “great” in 3 different books.
11. Practice gratitude
Taking time to notice the positive things around us can be a really valuable activity.
I’ve put together 30 pages of free gratitude activities for kids.
12. A bit of mess is normal
Home schooling without mess is pretty impossible.
It’s best to learnt to live with it. We tend to do a mass clean up before bed but not worry too much during the day.
So, that’s a few ideas based on how we homeschool. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t have to be.
Please share if with anyone it may help.
Stay safe x
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