Welcome to quarantine homeschooling: survival tips for parents.
Parents nationwide have been thrust into the role of classroom teachers and homeschool parents. The unplanned home school period may only be for the school year’s final semester, but it’s still a major challenge, as kids and parents adapt to the new schedule. You may feel unprepared to take on the role of teacher but focus on the bright side. You have the chance to bond with your kids as you engage them and expand on the lessons their schools provide with creative, practical, and fun activities.
The parental learning curve
Your kids will be accessing online software and digital apps for a significant portion of their studies. You may need to brush up on some of the basics of remote learning yourself, so you can help your kids. Video conferencing software and the ins and outs of Google Classroom are just a couple of technologies you may need to understand. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tutorials available.
If you’re not handy with computers, you may want to hire someone to do a full security tune-up on your home computers to ensure your kids are safe and trained on digital media while studying at home. Some of the things you may want to address to make sure your kids aren’t vulnerable during their time online include the following:
- Installing anti-virus software to ensure your kids don’t accidentally download malicious threats.
- Adding a strong password to your home network to keep strangers from spying on your household’s web surfing activities.
- Including strong spam filters on your and your kid’s email addresses.
- Blocking access via software or your home router to specific websites (such as social media and online gaming sites) to keep your kids off of them.
- Limiting the hours your kids can go online by adjusting the router settings.
- Talking with your kids about the importance of internet safety, such as asking them to not engage with strangers online, reveal their full name or where they live, and telling an adult about strangers messaging them.
Designating a functional classroom space at home
Regardless of how small your home space is, creating a designated classroom spot is optimal to keep your kids distraction-free and learning. Encouraging good study habits is the first step to a successful home-learning program. The ideal way to set up a homeschool classroom is by converting a spare bedroom or office into a study space. But if you don’t have a spare room, your home classroom may be the dining room table. Or the kitchen counter. The key to your child’s study success is to establish a daily routine no matter the size of the work area.
If you have kids of several ages, you may want to separate them so they may have their own study spaces. Younger kids may need more room to spread out while young adults may only need a small work table in a quiet place to work.
Treat the study room as an official classroom and make sure your kids help in the cleanup at the end of the study day. Reorganize the study room so it’s ready the following morning. Involving the kids in keeping the study area clean and organized is essential for a distraction-free space, so you and your kids don’t waste time looking for missing items.
If the study area is a shared space, such as the dining room table, keep large baskets or bins handy where books and supplies can be quickly dropped in and put away, so you can resume use of the dining room for the evening. Put butcher paper or plastic tablecloth down for younger kids who need to color or complete art projects. The paper can be discarded at the end of the day and the plastic tablecloth can be wiped down, keeping the dining table clean and protected.
Making learning fun and creative
Kids usually learn best when they’re given hands-on projects that take what they learn a step further. Find creative, real-world uses for the topics they’re learning about. If they’re learning about energy, for example, you could teach your kids about how much electricity your family consumes.
Show them where the electric meter is located and how the utility company calculates energy usage. Turn some lights on in the house as your kids monitor the meter so they can see how the dial turns faster or the number count rises higher as more energy is consumed. Review the section of your utility bill showing a historical graph of your home consumption in the last year.
Ask your kids why they think the graph is higher in the summer or winter months and how they can reduce the home’s energy usage. Tie the lesson in with how everyone’s energy usage affects the environment. A simple lesson on energy can teach them about science, ecology, math and statistics, and environmental stewardship.
This too shall pass
If homeschooling doesn’t feel like a natural fit for you and your family, you’re likely, not alone. Keeping kids engaged and on track with their studies is a full-time job and art. Luckily, this school year is almost over and summer vacation is on the horizon. Taking just a few small steps to keep things running smoothly and the learning experience enjoyable will get you to summer faster.