The homeschool era: what parents can do to keep their kids engaged in learning?
The year 2020 has seen an unprecedented amount of challenges thrown at parents and their dependents. Jobs have either been lost or gone remote by the millions. Quarantines have kept adults and children alike cooped up indoors for months on end. Social distancing has made it difficult to do anything out of the house when you have a kid in tow.
Perhaps the most dramatic change of all, though, has come from the mass migration to schooling at home.
The challenges of homeschooling during COVID-19
The coronavirus has created a new phenomenon, which we’ll conveniently dub the “new homeschool era.” This migration en masse has typically revolved around two educational options as the 2020-21 school year has begun:
- The hybrid option: First, we have the hybrid school model, in which students go to socially-distanced, in-person classes on certain days of the week and stay home to learn online during the other days.
- The fully remote option: Second, we have a fully remote option, in which students attend 100% virtual online classes every day of the week.
In both cases, parents are required to be much more involved than they have been in the past, which can put an enormous strain on schedules and finances. This is particularly difficult for low-income families and parents who are juggling a remote work schedule or a side hustle and school schedules for multiple younger children.
While the logistics can feel mind-numbing at times, a quiet-yet-significant challenge that the new homeschooling situation has created is the issue of bored, uninterested, and generally unengaged children. Forced to sit all day apart from others with a mask on in class or, even worse, at home staring at a screen, kids are struggling to maintain a vested interest in their educational studies.
Keeping students engaged in the learning process
If you’ve found this nefarious apathy has crept into your own brand new homeschooling situation, here are a few suggestions for ways that you can keep your children engaged throughout the rest of the school year.
Find extracurricular outdoor activities
Getting outdoors isn’t just an important way to reduce stress, stay active, and maintain your family’s health during quarantine. It’s also an ideal way to break up the monotony of the current school scenario.
Particularly if your child is at home all day long, get them outside at various times to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.
If you’re looking for ways to keep them engaged in their learning, in particular, use this time to reinforce lessons from school.
For instance, if your child is learning about dinosaurs or pirates in class, hit up a local beach with a metal detector and see what you find. Even if you don’t uncover a T-Rex’s skeleton or a pirate’s treasure chest, you’ll likely find a coin or even a piece of jewelry. The hands-on experience of finding treasures under the earth will help to reinforce the information that your kids are learning in their lessons.
Find extracurricular indoor activities
If you live in a small apartment in the city or in a colder climate, chances are regularly heading outside isn’t always an option — and that’s okay. You can still find excellent learning opportunities right in your own home.
For instance, you can make a quick search on Pinterest to find good non-digital quiet time printables or you can keep Legos and other creative activities on hand. It’s also a good idea, once again, to look for any chance where you can connect what your child is doing to their actual school lessons, as well.
If they’re learning about Michelangelo and da Vinci, bust out some Play-Doh and have them sculpt. If you find some jewelry at the beach, like in the previous example, bring it home and study what it’s made of. Is it gold, silver, tungsten? Look up the history of the metal, how the jewelry is made, and turn the entire event into a learning experience.
Embrace flexibility and adaptability
Finally, as you look for ways to keep your kids involved, remember to adopt a flexible and adaptable mindset. This may feel challenging when your schedule feels out of control, but it’s important nevertheless.
If you can maintain a sense of “rolling with the punches,” it can help reduce the stress levels present in your home. This can benefit everyone. For you, it can allow you to focus and positively find good opportunities for your children to engage in learning. For your kids, it will free them up from feelings of overwhelm and stress and encourage them to engage in their learning once again.
Keeping kids engaged in learning
We live in difficult times, and chances are most of your attention is focused on essentials like paying bills and getting your remote work done and turned in on time. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay!
However, whenever you can, it’s still important to try to go above and beyond, especially for your children. When an opportunity arises to go outside or even engage in some unplugged learning indoors, try to facilitate it. Your kids will benefit from keeping that spark of learning alive as they, too, struggle through the changes that have come with the ongoing pandemic.