Most of the nation’s families have suddenly found themselves schooling at home without any warning or preparation. Here are some essential tips to help your family not just survive, but thrive, in this new and unexpected season:
1. Create an Environment of Learning: As the phrase implies, an environment of learning goes far beyond the classroom. As parents, we do not stop working once we leave our jobs. There are still meals to be prepared, grass to be cut, and various other household chores that require our attention. And for some do-it-yourselfers, there may be additional home maintenance or automotive projects to be completed. Each of these present perfect opportunities to invite our children into our work, teaching them valuable life skills, while spending quality time together.
2. Don’t Settle for a Cookie-Cutter Approach: One of the huge advantages of homeschooling is the ability to teach in a way that best reflects the student’s learning style—i.e. visual learning, hands-on learning, etc. Homeschooling offers many types of a curriculum tailored to all styles of learning, which not only will enhance the educational process, but also serve to limit any potential frustration. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, a new teaching approach may be the key to unlocking their understanding.
3. Teach the Value of Servanthood: Though hands-on serving is now limited due to the Coronavirus, technology still provides some great opportunities to reach out to other people. The elderly are the most susceptible to the Coronavirus as well as scammers who prey on their vulnerabilities. Check in on elderly neighbors and family members and leave groceries and other supplies on their doorsteps. Combining education with acts of service makes homeschooling feel less like work and more like simply living. For example, have your students call an elderly friend or family member and ask them to share the most trying times they experienced in their lifetime, both personally and as a nation. Then have your students write a research paper based on their conversations. Doing so not only provides an opportunity to learn history from people who lived it, but also helps preserve their stories and experiences.
4. Get Physical: With many schools having limited Physical Education options, take advantage of this time to teach your children the value of physical fitness. Set up a basketball goal or volleyball net in the yard, throw a Frisbee or ball around, or find some hiking trails. There are also less strenuous outdoor activities that provide opportunities for learning. Planting a vegetable or flower garden can teach them about horticulture and servicing the lawnmower can help educate our children about small engines.
5. Read Together: Instead of binge-watching Netflix, take some time to read out loud together. From classic literature like C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to age-appropriate biographies including Ralph Moody’s Little Britches series, reading together as a family not only engages the theater of the mind and fosters a love of reading, but also helps our students with their vocabulary and writing skills. Whether your homeschooling experience is limited to these few required months, or this season inspires a permanent shift in how you choose to educate your children, take advantage of this time together as a family and use this national crisis as an opportunity to parent with a purpose.