This is a very trying time for all. So let’s take a deep breath and relax first. Your kids will be fine. And hopefully these tips for parents teaching kids at home during Coronavirus and social isolation will help you relax even more.
The reality is that many parents are pulling triple duty. They are expected to work from home, take care of their family and try to help their children with their studies.
Teachers’ reality is the same. I know. I work in education and many of my friends are teachers in various grades – anywhere from Junior Kindergarten to grade 12. Just like you, they are struggling to juggle working from home, and taking care of their families and their children’s education.
Often, they are learning new online teaching software or rapidly building on the basics they have to deliver online lessons. Not only that, but they also have to create digital lessons that may include videos, worksheets and discussions, post all that information online and check on the students’ progress. This takes significantly more time than working with a group of students who are right in front of you in the classroom.
So let’s all take a deep breath and go over these few simple tips for parents teaching kids at home during this trying time.
Teaching Kids at Home
Set Up a Schedule
Routine is the best way to get the most productivity out of anyone. That is why all teachers set up schedules and routines in their classrooms. At home it will look a little different, but nonetheless it is important.
Some things to keep consistent for your kids during their ‘learn from home’ days include:
Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
Since you don’t have to leave the house, you may choose to let your kids sleep in a little longer. And that’s totally fine. Just make sure that you wake them up at the same time every day.
Establish a Routine
Children thrive on routine. The first thing that teachers do in their classrooms is establish routines before teaching the curriculum. So while teaching kids at home, establish a routine that will work for your family for the next few weeks.
Doing the same thing at the same time is not as important as doing the same thing one thing after another. You may let them sleep in while you get in a few hours of work. But once they are up, make sure that they are doing the same thing every day and hopefully similar to what their regular routine would be under normal circumstances. This will make the transition back to school easier at the later date.
For example, let them sleep in while you get some work done first thing in the morning, but once they are up, ensure that they groom themselves before having breakfast.
Establish how much work the children should do before taking breaks or having snacks. They do it as school, they will be able to do it at home too. Make sure that you communicate your expectations to your children. They like to know what to expect.
Make sure to include some outdoor time or if that is not an option, for some indoor exercise.
Give your children time to play and relax as well. They don’t need to spend the whole 6 hours of school work. They don’t do so at school, so why would you expect them to do it at home.
Keep your afternoon routines as close to the original ones as possible.
After breakfast, when your children are ready to start their day, eliminate all destruction before sitting down to do the school work. It is easier for everyone to concentrate on the task at hand when the TV is off, the phone is silenced and the music is turned down.
Establish What Needs to be Completed Today
Go over the entire day’s work and determine the order in which the work needs to be completed. Since kids like to have a schedule, make a checklist of all the tasks that need to be completed before starting to work. This will serve as a very useful guideline for your day.
Get What Matters Most or What is Most Difficult Done First
If your child struggles with math, get them to do math first. Tackling the most difficult work first will give your child a sense of achievement once the work is done. Everything he or she will be working on afterward will seem relatively easy.
Leave the easiest or most engaging activities for the end of the day. It is always satisfying to end the school day with an activity that your child enjoys doing. Not mentioning the fact that it will be much easier to convince your child to do something they like rather than something they dread doing.
Chunk the Work
When a child is faced with a whole list of tasks they need to accomplish, they can get overwhelmed (I know I do, and I’m not a child). So while teaching kids at home, do one thing at a time. Give your child one page of a worksheet or assignment to complete instead of the whole thing. Once they are done, give them the next part.
Keeping the work short allows children to accomplish something in a short period of time. That brings satisfaction and further motivation to continue on.
Don’t forget to praise your child for the work they completed, no matter how small. A few words of praise and encouragement can go a long way for your child’s mental health.
Give Children Frequents Breaks
At school a lot of time is spent transitioning between classes, subjects or activities. This gives students an opportunity to move around and socialize a little. Try to apply the same rule at home. Let your child walk around, stretch, go to the bathroom, get a drink or a snack between worksheets, assignments or specific subjects they are working on.
Realize that Your Learning-at-Home Day Will Be Shorter than the School Day
The reality is that parents teaching kids at home can help their children get their work done in much less time than it would take them in class. That’s because class time is also used for instruction, discussion and additional questions. There are also many distractions that may make it harder for your child to focus.
With that in mind, take into consideration that a good portion of a school day is taken up by routines, transitions and breaks. Therefore, even if your child takes some time for a break between worksheets or projects they will be able to complete the assigned work in the fraction of the time it would have taken them to do it at school.
If your child is engaged in a particular activity or a subject, let them run with it and explore. This will allow them to learn more about the subject and give you a moment of peace.
Beyond Curriculum-Related Learning
In order to keep the cabin-fever down and your child’s mental health in check consider additional activities to keep them busy, happy and relaxed.
Get Some Fresh Air
If you can, go outside for a walk with your kids or send them out to walk the dog. If you have a backyard, send them outside. Get them to rake the grass or shovel the snow from the patio. Give them a soccer ball to kick around or a skipping rope to jump.
If you’re stuck at home with no way to leave, open your windows and air out your home. Doing so will stimulate your brain by providing it with fresh air. Get your children to take some deep breaths while standing by the open window. Or maybe even do some of their work on a balcony if that is an option. Having some fresh air circulate through your veins and your house is bound to make your children more energized and refreshed.
Make Your Kids Move Their Body
If your kids are able to go outside for a walk, to kick a ball around, or take a bike ride, that’s fantastic.
But if that’s not an option, there are many YouTube videos for kids that encourage them to move their bodies. They offer activities like dance, stretching, or aerobic exercises.
Even video games, like some of the VR games or older systems like Kinect provide a ton of opportunities for children to move around.
The key is to get them moving instead of staying parked on the couch for hours.
Let Your Kids Explore Their Interests
This free time will give your child an opportunity to explore their interests or spend more time on the projects that they find engaging.
If you’re looking for curriculum-related materials, many educational companies are now offering free online resources for every subject area imaginable. A simple Google search will provide you with hundreds of resources available for the next 2-3 weeks for free. Many of them are even streamed live based on a consistent schedule every day.
Here are a few blog posts that you may find helpful:
On the other hand, this is a great opportunity for your child to learn things that are related to everyday living. Parents teaching kids at home can include lessons in housekeeping, budgeting and general life skills. Depending on your child’s age, you may teach them to do the laundry, cook or bake, sew or make something with yarn. You may get your child to check flyers for sales on items you need to purchase or have them take stock of your pantry.
These are just a few of many things your children can do during the times when they are not working on their curriculum related lessons.
Let Your Kids Relax
It is a stressful time for all. Parents teaching kids at home need to know that as important as school work is, your child’s mental health is more important. Also, it has much longer lasting effects (positive or negative) than any curriculum related lesson. So let your kids take time to relax and just do what they want to do.
This will also allow you to get more work done as they won’t be ‘in your hair’ all the time.
Does that mean extended screen time? For some, definitely yes. Or maybe letting them work on a craft for hours? For sure. And that’s OK.
This Too Shall Pass…
Keep in mind that this too shall pass… For now, we all need to do what we can to stay healthy – physically, mentally and spiritually.
How has your family adapted to this difficult time? What strategies have you implemented to make your day go smoother while you are juggling your work, family and furthering your children’s education by teaching kids at home?