How to Create an Educational Environment at Home
In the last few weeks, the novel coronavirus, now being called Covid-19, has caused schools around the country to shut down entirely after the Spring Break holiday. Superintendents first made the decision to close schools for an additional week out of an abundance of caution. However, many school districts are now shutting their doors for an additional two weeks and some reports are calling for schools to remain closed through the rest of the academic school year.
Compounding the problem, many parents are now home as many businesses are asking employees to work from home instead of coming into the office. Now, parents now have to figure out how to balance their work life and while making sure their children don’t fall behind in their studies. But after just a few days, parents are slowly starting to realize teaching isn’t easy. Teachers take days and weeks planning lessons and making sure each student in their class is getting the right amount of attention.
Now that kids are home, how can parents make sure the summer slump doesn’t become the quarantine slump? How can you keep your home organized while making sure you’re getting your own responsibilities done while also making sure your kids are studying and your home doesn’t fall apart. It might take a lot of hard work and cooperation from your family, but it can be done. Afterall, we’re in this for the long haul so we’re all going to have to work together.
Set a Realistic Schedule
If your family already has a morning routine, modifying it slightly to incorporate actual school time shouldn’t be too difficult. Since you don’t have to drive kids to school, it’s alright to let them sleep in a little longer before they start the day, but don’t let them get too comfortable.
Block out time for actual learning time, lunch, recess for younger kids, and even include chores to make sure your kids are doing productive at home and not everything is on the shoulders of mom and dad. There are various examples of schedules online from parents who have been homeschooling children for years. Find a schedule that works with your life that you feel your family will be able to follow and make adjustments as necessary.
The important thing is making sure the time scheduled for learning is actually used for learning. The more you bend the rules for what your kids can do during learning hour, the less seriously they will take their studies.
Talk to Your Child’s School or School District
Your child’s school is the best place for information when it comes to looking for instructional materials, websites, or tools for teaching your children. But since so many students are out of school, many school districts have decided that going online is the best way to keep students learning.
As schools have had to close, many teachers are now moving their instructions online. Essentially, if your kids can’t go to school, school can come to them. This is new territory for many schools, moving curriculum online will take some time. It will also take some time to notify all parents on how to access all the material and how to get help when students need it.
Create a Learning Space
With your child’s help, find a space in your house that you can designate just for learning time. This could be your dining room table, a spare bedroom, or any space large enough where your child or children can have all the space they need to study or be creative.
By letting your children help, they can decide what’s comfortable for them and it also gives them an opinion in the process of learning. They’re more likely to work and study without fuss if they’re in a space they feel comfortable in.
Keep Things Fun
At every opportunity, make sure to make learning fun. Whether it’s finding a unique way to teach simple math like using apples and oranges, or having reading time and you do the voices of the characters, making learning fun is the best way to keep kids engaged and interested in what they’re doing.
Use things around the house to teach shapes, colors, and sizes. Use lunch and dinner time as a way to teach math and science. And use break time for recess as a way to give kids some exercise for P.E.
Remember: the kids think of home as a fun, safe place. Don’t try to turn your house into a classroom.
A Little Bribe Never Hurt
Aren’t there times when you’re at work and you just don’t feel like working? Kids can get the same way. Sometimes, it’s alright to give them a little incentive for doing their school work or doing something educational, like reading, doing online school work, or doing chores around the house.
Bribes can be different things based on what your child likes. They can be as simple as a little more dessert at dinner, a couple of dollars, or extra time using their electronics like tablets or video game consoles.
Make sure the conditions for getting perks are clearly laid out so your kids know what they have to do to earn them. Create a checklist so they can keep track of all the things required of them during the day and what they will earn if everything is complete. How you reward your kids is entirely up to you.
Learn Your Child’s Learning Style
No one learning style is suitable for every child. Not all kids are going to learn from reading a book just like not all are great at learning from a lecture. It’s important to recognize your child’s learning style early on to prevent frustration. Asking your child’s teacher is the best way to figure this out if you’re not too sure. Older kids should already have a good sense as to how they like to learn.
Some children have special needs when it comes to learning and parents might not be sufficiently skilled to teach their kids as best as a teacher. Some students with special needs require individualized education plans or IEPs. These plans are required by law to be developed for students who require special instruction. In these instances, it’s best to speak with your child’s teacher to see what would be the best way to approach teaching your child at home so the plans developed by teachers are still being met.
Make Time for Yourself
You don’t have to become a full time teacher simply because your kitchen table has become a classroom, especially if you’re expected to work from home. Establish a schedule with your kids and give them tasks they can do without too much parental supervision.
Set up your work space close to where your kids are in case they need your help. Make sure to explain to them that you have work to do just like they do and everyone needs to stay on task as much as possible. It might not be easy when you have younger kids staying home who want you to be involved in everything, but it’s something they’ll eventually become accustomed to as time goes on.
Remember to Make Family Time
Make sure your daily schedule has time for your family to spend time together. Learning can happen all the time in your house, but there’s no reason why it needs to get in the way of just being a family. Currently, there is no end in sight for our current situation and this means your children will likely be home through the end of the school year and probably through summer break. This means your schedule can be a little flexible so that your kids don’t always feel as though they’re in a constant state of learning.
Of course, there are going to be days when you have things to do and your children are tired of the same old routine. It’s important that you talk to your family about the situation going on in the world and help them to understand how important it is that we all work together, especially if you’re having to do especially if you’re the only one in your family bringing in an income.
Talking, setting schedules, making agreements, and making time for your own separate responsibilities are all going to be very important over the next few weeks until schools and school districts decide how to handle educating students. But far more important is keeping your children safe from becoming sick or becoming exposed to the virus.
Schools may be out, but please don’t consider this an extended vacation. This time off is being done out of an abundance of caution to make sure everyone stays safe. Don’t use this opportunity to take your kids to amusement parks, malls, movie theaters, or any other public spaces. This is the time to keep your family safe at home and do your best to make sure they don’t lose any time keeping up their studies.