Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 1: Planning your Day
Whether you have withdrawn your children voluntarily or your school has been shutdown due to COVID-19, the reality of homeschooling your own children can be a daunting one. I totally get it! I’m a teacher and it has me a little anxious about how I am going to educate my own child here at home too. Particularly with further travel and social restrictions being put in place, the options of environments to educate your child are getting few and far between, putting pressure on the few resources you most likely have in your home to cater for education.
But let me put your mind at ease straight away!
In fact it is the very opposite and when embraced openly can have great advantages over the traditional schooling system.
A typical homeschooling day looks very different to a typical school day. In a typical classroom, a teacher has up to 30 little people to manage and educate. At home you may only have one (as I do) or you may have several more (my hat goes off to you!). For this very reason then, the amount of time you need to spend teaching can be reduced dramatically. Really you should be spending no more than 2-3 hours engaging in ‘formal’ learning activities. Of course you can totally spend more, but for most children, with one-on-one attention, 2-3 hours will be plenty.
Who is feeling relieved already?!
The remainder of your children’s time may be spent doing the following:
– bike riding
– outside play
– building cubby houses
– arts and crafts
– bushwalks (if socially possible)
– cooking in the kitchen
And the list could go on…
Do not underestimate the value of these activities to your child’s education. Not only do they provide a brain-break opportunity, but they also serve to engage other parts of the brain that normal paper and pencil activities can not.
So then how can you plan your day? No doubt you will have other busy jobs to attend to, whether it be making dinner, cleaning the house, working from home yourself or even just needing a bit of downtime. Don’t underestimate the need for downtime. It isn’t you being slack, it is you being sensible! Teachers in classrooms need breaks too! DON’T FEEL GUILTY!!!
So let me layout a few ground rules before we talk about the specifics of a daily plan. Keep these close so that when you are feeling overwhelmed from trying to juggle everything (including teaching your children) you have a base-line to always go back to.
#1. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
I can’t emphasise this enough. The best learning can happen out of the simplest ideas. You don’t need whiz-bang resources to help your child understand a concept.
#2. DON’T BE AFRAID WHEN YOUR CHILD DOESN’T GET IT
Repetition is the key to learning. Most likely your child will not get a concept the first time you teach it to them. You will need to revisit concepts several (and I’m talking possibly up to 50 times!) before a child has fully grasped a concept!
#3. BE PATIENT
I know this is easy to say from afar, but it really is important. And if you feel like you are loosing your patience, step away from what you are doing and take a break. Come back to it another time when both you and your child are fresh.
#4. CONSIDER THE TIME OF DAY
I can guarantee you will have the best success teaching your child in the morning rather than in the afternoon (although I’m pretty sure most of you would have worked that out yourself). Personally I am going to be avoiding doing any formal teaching after lunch. If we do anything after lunch it will be online, craft, art or physical activity based.
#5. ATTENTION SPAN
Did you know the attention span of your child is equivalent to their age? So my daughter who is 5, has a MAXIMUM attention span of 5 minutes (unless of course she is watching the television ;p). This is really important to note, as this will impact on how long you should be spending explaining something. Keep things as short and simple as you can. You may need to break things down into steps.
#6. DON’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE
Don’t be afraid to change things up if they are not working. Google will be your friend during this time no doubt as you research different ways to teach certain concepts. You may also need to experiment with your daily routine until you are all comfortable with it. Also don’t be afraid to contact your child’s classroom teacher for tips and tricks to help teach your child.
#7. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TEACH EVERYDAY
You will no doubt need a break as much as your children will. Feel free to take days off from the routine to aide the sanity of all!
#8. USE PLAY
Play is a powerful tool for engaging children and teaching concepts without formally doing so. A great addition to your afternoon perhaps, to continue teaching covertly 😉
This may sound like a given but make sure you schedule in time to breathe and have some space to yourself.
#10. HAVE FUN
This is always our motto here at Ridgy Didge. At the end of the day, if you and your child are having fun, the learning will follow. If an activity is not engaging you or your child, you have permission to think outside the square and make it more engaging for yourself and your child. Rather than writing your sight words out on a piece of paper, take a piece of chalk and write it on your driveway! If the sums on your sheet are driving you bonkers, head out to the sand pit and write the equations and answers in the sand! If your child is struggling with their reading, make a ‘microphone’ out of alfoil so they can speak into that as they read! There really are so many ways you can add fun to ‘dull’ activities.
So with all this in mind… To help you further I have laid out a possible homeschooling plan you can follow to get you started. And remember, you can take this and tweak it to suit your own individual needs.
The template for the plan can be found in our Free Resource Library and is editable for you to use to schedule out your homeschooling day. Below you can see how I have used it to plan out my homeschooling days with my daughter. I’ve added notes in there for you to consider and justify my reasoning for my schedule choices. Mould your schedule around these tips and your child’s needs.
Remember: Despite the world circumstances that are happening around us, you are being offered a really wonderful opportunity to connect with your child. We are wanting to support you in your transition to this new role in your household as educator. This is the first of four blog posts helping you make the transition with ease and reducing the overwhelm.
Let’s help one another make the most of it! Add your thoughts below in the comments of any other tips and tricks you may have to share with new homeschooling parents.
Keep an eye out for blogpost #2 coming tomorrow: Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach.
Keep your chin up parents! Us teachers have your back 🙂