Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach!

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach!

Okay, so now that you have a plan in place for your day, I bet you are asking yourself the question, ‘What on earth do I need to teach my child?’

This virus has certainly forced us all into roles we weren’t expecting, as educators to our children, but there are some very clear and simple guidelines you can follow to ensure you child is progressing and you are teaching them what they need to know.

From the very start I will tell you there is a very easy way of finding out what you need to teach to meet the requirements of the Australian Curriculum. They are found here on the Australian Curriculum website. But if you aren’t a teacher, all this information can be a little bit overwhelming. So let me simplify it for you and make it manageable for a homeschooling context.

If nothing else in your homeschooling day you need to make sure you are covering the following subject areas:

These three curriculum areas are the pillars on which you can then base everything else. But what does Maths, Reading and Writing look like in your home context?

That really is totally up to you. Remember this is your classroom. How you teach is up to you but here is a helpful diagram explaining what these three pillars actually entail:

There are definitely more types of writing and reading strategies and maths topics but these are the very basics. It causes you to kind of wonder how on earth your child’s teacher actually gets all that done in a year doesn’t it?!

Well let me let you in on a secret!

The key to pulling all of this together and making the learning experience enjoyable for your child, is to use overarching topics/themes to teach these three pillars.

For example you may be doing an under the water theme. To start with you might do some READING to research the topic. You may then do some WRITING to record what you have found. You may then do some science experiments which involve measuring and recording data so this brings in your MATHS. You may draw some pictures of under the sea creatures and paint them. You can then WRITE some sentences describing what is happening in the picture. You then might like to do some more READING to find out more about the topic or simply READ some picture books relating to the topic. You may print off some whale pictures and write numbers on them that are relevant to your child’s age, have them put them in order, have them write them down using words and numerals and other ways of representing to draw in a bit more MATHS.

Can you see how one topic can cover so many areas of the three pillars?! It really is magic! And by teaching this way you are making the content engaging and fun for your child/ren.

The Australian Curriculum is very specific about the topics that need to be covered in every year level. So to save you time sorting through the curriculum website, I have simplified it for you in our Homeschooling Curriculum Overview document. Available now, in our Free Resource Library.

Have a read and let me know what you think by commenting below. Was this helpful for you? Is there something I’ve missed? I want this to be helpful for you so please let me know if there is anything I can add to it.

And while you wait for the third and final blog post in this series focusing on the resources you can use to teach the Australian Curriculum content in your home, have a go at integrating the three pillars into some of the topics outlined in our Homeschool Curriculum Overview. I hope you find it as fun as I do!

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 1: Planning your Day

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:
– reading
– 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 ;)

#9. BREATHE
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 :)