As the world continues trying to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are now working from home while also taking on the responsibility of homeschooling their children. School closures have occurred nationwide and many are unsure when their doors will open again. This means many of us parents are having to juggle work duties, household chores, meal planning and prep, and now, homeschooling.
Some days, homework alone can feel like too much with everything else going on in our typical everyday lives, but now parents are faced with the task of taking up temporary teaching roles. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional to help educate your children during this unusual time, all you really need are the right techniques and plenty of patience.
Here are some tips to get you started (before you go insane).
All About The Atmosphere
By now you’re probably familiar with what you need while working from home. Perhaps you upgraded that wobbly office desk or invested in a comfortable, supportive computer chair. Just like us, kids need to have the right environment and equipment to help get them into the learning mindset. It can be hard to concentrate on learning math formulas or writing an essay when the temptation of the iPad or toys are in sight.
Considering that it will most likely be a bit before our daily routines return back to normal, it’s definitely worth creating a space just for school with the appropriate pieces (that can also always be used after the pandemic). Some important homeschool classroom furniture to have if you don’t already are basics like:
- A sturdy desk and chairs for lessons
- Bookcases and cabinets for storage
- Craft bins, cubbies, and chests
You might have some of these hidden in storage but if not there are plenty of affordable, reliable options to pick from. You can shop online at a local establishment and do same-day curbside pickup or have items shipped straight to you, making it pretty convenient and fast no matter how many Zoom meetings you have. Just make sure any new furnishing you purchase gets a good disinfecting.
If you have room to spare, it’d be a good idea to move “class” away from the kitchen table or living room. It’s been shown that remote workers benefit greatly from having a designated office space in order to fully unplug from work each day and vice versa. The same can be said for kids while homeschooling. Our brains often associate a particular activity, mood, and mindset with our environment. When that environment, such as school, is a regular part of our routine, our brain will fire off the appropriate response to help us accomplish what we need to, rather than thinking about taking a nap or what’s on TV.
Whether it’s a spare room or simply a designated area, creating a school-like atmosphere away from their home life will help set both you and your children up for success. Furthermore, good lighting and comfortable indoor temperatures are also important factors that aid in productivity, so make sure those things are taken care of as well. If you can put together the right setting, your kids will have an easier time focusing and staying on task, which in turn will make your job as a temporary teacher less difficult.
Learning Made Easy Through New Technology
While technology can certainly be a distraction for kids these days, when it comes to homeschooling, it might just be your saving grace. Teachers today utilize a lot of technology in their classrooms so why shouldn’t you do the same? According to Western Governors University, “It’s important to use tech as part of [students’] learning to help them better understand concepts, and prepare them for the requirements of technology in their futures. Classrooms that utilize technology often see a changing dynamic where students are more engaged and enthusiastic about learning.” Getting kids to positively interact with their lessons while being homeschooled can be particularly tricky. However, when you can incorporate some technology elements they might feel more inclined to stay focused.
Of course, you might be wondering what this kind of educational technology might look like? It can be as simple as using an app such as Class Dojo or Kahoot which makes it easy to set up multiple-choice style games and quizzes. There is also a fountain of knowledge just waiting to be explored on platforms such as YouTube. Kids can listen to a “guest speaker” talk about a topic related to what they’re currently learning or watch a Bill Nye the Science Guy episode. While technology shouldn’t necessarily replace a whole day’s lesson, using it in conjunction with other material can switch up their daily tasks and help them from feeling totally bored. It will also keep them occupied while you try to finish the other million tasks currently on your plate.
It’s Not All Work and No Play
School days aren’t exclusively spent learning inside the classroom. School is also a time for socializing and enjoying time outside during recess. While you can’t set up your backyard with their favorite jungle gym from school or have their BFF over, you can mimic some of those crucial interactions and activities. Try scheduling some virtual recess time with fellow parents and let both of your kids take a break from their work to get some much needed socializing time.
The Pomodoro Technique might also be the perfect trick for your kids. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pomodoro method, the idea behind it is fairly simple. Pick a task to work on, set a timer for 25 minutes (traditionally a Pomodoro tomato timer) and when the timer goes off, take a short break. For every four tasks, take a longer break, around 30 minutes. Encourage your kids to take their breaks outside, to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunlight. They could even shoot a few hoops or draw some quick chalk art. If you have older kids who no longer really take a recess, still let them take a quick walk around the block to stretch their legs or head to their bedroom and jam out to a few short songs. Whatever is just ensure there are plenty of breaks, especially outside if possible.
At the end of the day, homeschooling can sometimes feel overwhelming and frustrating, for both you and your children. Luckily, it doesn’t have to always be quite so difficult. With the right technique, activities, and routine, it will make this strange time in our lives as easy as possible — and you can help ensure that you and your family come out on the other side (mostly) unscathed.
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