Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home policies that many schools have since implemented, many parents face the predicament of working and managing their children’s education at home. If you’ve decided to homeschool your children to keep them safe during the pandemic or you’ve just realized the benefits of such a setup, read on for some tips on how you can get the most out of this experience:
1. Turn To Experts
Some people can naturally deal with kids, but many don’t have the skills and the patience to teach them and answer their questions. If you’re one of those who are confused about homeschooling and have no idea where to start, don’t be afraid to seek help.
You can rely on experts because they know the ins and outs of at-home learning. Surf the internet to find online resources that will help you make homeschooling a happy and productive experience for you and your kids.
If you have money to spare, you can also think about homeschool tutoring services. You don’t have to subscribe to them for the whole year if you want to cut on expenses. Instead, you can hire a tutor at the start of the homeschooling process just to make things easier for you. Then, you can do everything on your own for the remainder of the school year once you feel confident enough to tutor your kids.
2. Find A Homeschooling Space
Assign a place in your house you can consider the ‘classroom.’ The perfect area would be quiet, comfortable, and conducive to learning. It should have ample lighting, and the internet connection there is strong and uninterrupted. It would also be advisable to set up the home classroom where there are no distractions. Your child must view that corner or space as a place for studying and learning, so you must set it up the right way.
Apart from adequate space, here is a checklist of things you need for your at-home learning setup:
- A table big enough for a computer and space to write, read a book, and do other learning activities
- A comfortable and sturdy chair
- A storage bin for school supplies such as paper, pens, and art materials
- A wastebasket
- A filing cabinet to store lesson plans, test papers, and essential school documents
- Area to store books, notebooks, workbooks, and similar items
If you have multiple kids, it’s ideal for them to each have their own area in the home classroom. But if that’s not possible, you can use your kitchen table to make sure they have their own seats during homeschooling hours.
3. Set Up An At-Home Learning Schedule
A schedule helps remind your kids what activities to accomplish for the day. You want to make a visual schedule you can post on your wall. There are many homeschooling schedules or planner resources you can find online. Just make sure that the planners you make or buy are fun and motivating.
It would be hard at first to encourage your young children to stick to the schedule, mainly because they consider the house a place for play and rest. What’s more, there are many distractions to contend with, including pets, neighbors, and the beckoning call of the TV or bed.
Incorporate lunch, recess, break times, playtimes, and other activities that kids find enjoyable and something they can look forward to after a subject or a class. You can also make a weekly or monthly schedule with mini field trips for activities providing practical lessons for particular subjects.
For example, you can associate your pet dog’s trip to the vet with zoology or health subjects. That way, you’re hitting two birds with one stone: accomplishing a chore and allowing your kid to learn from experience.
4. Define Your Homeschooling Objectives
After setting up space and a schedule, you can also make the most out of the homeschooling experience by defining your objectives. Those you outline will form the backbone of your kids’ at-home learning experience, so they should be clear. To make it easier for you and your children to achieve the objectives you have set for the year, you can create mini-goals that come with rewards when your little learners accomplish them.
These objectives are not only for the sake of your children. They are also a way for you to monitor your progress as a homeschool coordinator or teacher. Each achievement or a check on your list will give you confidence and assurance that you’re doing your job well.
There’ll be times you or your kid may miss the mark. Don’t worry about it because it’s natural to fail sometimes. Just do your best to achieve your targets, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
5. Consider Joining Local Homeschooling Groups
At-home learning is not an easy task for most parents, especially those who are also working or are single parents. It would be best if you had as much assistance as you can get to make your child’s homeschooling successful.
Join the parent-teacher association of your children’s class or school. If your children aren’t affiliated with any school, you can look for homeschoolers’ groups and clubs in your city, town, or state. Before you know it, you’ll find one that would be willing to help you out when you’re starting. Other parents may share their best practices so you can feel confident about your at-home learning environment. Once you’ve learned the ropes and discovered methods and activities that work for your children, you can reach out and help other parents, too.
6. Include Life Skills In Your At-Home Learning Agenda
Academic skills are essential. Your kid needs to learn math, science, reading, and even history in order to make good choices and achieve their dreams. But aside from those subjects, it would be a fantastic idea to teach your kids practical life skills they’ll need, especially when they’re left on their own.
You can include basic money skills like saving, investing, and budgeting. Some other essential life skills to teach are household chores, mending clothes, growing a vegetable garden, understanding how a car works, and how to prepare for emergencies. Maybe you want to improve your children’s social development or emotional intelligence. You can let them join outreach programs or participate in activities geared at helping other people, animals, or the environment. Of course, make sure that the life skill you decide to teach is appropriate for their age.
7. Learn To Be Flexible
It’s a common tendency for parents to be strict when it comes to schedules and plans. There’s nothing wrong with teaching your children to adhere to programs and projects because it will help instill discipline, which they’ll surely benefit from when they grow older.
However, if you’re dealing with young children, there’s no need to go ballistic every time kids dwell on their lunchtime, playtime, or screen time. Be sensitive to your kids’ feelings. Sometimes, they need to take longer breaks after a difficult lesson or a tiring activity. There are also instances when sitting in front of a computer for hours starts to become stressful. Give your kids some leeway so they can recharge, rest, or have fun.
8. Think About Yourself Too
Many parents find it hard to juggle working from home, homeschooling, and doing household chores. You might have so many things on your plate that you’re nearing your breaking point. If you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, it may be time for you to take a break.
To make the most out of your kids’ at-home learning experience, you need to be at your best self. If you’re stressed and tired, you might grow impatient and cranky with your kids. Without even realizing it, you’re increasing tension in the homeschooling setup, and your children are also feeling your burden. Don’t let stress eat you up. Take a breather. Better yet, make your at-home learning schedule work not just for your kids but also for you.
If you have a daily online huddle scheduled for your work at 9:00 a.m., create an at-home learning schedule that would accommodate the hours that your job requires from you. You can get help from your partner, older kids, or even a hired tutor to give yourself time for online meetings and breaks that you also need to restart, relax, and recharge.
At-home learning has become the norm at the height of the pandemic, and this type of setup won’t go away anytime soon. Many parents find this method of teaching kids a bit challenging. If you think homeschooling your children will be difficult, you can get help and crucial tips from those who’ve been in your situation. You and your kids can make the most of at-home learning if you are the know-how.
By Candy Newton
Bio: Candy Newton is a home school tutor. She has been helping students adapt to the home learning environment through her online speaking engagements and articles. She is happily married with four children.