What happens when your school moves outside the traditional four walls? Fun, creative and loads of learning can happen with a bit of planning. Welcome to schooling at home. I know this is sudden and not what you planed for, but you can do this. And I’m here to help.
My two big pieces of advice are to lower your expectations and don’t attempt to re-create school at home.
The closure is new and unexpected for your children, too. They’re off routine and scary news and events are happening and changing quickly. Take time to check in and talk to them about Coronavirus if you haven’t yet.
Click HERE a quick article from National Geographic Kids that breaks it down for little ones.
Make school your own when it happens within your walls. If your child wants to sit on the couch while you read a book or complete a worksheet on the floor- go for it. Anticipate lots of interruptions and an adjustment period while you settle into this “schedule.” Let the old “school routine” go. Take a deep breathe and know you can do this.
What Do I Do With These Kids All Day?
Here’s the best part of homeschooling- It doesn’t take all day. Some days I finish lessons with my first grader in 2-3 hours if he’s focused. It takes more time with my fourth grader, but we still take much less time than a traditional school day.
Remember when you’re teaching and learning on a 1-on-1 basis, you cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. Don’t worry that the learning isn’t happening if you’re moving through materials quickly.
The remainder of the day can be spent enjoying their free time. (Don’t feel like you’re not “doing it right” because your children have the afternoon free.) We limit electronic time in our house, so once that time is up they move onto other activities. They play Legos, board games, ride bikes, make up games, read and whatever else they think of together.
My 10-year old frequently asks to bake. I count that as school, too, since we’re following directions, measuring ingredients, learning how/why things rise in the oven. It surprised me how inventive my children became when we began limiting electronics!
*I do give additional electronic time if they’re using an online learning app for a lesson.
But How Do I Teach Them?
You don’t need to cover every subject every day. The only exception would be math. My children retain the concepts better if we practice math daily. Aim to cover topics 2-3 times a week.
Find out what your child was learning in school and continue using one of the resources below. (Yes, it’ll be different than the school curriculum, but it’s still progress.) Or ask your child what they’re interested in learning and find resources from my list.
(I’m under the impression many of you are taking an “extended Spring Break” which makes me think the school isn’t expecting you to teach your child and they’ll cover all requirements to meet their year-end goals. I would *highly* suggest following your child’s interests using a Lazy Unit Study, which I’ll explain in another post.)
Make school your own! Sit at the kitchen table, make a blanket fort or move the learning outside. Teach a short lesson from a book, video or wherever you found the content. But keep it brief. I learned the hard way that lessons shouldn’t be longer than 20-30 minutes for my first grader, while my fourth grader can hang on for 45 min. to an hour. After that they’ve lost their focus and new information will not be retained.
Sometimes new lessons end up being split into two parts or take longer to cover than anticipated. It’s okay. That happens.
I’m Overwhelmed. What Do I Do?
When I started unexpectedly homeschooling a few years ago, I was overwhelmed, too. I’ve learned two EASY tips that helped save my sanity.
1. Read Aloud to your Children
I can’t emphasize enough reading aloud to your children. I don’t care if you have kindergartners or high schoolers. Everyone loves a good read aloud book. It’s a great way to spark conversation and an easy way to start the school day or calm the chaos when things are out of control.
My kids like to draw, play with Legos or clay while I read aloud (or turn on an online book for them to listen to.) We read (or listen) a few chapters or read a short book and I follow up by asking my children questions to check reading comprehension. My 10 year old will write a brief summary of the chapters in the notebook. (This is called written narration. If you want to learn more check out Modern Miss Mason on FB or IG. Find it under Narration.)
Check my resource list to find books appropriate for every grade or visit Bravewriter for handy-dandy guides that go along with popular books. (Read: She has the lessons laid out for you to follow.)
2. Utilize your library!
The library is priceless to every community, but especially homeschoolers. Even with many shuttering their doors, the amount of information available online is astounding.
Grab those reading lists from the resource page and check out audiobooks or e-books. Or run in before the libraries close to snag real books.
Many libraries have eResources for books, movies, research and more. MidPointe offers an online Research Database. Perfect for digging deep into topics and much more reliable than Wikipedia.
They have online streaming for educational movies and videos, too.
If you’re new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, there’s always room for improvement. Be kind to yourself as you wade through this new territory and have grace with your children. Together you can make the next few weeks memorable.
Below is a list free resources. This is by no means a cumulative list, but it’s a great start to those suddenly homeschooling. I”ll add to the list as I am notified or discover more resources.
Dream box- free 90 day trial
Can you scan or recreate old worksheets they brought home from school? Google whatever concept they’re covering
Prodigy Math – free
Reading Eggs (free 14 day trial)
Epic app (free 30 day trial)
Read Aloud Revival (Over 20 different book lists for various topics and ages)
Bravewriter (the website is offering 100 free writing prompts, but also has packets for various grammar, reading comprehension, conversation starters, copywork and more for LOADS of books of ALL ages
Mystery Science (Free year-long subscription)
Steve Spangler Science
Pandia Press- secular, free lesson HERE
Pandia Press (free lesson in link HERE)
SPANS MULTIPLE TOPICS
All in One Curriculum. (I use some of their videos in my middle school writing and grammar class.)
Online streaming service with hundreds of educational videos
Easy Peasy Homeschool
Free, all in one curriculum
My Little Poppies
*lazy unit study* (Working on a post for this. It’s my favorite!)
Do I need to explain the value of these websites?
Accounts to Follow
STEAM Kids: Fun, Hands-On Learning Activities for Kids
STEAM Powered Family
Modern Miss Mason
My Little Poppies
Wild and Free
Click HERE for a lengthy list on History, Science, and more!