I homeschool my two children and just sent my oldest to a project-based high school. I never wanted to homeschool, nor thought I would. However, I found myself in that position. Here are a few things I have learned along the way that may help others who are suddenly educating their children while at home.
Use this time to build up the child’s foundations. If your child hasn’t mastered his/her math facts, try learning the facts with video games like Reflexmath.com. If there is an area that they didn’t grasp in math, go back and let them learn it before they have to move on. Do you have a reluctant reader? Help him. Remember, children learn to love reading in the laps of their parents. So foster a love of reading by reading together. Quick tip: choose a book on grade-level for your child and track the words as you read, so your child sees them and hears them. Then, work up to you reading one page and having them read the next. Tell him any word that frustrates him immediately and move on. It works! For one entire year I only worked on math facts and read alouds/alongs with a frustrated learner. That child is now thriving and ahead of her grade level.
Project-based learning. Pick a topic and have your child dig deep. Even better, find a topic they are interested in. Dig deep in history. Pick their favorite time period then watch documentaries about it, make meals that the people of that time period would have eaten, sing songs they would have sung, basically immerse yourself in that time. If your child likes Disney princesses, read the original fairytales and search for different versions from around the globe! Let him play with Legos and create. Read The History of the US or listen to The Story of the World CDs. Paint, draw, color. Artforkidshub.com is a great drawing website. Listen to classical music and learn about the composer. If you are a parent who needs to work, then challenge your child to do this and share with you after work. Who knows, he may even find a new passion during his discoveries. Look up science experiments and do one a week. Make different types of paper airplanes and discover how the drag and lift are affected. There are unlimited project-based learning ideas to save the day! And it’s so much FUN!!!
Here’s another project-based learning idea: DINNER! Make meals together. Take the time to show your children how to do things in the kitchen. In normal times, we have so little time to show our kids how to cook. Now you have some extra time! This is also an opportunity to start building their skills so they can be self-sufficient, and even become a huge help once normalcy returns.
Chores. Yeah, I know. Kids hate chores. But kids also need to learn that they can contribute to the family. And work gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. The chores don’t have to be too onerous, but children can clean up after themselves. Clean their rooms. Take out the trash. Pull some weeds. Clean up the kitchen. Instead of threatening punishment for failure to do chores, offer rewards (video games, movies, whatever appeals to them) that they get after they complete the chores. They will undoubtedly push back on the idea of doing work. It’s just human nature. We resist work, but also find satisfaction in it. That in itself is a good lesson to learn in this crazy time.
Lastly, kids may forget some of what they learn this year anyway. But they won’t forget the meals you cook together, the skill you teach them, like playing a musical instrument, gardening, painting or crocheting, the time you played with them and laughed, the story you told them about when you grew up, the spontaneous dance parties, or the love you showed them when they were frightened. They won’t forget how you made them feel. So, don’t worry; do the best you can; and just love them well. The rest will take care of itself.
These are trying times, but the silver lining is that we must slow down. This time is a precious gift. May we use it wisely!
Enrollment in the Distance Education Program for the remainder of this school year (ending July 9). We have reopened enrollment at this time as a temporary service to families in need and will consider potential partnerships with all parents who meet our partnership criteria and whose children can learn successfully in a distance education space. Click here for more information. All application criteria and tuition details apply.