Teacher’s Note: How to homeschool during coronavirus

Tips to teaching your children at home from a mother and teacher who has homeschooled for years.

Homeschooling illustration
[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

In the past few weeks, coronavirus has changed people’s lives all over the world. No sooner have many of us had to figure out how to work from home, than we’ve had to work out how to homeschool, as well. 

Schedules and lists of free resources have begun popping up all over social media in response – with the idea that these were what homeschooling must look like. 

After homeschooling my children for six years, I received message after message from overwhelmed friends asking me for tips and advice on how to do it.

These are the lessons I learned from my many years as a homeschool mum. 

1. You set the tone

Parents, I know your world just got flipped upside down, as well, but our children are looking to us for reassurance that they are safe.

If you are stressed, overwhelmed, and in a bad mood, your children will be, too. If you make the effort to be calm, happy, and peaceful, your home will be as well. 

2. Keep a routine

Setting a routine will help you and your kids feel like there is still structure, especially in times like this when it seems like there is none.

But please don’t make the mistake I made in the beginning. A routine is meant to be flexible. So, a schedule with every minute planned out just sets you up for failure. What may take place from 9am to 9:30am today, could just as well happen from 10am to 10:15am tomorrow. 

Don’t get too hung up on a routine either. One day, your kids may want to spend all day exploring nature in your yard (life sciences), or spend the next week building a treehouse (that’s STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Let them discover and love learning.

Keep in mind that your family’s routine will look different to any other family’s and that’s great. Do what works best for yours because no two families are the same. 

3. Don’t try to replicate school at home 

Doing schoolwork at home does not take as long as a full school day. Classrooms have many kids and transition times, lunches, recess, etc, that takes up so much of the day. In the six years I homeschooled, it never took us more than three hours a day to complete a lot of work.

Many teachers are working through ways to deliver instruction online or via packets sent home. If this is not the case for your child’s school, there are tonnes of free activities online. So many, that it is completely overwhelming.

So take a step back and follow the KISS motto (Keep It Simple, Sister) and maybe just try one or two new things and see how your kids react to them. This is a great time to get to know more about how your child learns best.

4. Get outside if you can

Bike rides, hikes, playing in the yard, and letting your kids use their imaginations for long periods of time are so good for them and you! There have been so many studies that prove the benefits of children being outdoors and playing in the dirt.

In my family, our goal is to be outside for at least an hour a day. 

5. Teach them life skills

This is the perfect opportunity to start teaching your kids new life skills.

Because my sons were homeschooled, they learned at a young age how to help out around the house. My 11-year-old has been doing the dishes daily since he was six. My 14-year-old son has been doing the laundry for years. While they are home from school, the boys take it in turns to make lunch or dinner for everyone. My six-year-old daughter helps by setting the table for dinner every night. 

They have also learned how to do things like change the oil in the car, yard work, and basic sewing. 

6. Quiet time

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, everyone needs some quiet time. For my big kids, that means being in their room reading, working on hobbies or playing the guitar (with their headphones on). Younger children can work on crafts or playing alone.

This gives parents time to get some work done without interruption. It’s the secret to keeping your sanity. 

7. Have fun

This is the perfect time to do fun science experiments, craft, cook, and play with your kids. We sometimes forget how much learning takes place just by living life and playing games. With how stressful the world is right now, it’s important to remember to enjoy each other as much as possible.

Source: Al Jazeera