This fall, school closures and online learning forced millions of parents to begin homeschooling.
Now, those who had never considered teaching their kids algebra and Spanish are doing just that. However, work and mounting responsibilities are making it difficult for many parents to continue homeschooling.
Luckily, there are ways to make the entire predicament easier on both you and your kids. From letting your little ones learn on their own to establishing a routine, you can create a quality learning experience for the kids — even if it seems impossible right now. Here are a few homeschooling tips for parents that may help both you and your children succeed.
- Know Your Kid’s Learning Style
Understanding your child’s learning style will help you teach better and allow your kids to retain more information. What does your child remember after engaging in hands-on activities? Would they rather read a book or listen to an audio version? Do they pay attention to educational videos? Test a few different methods and consider how well your lessons stick with the kiddos. Then, you can tailor your teaching style to meet your little one’s needs.
- Gauge Their Independence
As you come to understand your child’s learning style, you’ll also begin to gauge their independence. Maybe your little one is a strong learner and likes to read and complete assignments on their own. On the other hand, if they’re very young or frequently need help staying on task, you may have to supervise their learning more often. Tailor your schedule to fit theirs based on how much assistance they need.
- Establish a Routine
When kids were in school, they had a routine and followed it to the minute. Now, however, there is more flexibility. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be working seven to eight hours every day, especially when there’s no bell, roll-call or walks down a hall. Still, your children can benefit from following some sort of loose routine. Even taking a lunch break at the same time every day can help kids manage their expectations and mentally prepare for the school day.
- Create a Learning Space
At school, your little ones had their own desk, folders, cubbies, and coat hooks. Recreate the classroom at home by dedicating a space for learning. For many families, this may be the kitchen table. Others may turn an office or spare bedroom into a homeschooling space. Regardless, having a specific place for schoolwork and learning will help eliminate distractions and differentiate home and school life.
- Explore Your Child’s Interests
Now is the perfect time to let your child explore subjects that most traditional classrooms don’t. For example, if your little one loves baking or sewing, work a short lesson into their school day. Likewise, if they show interest in outdoor activities like tracking or geology, take a deeper dive into these topics and present hands-on learning opportunities. Doing so will motivate them to keep learning and growing and explore their passions even further as they get older.
- Make Time for Play
Before the pandemic, kids were spending an average of six hours in front of a screen each day. Now, many are spending upwards of 10 hours on computers as they meet with other students, attend classes, and complete homework assignments. All this sitting and staring can take a toll on their mental and physical health, so it’s more important than ever to get outside and play. Go to the park, run around the backyard, and take time for recess. Your kiddos need the brain break.
- Utilize All Your Resources
Many schools, churches, and educators offer free resources for parents who may find homeschooling especially overwhelming. Now, you can find everything from lesson plans to activity workbooks online. Choose a few resources that will meet your little one’s biggest need or help them discover their passion for learning. Then, you can rely on virtual lessons to fill in the gaps.
- Find a Community
Your children may not be able to hang out with their friends in person, but they still deserve a social life. Even if your kids see their peers in online classes, it may be beneficial to enroll them in extracurricular activities. Join a homeschooling group and find piano lessons, online dance classes, and more within your local community. Look for socially distanced in-person programs, too, to encourage them to learn in and out of the home classroom.
Flexibility and Forgiveness
No matter how hard you try to stick to a schedule and encourage your child to do their best, homeschooling will never look like real, in-person school. The learning space will get messy, miscommunications will happen, and every now and then, you’ll completely toss routine out the window. Both you and your little one will share frustration and tears — and that’s completely normal.
Therefore, it’s crucial to adopt a flexible mindset from the very beginning. Knowing that things won’t go according to plan will help you prepare mentally for the challenge of homeschooling. Plus, you’ll quickly learn the power of forgiveness — and how much you and the kiddos need it. After all, no one’s perfect, and everyone deserves a little grace.