Are you a parent suddenly thrust into the role of teacher while homeschooling during the Coronavirus shutdown? It’s not easy, this sudden change of roles from educational advisor and helper for the kids to becoming their primary source of learning.
Of course, they’ll be learning from many sources, many of them online, so a big part of what we’re here to help you with is how to manage screen time (for the whole family, not just the kids) so that it’s used appropriately, both educationally and for entertainment, but doesn’t take over family life completely.
Being online and utilizing responsible amounts of screen time are more critical than ever right now. Parents are working to understand how to manage it for both younger and older children, as well as teens–and themselves.
This is a time to work with your kids, whatever their age, to come together for open and honest dialogues about everything from the latest Coronavirus details to how not being in school is affecting their lives–and yours.
How To Deal With COVID-19 Anxiety For Parents & Kids From Dr. Bob: Helping Parents and Kids Stay Cool and Collected During the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Is Your Kids’ School Helping?
Most schools and teachers are working hard to continue educating kids from home, though those efforts likely depend on the resources available through your children’s school. Some will quickly evolve and lead the effort, others, perhaps through no fault of their own and rather a lack of resources, will not be able to help parents as much.
Here’s some helpful information to help parents gauge the efforts and effectiveness of their kids’ school so that they can work on their own to supplement feeding youthful brains the information and knowledge needed to help them grow and prosper.
- Did the school provide a daily schedule? Daily lessons with learning structure and guidance?
- Is the school using phones, tablets and/or computers to communicate with your kids online?
- Is the schoolwork being assigned enough to fulfill the academic needs of your overachiever?
- Or, does your little dreamer need more time and space to tackle their own areas of interest?
If that last bullet point is true, have your child pick an area of interest (beetles, robots, mosaic, etc.) and get them on a project that may lead them down a whole new life path. At a minimum, it will keep them engaged, entertained and educated. A related idea to consider: How To Create A Homework Space For Your Child!
Did you know that even tried and true homeschoolers don’t try and fill out a six-hour day. For instance, it’s recommended a student in the third to fifth grade range receive instruction for 1-2 hours per day. Studies even suggest that teachers in a normal classroom setting only teach new material for seven minutes per class period, the rest of the time filled with managing all those young personalities and inclinations.
Children’s attention span runs in spurts, so it doesn’t hurt to spread out the more formal learning and fill in the open spots with fun, engaging and slyly educational activities. Take lots of breaks! Pace yourself and the kids: take education seriously, of course, but learning takes many forms and this is your family’s chance to explore, well, knowledge.
Kinda On Your Own? You Can Do This!
If you’re not getting much help from your kids’ educational institutions, that puts more work on you, but know you can handle it and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan every day. It’s more important that kids know you care and you’re there for them and you’re trying than to retain a few extra facts throughout a given day.
Here are some flexible strategies to help your kids keep learning even during this stressful time:
- Get Scheduled: Creating and sticking to a set routine is critical. Work it up with your students, review and revise daily. Don’t overschedule and flexibility is your friend.
- Work Together: Time work and play activities at the same time as your kids so they don’t feel like they’re being ignored, but don’t forget to give each other space, as well.
- Manage Screen Time: A video is fine, a few videos are fine, hours worth of random YouTube videos? Not fine. Find the middle ground!
- Take Breaks: Get outside as much as possible. It’s a game changer for a cooped up family. Sometimes chores can feel like taking a break: doing some laundry or cooking with your child or just one of multiple children can turn into solid bonding time.
- Be Healthy: This can be difficult with schedules so disrupted, but all of this enforced down time also gives parents some extra time to spend learning about nutrition, exercise and sleep. It’s an important time to keep the family’s collective immune system at a high level and sleep is an important part of that.
- You Need To Do You: Take some time to yourself, pieces of enforced downtime for everyone in the family. This will help siblings get a break from each other and will hopefully give you those moments of family you so need and deserve.
Also helpful, developing Homework and Study Habits: Tips for Kids and Teenagers.
Read, Read, Read!
Let’s be honest: reading has taken a hit as screen time has risen to become the de facto method of information intake for kids, and some adults, these days.
How about we take this chance to put some good, old-fashioned books back in kids’ hands? There’s magic in the way a book can transport the reader into far flung corners of the globe and the universe.
Developing reading comprehension is integral to your child’s learning abilities. Sometimes kids just need a jump start, so work together to find a book they’re excited about. The goal is for your child to start reading independently and thereby: learn about storytelling and increase standardized testing scores across the board by developing this skill that’ll be useful throughout your child’s entire life.
If your child isn’t yet ready for independent reading, there’s good and bad news: It’s your job and…it’s your job. Reading to your child engenders a love of reading in them and is an opportunity to teach elemental knowledge and life lessons, plus it’s major bonding time between parent and child.
The World Is Your Oyster: Now Choose An Oyster
The schoolwork offered by your child’s school not engaging your young Einstein? When kids are forced to learn outside of their own interest areas, it can be an academic struggle to say the least.
So, find out what questions your kids have first, about the world, about art or music, bugs, snakes or cute furry things. Let them ask the question and then embrace it (we’d draw the line at slugs, but that’s up to you).
Kids learning what they want to learn, that’s a whole different ball game that ends up with less complaining, less arguments, and more learning. When they are engaged, kids will self-direct and self-motivate, but it’s up to parents to give them that opportunity, then help give them inspiration and a little bit of structure to assist them on their self-wrought learning path.
Besides being a valuable educational experience, engaging on a subject of their own choosing can also boost your child’s self-esteem, offer them a framework for self discipline, and the ability to overcome learning challenges on their own with the attendant satisfaction that comes from becoming knowledgeable on a subject.
By definition, the choice of subject here is up to your child, but feel free to brainstorm with them, come up with a list of questions and topics. You can direct their learning, just don’t try to own it.
Dog Ate Your Lesson Plan? Wing It!
Look, these are all ideas and the goal is to make sure parents realize you’re doing your best and that’s good enough. This section contains ideas for involving the kids in your day-to-day tasks, but the goal here is really just to spend time engaging with your kids. Them knowing how to balance a checkbook? Priceless.
Don’t feel like being an inventive, home-schooling educator today? Maybe just involve your kids in the curriculum of…life. They can:
- Help you pay the bills.
- Learn about the spreadsheets you manage for work (Intro to Excel!).
- Make fresh bread or Grandma’s pie recipe.
- Chores: Wash the car, clean out the garage, yard work.
Times Are Tough Means Time To Grow
Each and every one of us is dealing with anxiety and concern about many different areas of life right now, but educating your kids at home during the Coronavirus-caused school closures of the 2020 school year shouldn’t be one of them.
Yes, members of the family will take turns melting down, including parents. Just make sure to connect with your kids and take a flexible approach to learning. It’s kind of hard to appreciate it right now, but for many families this is a rare and stellar opportunity to truly get to know each other more honestly and deeply.