Parents nation-wide are tackling the challenge of helping their children learn from home. As schools have closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, distance learning is the new normal. But what does distance learning look like? How do you help your children not only manage their schoolwork, but succeed in their learning? While every school has different requirements and every family is different, the following ideas may ease your path a little.
Your Home as a School
So, how do you transform your home into a school? Choosing the best set-up for your child’s homeschool may seem daunting. Putting in the work to optimize your environment is well worth the effort, even if it means getting creative and moving the furniture!
Elements of an excellent homeschool environment include:
- Space: Every student should have adequate table or desk space to spread a book and notebook as well as any electronic device they need for their schoolwork.
- Dedicated Storage: Each student should have a spot for their tools – books, pencils, calculators – so that they can easily access them. You can use shelves or turn a box or storage cube on its side to create a cubbyhole. As a bonus, some kids will enjoy decorating this!
- Lighting: Good lighting helps prevent eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. Natural lighting is ideal, and adequate room lighting is important as well.
- Seating: Encourage your child to choose seating that promotes good posture.
- Lack of Distractions: Distractions such as the TV, radio, and favorite toys should be kept in a room separate from where students are working.
- Routine: Choose a routine and stick to it. Make sure your child knows what to expect. You may choose to start your homeschool day later than regular school, but you should still have a consistent time to start and finish.
- Breaks: It is equally important to establish break times. Remember, young brains need movement to help them process information!
- Schedule: You may want to post a schedule of any live class sessions your child is expected to attend online, especially if these differ from day to day or if you have multiple children. Knowing what will happen and when can lessen anxiety.
- Flexibility: Remember that kids are kids, learning from home is different, and unexpected things happen all the time. This is the perfect time to teach your children how to bounce back from life’s many surprises.
What About Curriculum?
You want your child to learn, but how are you supposed to teach your children something you don’t remember? Your child’s school should be providing some resources, such as video lessons, readings, and live online classes. There’s also nothing wrong with checking out an online curriculum for a quick refresher before you assist your child.
You may also find it helpful to brush up on some independent learning strategies to share with your children. Simple strategies such as underlining key words in questions or instructions, identifying main ideas and important details, and using graphic organizers to show information can help you make sense of the curriculum. Don’t forget to check any rubrics provided to help you understand the teacher’s expectations for assignments.
Assemble resources that your child can check if they get stuck, for example a dictionary, encyclopedia, or online reference sites. Remind your child of ways to check the quality of internet sources!
The Parent-Teacher Tightrope
As you navigate home-based learning, you will be faced with hundreds of choices. Don’t be afraid to make the choice that is right for you and your family. Sometimes you might choose to teach a topic using a different resource, or even to abandon an assignment altogether. Academic learning is important, but the mental and emotional health of your child and family is even more important. If getting ideas from other people helps you, do it, but don’t compare your family with theirs. Give your best and encourage your child to do the same. Also, find out the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher about concerns and questions you might have.
Let the Schooling Begin
Distance learning may be a new adventure for you. With a plan in place, you will be ready to take on the challenge and support your learners as they continue their school year at home. If something doesn’t work, change it. Don’t be afraid to look for additional educational resources from a variety of sources online.
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