I thought I would use this platform to spread some of my thoughts surrounding homeschooling. It’s a hot topic that parents are having to deal with, and there is a whole spectrum of thoughts and emotions surrounding school at home. I have been reading facebook posts, social media comments, and looking at photos of how people are coping and dealing with this new reality, and it’s complicated, so complicated.
First, I want to share that I am both a teacher and a parent of two teenagers. But, on both fronts, my perspective is the same. Before anything, the mental health of you and your family is what is most important!
First thing is first – you and your kids are going to have different comfort zones than someone else’s kids. You have to do what works for you. There are families that are faithfully following a colour coded homeschooling schedule, and work through their day by following that schedule. If that works for you, great, go for it! But for the families that don’t strive on structure, that’s ok too. If you have 5 hours of conference calls in a day and three kids, following an hourly schedule is going to be tough. So, once again, you need to do what is going to get you and your kids through the day. The worst thing you can do is start beating yourself up because you are seeing all of these fantastic things other people are doing to homeschool, and feel crappy because right now, your main goal for the day is to keep the kids from banging on the door while you make it through the conference call. If that’s what your goal is for the day, let’s start there.
I’m not going to lie, teachers are not feeling great right now. There are A LOT of unknowns, so please be easy on us too. We didn’t take a course in teacher’s college about teaching during a worldwide pandemic. This is new and scary for us too. This is scary for everyone. Things are changing for teachers on a daily basis, we are sifting through numerous board emails, virtual staff meetings and trying to wade our way through the enormous amount of information and resources that are being thrown our way right now. So, more structured work, linked to curriculum expectations is coming, we are working on it parents, I promise. Your child’s teacher should have reached out to you by now, and they are working hard to put together a learning program for your child. So please be patient, we are trying. In the meantime, let’s put together our resources together, communicate and get this done. Let’s figure out how to teach our kids so that somehow at the end of this, they learn something.
So, how do you teach at home? Great question! Let me start by saying I don’t know. Seriously. I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years, and once again, this is a new thing, we have never done this before. I can’t answer that question, but what I would like to do is share some activities you can do with your family that go beyond worksheets. There is so much learning that can happen through games, oral discussions, and hands on activities. I truly believe that if you spend time with your kids, talk to them, ask them to make observations, ask questions, play games, get them to help cook, etc. That is just what they need! You can integrate math and language into most daily tasks, and activities.
So… the activities I will be sharing will not be worksheets, or assignments, but games, and challenges that I have made for my students and families at my school. That being said, if your family is enjoying the structure of pencil and paper tasks, and printing worksheets is working for you, go for it, you are doing great! If you want to have your child write a journal each day about the challenges, or write a procedure for everything they built, fantastic. But, if not, that’s ok too.
For every task or challenge, I have tried to include family notes. These notes include ways you can adjust the activity for older or younger kids, and the purpose of the activity. What skill, concept, or expectation is the challenge addressing.
Please feel free to ask questions, share with others, and take photos or share what activities worked well for you. I will be trying to share ideas weekly. Hope you enjoy. Don’t forget that we are all doing our best, we are all struggling, and we all need to be easy on ourselves. You are doing a great job, keep telling yourself that.
Here are the activities and challenges I put together for this week.
Monday – Race to 1000 game
Tuesday – Indoor Scavenger Hunts
Wednesday – Lego Challenges
Thursday – Math target Games
Friday – Brain Training