It’s real now. Those first few weeks have passed, spring break is happening, and then…. well, we’re home for the rest of the school year. Everyone is settling into their new reality and, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if life will ever be the same again. With all this going on, we still have to figure out how to do the day-to-day. It’s overwhelming, even for adults who supposedly have good coping skills. But what about our kids? We are asking them to handle big concepts and big emotions with a much smaller toolkit. How can we help them get through this confusing and scary time? One thing we can do is establishing a routine. If nothing else, it puts some normalcy in our crazy situation. It provides consistent structure and expectations for everyone involved.
There are a ton of successful homeschool parents who already know how to structure home education. They are a great resource in helping the rest of us figure this out. Now, for all you homeschool parents out there… I know. I know what the rest of us are doing here isn’t the same as what you do. But it is the closest most of us are going to get.
So how do homeschool parents do it? What is their trick? One part of it is, you guessed it, structure. While it may not be our traditional view of classroom structure (homeroom, 1st period, 2nd period, etc.), as the Unexpected Parent-Teacher it is up to you to determine what this means to your family. Well, you and your children.
How to Start: As a family discuss what needs to get done during the day. What do your kiddos need to do? What are they used to doing? What do they WANT to do? What do YOU need/want to do? Don’t forget non-academic activities like snack, lunch, recess. Kids, and parents, need to get the wiggles out multiple times a day, both physically and mentally. Keep in mind that if your kiddos want to include a task you don’t think is necessary, like unpacking their back pack every morning, let them do it. What can it hurt? And it gives them ownership into the process.
What to do next: As a family, put together your schedule. Are your children more comfortable mimicking the traditional school schedule? Or do you want to do things a little different, like focus on different subjects on different days? Think outside the box. Here’s your chance to do something different. Because no one knows what to expect right now, the traditional rules don’t have to apply.
Then, review what you’ve created. How does it look? Are you expecting too much? Do you think it can work? If you’re not sure (let’s face it, most of us are flying blind here) are you willing to take a chance to test it out? It’s okay if your first pass at a schedule doesn’t work. Or your second, or your third… Think of it as a scientific experiment for the entire family. Formulate your hypothesis, test it, and then make changes. It can be an evolving process AND successful at the same time. And remember, even a great schedule needs some flexibility, for everyone’s sake!
Expand it: How can you bring in other content areas?
Honestly, most schools will provide you the curriculum. The key here is not to expect to do too much every day. A homeschool friend of mine gave me some GREAT advice… 2 hours. That’s how much total instruction time you should shoot for each day. I know it may not seem right, but it is a great place to start. You’ll be amazed at what you get done.
STEAM Resources: I’m not going to include my typical STEAM resource list here. Instead I’m providing information on schooling at home and support for understanding and coping with the current crisis. I hope they help.
- Support for handling the confusion, stress and anxiety of our current situation:
- Advice from the National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19?ck_subscriber_id=342989428%c2%a0
- Resources from the Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/
- Support for teaching at home:
- What is outschooling?: https://outschool.com/2020-school-closures-offer#abk7tph4p8
- Advice from homeschoolers: https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2020/03/how_to_home_school_your_kids_during_the_coronavirus_pandemic_advice_from_homeschoolers.html
- Information from Edutopia on Project Base Learning (PBL): https://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-parent-resources
- What is scrum and how can I use it to teach my kids?: https://www.pblworks.org/blog/why-i-scrum-using-project-management-tool-pbl