Homeschooling can be a challenge even when for families who choose that educational path. However, many parents have been simply thrown into the challenges of supporting their children’s learning at home with continuous on again off again pandemic schooling. With the stark reality of learning stagnation and endless hours spent in front of the computer screen, students need their parents’ involvement and active support in their schooling more than ever. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I hope that students can soon hope for normalcy in their schooling again and that families will no longer have to choose between ‘putting food on the table or helping the kids’ as one mother lamented.
In the meantime, I created a Homeschooling Toolbox that might help non-homeschooling families make it through the day:
Establish daily routines – Research on this shows that stress is better managed when life is structured and routinized.
Create a schedule for your day — but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stick to it:
- Have a regular get-up time. Do not sleep in and lounge around in sleepwear on weekdays.
- Eat breakfast together.
- Start the day with a 15-30 min walk outside. Seeing things outside your four walls will help to prepare the brain for learning. If you cannot start the day with a walk, take it mid-morning or before lunch. Sitting in the house all day can be a real downer, and a walk never fails to lift the mood.
- Have a set learning time each day.
- Eat lunch together.
- Take a regular 1- hour downtime in the afternoon where children do quiet reading, drawing, or listening to audiobooks. No screen time during this downtime.
- Involve children in at least one hands-on task once a day. This can be snow shoveling, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, folding laundry, cleaning a bathroom, etc. Having a responsibility, fulfilling it, and seeing concrete results builds self-sufficiency and surprisingly also satisfaction (well, not always:). Contributing to the household and having a role also shows children that they are valued and a needed support in the family.
- Give older children the opportunity to prepare a meal at least once a week. They can research a recipe, make a grocery list, help pick items at the store, prepare the meal, set the table, and clean up. It provides a lot of perspective in how much work actually goes into a mealtime. Younger children can participate in this as well. My 9-year old spent a whole week setting up an exquisite table for each mealtime with plates, folded serviettes, properly laid cutlery. This gives a small highlight to the days that otherwise can seem to just flow into each other.
- End any screen time by 8 p.m. Brains are kept active by blue light and it can be difficult to settle and have a restful sleep.
- We choose to have film time only on Friday and Saturday evening. This allows more structure to the week rather than a continuous ‘entertainment stream’ and gives this kids a highlight for the weekend evenings.
Not all of these suggestions may fit with your family or your schedule – but give some of them a try:)
What if I also work from home?
“Take the to-do list you had for today and cut it in half, then cut it in half again.”
If both parents work while the children learn from home, arranging two-hour work shifts can be helpful. This allows one parent to focus on work, while the other can assist in learning tasks and occupy younger children if necessary. This could also be a good time to step out for your daily walk and outdoor playtime.
If there is only one parent available, make sure your children know what to do while you are occupied, preferably something they enjoy or look forward to. Having a timer set for uninterrupted work time can be useful to give children a clear idea for when you will be available again.
Be generous with yourself – remember that it will not be possible to work at ‘full capacity’.
Helping your student with academics
For students in elementary and middle school, having strong reading and math skills is crucial to all other learning. If a student can read well, subjects like science, history, geography, etc. will benefit also. If a can student perform math calculations smoothly, this mastery can offer support for subjects requiring systematic and critical thinking or logic.
Thus, as a parent I would suggest focusing your efforts on reading and math.
Below you will find some suggestions for reading resources as well as math help. For students who crave some extra-curricular classes outschool.com offers an endless variety.
Elementary (Gr 1-4)
Right Start Math Games Help your child develop mastery of number sense, addition, subtraction, place value, multiplication, and more. Over 300 card games!
Check out ‘Teaching Math’ for additional resource ideas.
Read Aloud Revival Book Lists – These are incredibly extensive lists that encourage reading together and falling in love with books:) These lists include some classics but also contemporary book choices.
Story Time From Space, 6- to 10-year-olds: Astronauts read books aloud while the text and images from the book are displayed on the screen. Free.
Art for Kids Hub Father of four has created an immense collection of art instruction. All are east step-by-step. His kids even draw alongside, so you can see real results. Includes drawing lessons for kids,as well as painting and origami for kids. Free.
Middle School (Gr 5-8)
Right Start Math Games – Use these to develop mastery in multiplication, division, fractions, and more. Over 300 card games!
Khan Academy This is one of the most comprehensive free learning sites around. Excellent for filling in any learning gaps! Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted practice and lessons covers math, science, and more. Always free for learners and teacher
Check out ‘Teaching Math’ for additional resource ideas.
Outschool – Over 140’000 interactive online classes from Architecture with Minecraft, Ukulele, Essay Writing, Spanish, to Electrical Circuits and Stock Market Investing. Cost starts at $12 per class.
High School (Gr 9-12)
Khan Academy This is one of the most comprehensive free learning sites around. Excellent for filling in any learning gaps! Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted practice and lessons covers math, science, and more. Always free for learners and teachers.
Self-Directed Search If your student feels aimless and is unsure of what occupational or academic path to pursue, SDS is a great tool to provide guidance.The next generation of John Holland’s Self-Directed Search® (SDS®) is a career assessment and exploration tool that matches your aspirations, activities, and talents to the career choices and educational opportunities that fit you best. Cost $15.
Chemistry Card Games Kit – NEW! This kit has 130 chemistry games covering unit conversations, periodic table, ionic compounds, density, and concentrations. These games will support anyone learning about basic chemistry, from the middle-school student to the college student who are wanting to learn and practice their chemistry skills.