Millions of children across the country are now being educated at home. For most parents, it's their first experience homeschooling children. I homeschooled my four children for many years and have asked my oldest child to share some thoughts on what she thinks worked and what didn't based on her experience.
Your kids do not need to do school work for 8 hours a day. In a normal school setting, they have breaks between classes, lunch, gym or recess, and lots of time is wasted. If you can get your child to do 3-4 hours of concentrated “school” time a day, congratulations! If your child has special needs, it can be even more challenging to get the hang of homeschooling. Being patient with yourself and your child is key when approaching this challenge. We've found a few helpful online resources for children with special needs who are learning at home.
For all children, routines are essential in uncertain times like these. Routines are comforting, good for development, and they foster productivity. Your child's normal routine has been thrown for a loop but you can help them feel secure and productive by creating your own family routine. Wake up early, front load the day with structured activity, and then spend the afternoon having fun.
Worksheets, workbooks and flashcards are boring. Find alternative ways to support your child's learning and let them run with the things that interest them. Does your kid love science? Let them watch an hour of Myth Busters videos on YouTube instead of doing a science worksheet.
Use cooking and baking to learn fractions and measurements. Gardening is a great way to learn science. These everyday, household activities provide educational opportunities that are engaging and fun. This leads me right to another important: don't let your kids eat sugar all day but also don't be militant. Some semblance of a balanced diet will help his or her mood and mind but everyone needs a little chocolate.
Play audio books in the background of all activities. Your children will be listening and be engaged without even realizing it. With your kids home 24/7 the amount of housework is probably endless. Have your kids fold laundry, unload the dishwasher or sweep while listening to an audio book.
Get a pet. I cannot emphasize this enough. Pets are wonderful for children. They teach responsibility, accountability and empathy. Your child can read to your pet and can be comforted by a pet in ways that are so positive. Caring for another living creature is a great way to teach your child age-appropriate accountability that allows them to think about something other than themselves. There's a reason pets are so commonly used now to help with anxiety and depression, because they really do work miracles.
This homeschooling thing is hard and there isn't a 10-step rulebook or an effective one-size fits all approach. Switch it up and be creative; parenting and schooling look different for everyone.