Tips and Tricks on Homeschooling Your Children
Homeschooling is a hard job, plain and simple. But homeschooling during a pandemic? That’s like being asked to run an entire marathon every single day. Now is an incredibly trying time for students, teachers, and parents alike. Everyone is trying to make the best of the available technology, but the daily video meetings can be taxing on children of all ages, and simply can’t make up completely for in-person learning. Because of this, parents everywhere have had to step in as makeshift teachers. As a tutor who has been working one-on-one with students for years, I’m here to offer some helpful tips for homeschooling your children.
First thing’s first: be sure to check in with your child’s teacher to get a sense of where they’re at in the curriculum. You want your homeschooling time to complement this curriculum, to support and build upon the skills your child already has and feels comfortable with. In a time when the world feels foreign, throwing many new concepts at a child could (understandably) cause them to shut down. Whereas if you teach and expand concepts your children already know, their knowledge will be affirmed and their confidence, increased. Keeping student confidence high will keep your learning sessions stable.
How to handle homeschooling structure
The next thing to consider is structure. Think about what kind of learning schedule is attainable within your household, and be realistic. Schools have been handling the pandemic differently—some have full days of online classes, whereas others have short meetings twice a day. If your child spends minimal time in online school, then you should spend more time in homeschool than you would if they spent all day sitting at the computer, and vice versa. The key to homeschool is balance.
Another aspect of structure is how loose or rigid you’d like to be in your scheduling. If your child fares poorly without structure, then it might be a good idea to put together a daily, hour-by-hour schedule of their day. That way when your child wakes up, they will have a sense of what’s to come the rest of the day, and will be able to mentally prepare for it. On the other hand, if your child hates structure, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with letting your day ebb and flow. That said, you, the parent-turned-teacher, should have some objectives in mind. You don’t have to tell your child that your goal for the day is, say, to have them learn two-digit addition, but you can keep that goal in mind whenever you’re in a homeschool session.
Strategies for teaching and learning
So, you’ve figured out how and when to hold homeschool. But, eek! Now that you’re there, how do you teach them?
If you’re teaching something more traditional that can be done on paper, like a math or reading concept, you’ll want to start by explaining the concept and showing some examples. If you can think of a reference or analogy to everyday life that would better explain the concept, always use it. For example, if you’re teaching new vocabulary words, you and your child can try to craft a few sentences aloud using those words. Grounding concepts concretely within a child’s life will boost attentiveness.
After you’ve explained the concept, work through some practice problems together. Once your child has a grasp, let them do some practice on their own. Whatever you do, do not hover over your child while they’re doing their work—this adds an intense kind of pressure, not unlike if your boss decided to stand behind your desk and watch you work. The best thing you can do is tell your child that you’ll give them X number of minutes before you check back in. While they’re working, sit nearby and work on something yourself. That way, your child will feel like you’re both working together, albeit independently. This alone time will also help them to make sense of the knowledge in their own way.
No matter what kind of lesson you’re teaching, whether you’ve structured it down to the minute or you’re simply teaching by living, always remember that flexibility is your friend. Not every day will be perfect. But it’s the sum of the parts that make up the whole. You’ve got this.