For many parents whose children are now learning at home rather than in a traditional classroom environment, adjusting to the role of parent and teacher has been challenging. I frequently hear “How do I teach my kids? I’m not a teacher!” To this question, there’s no simple answer.
As VP of Sales and Marketing for Lincoln Learning Solutions and mother of three school-age children (8, 10, and 11), I feel your pain. I spent more than ten years as a classroom teacher, and at times, I don’t feel prepared to homeschool my three kids while balancing all my other responsibilities. It can be exhausting working full time from home, keeping up with household chores, and making sure my kids are taking showers and brushing their teeth — things they believe they only have to do if they’re leaving the house.
If you’re overwhelmed about teaching your kids at home, you can consider the following tips as you ride this roller coaster of uncertainty:
1. Don’t be afraid of trial and error.
There’s an overwhelming number of homeschooling best practices being shared across the Internet. They all work for someone, but none of them work for everyone. Do what works for you and your children. If color-coded schedules are more tedious than they are helpful, don’t use them. If letting your children sleep past the start of a “typical” school day works for your family, go with it. Most importantly, do what works for you and your children. Don’t feel handcuffed by what you’ve read or heard works for others.
2. Keep your children active.
They don’t have to be completing an organized activity or playing a game. Encourage them to run in the yard, do yoga, ride their bike — anything that’s fun and gets their heart rate going. If your children are anything like my Xbox-loving son, you may have to push them a bit, but do them a favor and get them moving. Staying active is good for the body and the mind.
3. Let your children choose.
Yes, you have to help them learn math, reading, language arts, science, and social studies. What you don’t have to do is teach these courses at the same time every day in the same way. See what your children enjoy. Do they like learning math by creating rhymes and singing? Do they enjoy hands-on experiments for science? Work with them to personalize learning to their interests.
4. Hear your children out.
The stresses of this pandemic are far reaching. Trust me, if you’re feeling stressed, there’s a good chance your children are too. Listen to their spoken communication and their nonverbal cues. If you or your children are not in the right state of mind to teach or learn, it’s okay. There may be a day or two that no learning is done. Give yourselves time to reboot.
5. See the value in offline learning.
There are amazing resources out there to help your children succeed in these crazy times. Take advantage of them if they work for your family, but know that not all activities need to be completed online. Virtual education appeals to some children, but others prefer a more traditional setting. Explore your options, talk to your children’s teachers and administrators, and find out what’s available that fits their learning style. Take authority as their teacher to make an online activity something your children can complete offline using pencil and paper or hands-on materials.
For more information on ways to teach English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies, take a look at articles listed below.
It’s a crazy time in our world right now. As parents, you are being asked to do a lot of things outside your typical wheelhouse. Take a deep breath and know that you’ve got this!