Homeschooling 101: Take Action

This series aims to help out parents who have been thrust into homeschooling by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Homeschooling 101
Don’t “wait and see” if your child is struggling, take action.

First, what a learning hangup is not:

  1. Proof your child has some sort of constitutional inability to do this work.
  2. Proof your child has a learning disability. If you take steps to remedy the situation and they don’t improve in a week, AND you see similar difficulty in other subjects, consider requesting a virtual teacher conference.
  3. Proof their teacher, school, or Common Core is at fault.
  4. Proof that you suck. Give yourself a break, you are not all powerful, and that applies a thousand fold to your children’s learning.

That said, now is not the time to stick your head in the sand, if your child is struggling with a concept, it won’t necessarily get better without intervention and the lessons are going to proceed at the assigned pace so your child could be left behind if you sit on your hands. You will need to take steps to help them. Begin by troubleshooting the problem:

  1. Have they been struggling in this subject before? In that case, they may need to strengthen a more foundational concept. Go back over the previous lessons in this area with them (ex.: prior lessons on fractions if they are having trouble with reducing fractions now).
  2. Can they do the work sometimes but they are inconsistent about doing it correctly? Unless there’s some external factor like a failure in their sleep schedule or a missed meal, they probably just need more practice. Common Core has made it much easier to find resources on your own that will help you review and practice skills from school. You can get workbooks such as the DK grade level and subject books to drill the skill, or find numerous websites where you can print your own (I use for this on occasion).
  3. Were they doing fine but now they’re flopping on the first lesson they have to do from home? Ok, this one might be on you since we weren’t raised with Common Core or your skills might be rusty. Go over the lesson on your own and if you aren’t quite getting it, go to a resource like YouTube or Khan Academy (please check your sources to see that they’re trustworthy!) to review and drill the skill, then go over it again with them.

Whatever you do, keep one rule of thumb in mind:

The goal is to instill a love of learning.

We want and need self-motivated learners. Don’t drill them until they cry. Don’t lose your temper. If it’s frustrating, try to look at it as a puzzle you are working out together, let them see your curiosity and problem solving skills in action. This can be a bonding experience like no other if you let it.

Welcome to Home Schooling

This series is by request. I was going to do a quick tip a day, but I realized that wasn’t going to be very helpful for those who need it, so here we go:

Homeschooling 101
It can take a LOT less time to get their work done.

You’re not doing anything wrong, and they may even be doing more schoolwork per day depending on what their teacher assigned, there’s just less time being spent in travel, classroom management, and probably in instruction since they have one-on-one access to help.

While you’re adjusting, you may want to add some assignments of your own to keep them out from under foot, my go to suggestions:

  1. Daily Exercise – If they don’t get this, they will climb the walls and may not sleep at night. Assign a half hour to a full hour of exercise a day, outside ideally. Whatever gets it done is all right whether that means a video game like Dance Dance Revolution or Ring Fit, or just putting on cheesy dance music and moshing in the living room. If your kid does a sport, try to keep up some form of practice.
  2. Journaling and Scrapbooking – You need them to burn time and they need to cope with big feelings, set them up with age appropriate journaling materials and require them to do a decent amount each day. I expect a page of journaling a day from my older kids and let the younger ones loose to express themselves with art (it’s very abstract art in O.’s case). If your older kids tend to get their work done so fast you’re stuck with them underfoot all day, have them also do a scrapbook collecting news items about the COVID situation. Do your best to preserve these for them, someday it will be a piece of family history.
  3. Daily Free Reading – Require an age appropriate minimum amount of reading per day, stretch it as much as possible because it’s as good for them as it is for you. This should be screen free if possible because they’re going to get plenty of screen time otherwise. If they grouse about reading, act like it’s no big deal to you if they don’t and hand them dull chores to do like laundry folding. Mine will generally disappear to read. Vital caveat here: this is free reading, let them read whatever they want, this isn’t purely academic but sanity saving, and if they read trash but come out of it with a love of reading, you’ve won the war if not the battle.