We have had an outbreak of Coronovirus 19 that has closed schools and other facilities across the world. That means that now, even parents who never expected to educate their kids at home, are now homeschoolers. I’ve been doing this for about five years as well as working full-time and running my household as anyone else would, and I’ve picked up a few things along the way.
What I’ve learned is the main thing it takes to be a good teacher is to be passionately curious. That’s it. Be curious with your kids. If they actually desperately need to learn fractions, bake a pizza together. Cut it. Talk about how the pizza is a whole, where the 1/2 is, what is 1/4, 1/8, etc. Be curious and compassionate.
My favorite thing I’ve ever learned about teaching was that you can take anything, literally anything, they’re interested in and use that to teach them. I used Dungeons and Dragons to teach creative writing and my students were very successful. It was a wonderful experience! Kids are curious and desperate for knowledge. There are lots of ways to teach, but teaching using your child’s current interests is a surefire way to spark a lifetime love of learning.
Children need real, physical work to do. The academics will return when school resumes. Please don’t supplement with workbooks and online/phone learning. If you have a specific academic concern, please reach out to your child’s teacher to learn how to supplement in a way that aligns with their classroom experience. Replicating the classroom experience at home is not only impossible, but improbable and will frustrate both you and your child–ask any seasoned homeschooler, because we have all tried it. Supplementation is not synonymous with replication.
Here are some ideas of things I’d suggest you could do with your child to stimulate learning in and help them to continue to grow.
Bake or cook!
Share a family recipe: think back to something you helped make as a child, share an old family recipe or tradition. Go SLOWLY! Let you child measure, pour, crack the eggs. There will be a mess (and possibly mistakes), but focus on the joy of the experience and the lifelong memory you’re creating. I promise, mistakes and all, your children will DELIGHT in helping and in eating! Let them prepare snack or lunch. Give them the freedom and see what they make! Observe from the side, helping only for safety. Remember when I baked a dozen loaves of bread with my kids a few weeks ago? My youngest helper was ONE YEAR OLD and he had fun!
Let them be the expert! Do a puzzle and let them show you where the pieces go. Play a game and let them remind you of the rules. Answer their questions with “What do you think?” Or “How could we…”
Have them use their hands!
They need to carry, pinch, scrub, push, pull, roll.
- Play with clay…actual hard clay children must soften with the warmth of their hands. Roll it, slice it with a butter knife, make cubes and spheres.
- Scrub dishes at the sink. Let them use a scrub brush to make tons of bubbles in the sink. It’s okay if only one plate or skillet gets “washed.”
- Use scissors to cut paper. Paste it, using glue in a small dish and a paint brush as an applicator, to make a collage or another object.
- Color with crayons.
- Drive toy cars, sort them by color, grade them by size.
- Sew a running stitch, sew buttons! This is the best handwriting support out there!
- Hammer nails into a stump. We were given some tiny yellow squash and hammered golf tees in. Remember that? Our 1-11 year olds had a ton of fun!
- Do some sanding!
The art of story-telling is quickly becoming lost. Children need to know stories aren’t only from books. Share stories from your childhood, from their infancy, of your favorite childhood toy, of family members they didn’t get to know.
Use Tech Wisely–It’s NOT the Enemy!
- Use screen time as a portal to see something REAL that your child can come to know. Your birth to 6-year-old is creating herself out of the world that surrounds her, including what is watched on a screen. Older kids can definitely use technology in a positive way to see what’s going on around them and learn about their wonderful world. Check out some virtual field trips!
- Nature documentaries, videos of machinery working, a road being built, etc., will delight and teach little ones.
- Watch videos of dances from other parts of the world then give them a try! Think Bollywood
- Find videos of things being made. A crayon factory, a toy car, a doll.
- Artists painting. Watch Bob Ross and both paint masterpieces.