Running a household, meal prepping your way through the week, sifting through piles of laundry, and keeping them healthy and happy. Your job as a parent is already huge so throwing homeschooling into the mix may seem like an unsurmountable task. Here's a list of ways to not only make the transition easier, but find a way for your family to enjoy learning together. Whether the reason is due to school closures or a change of lifestyle homeschooling can become a true bonding experience for you and your children.
1. Create a schedule. This doesn't have to be a strict timetable that is followed by the hour, but a list of activities to guide your day can make each task seem less daunting. Let the kids get involved and make sure to add those snack breaks and outdoor play time so they have something to get excited about.
2. Find a comfortable space. Is it a cozy corner in their room? The dining table or picnic area outside? Maybe even their treehouse or makeshift fort. Whatever suits your needs and ensures your children and your comfort through the learning process. Make sure there's a table where they can do their assigments, but remember reading can be done snuggled in a corner of cushions. Storage solutions are a great way for them to personalise the area and have easy access to all their homeschool supplies. It is important that as soon as they enter the space they know homeschooling has begun.
3. Take it outdoors. Don't force all the learning to be at a desk in their room. The alphabet can be written with a stick into the sand or dirt. Have them collect sticks, rocks, shells, or fallen leaves and use them for easy math games or artwork. Create messy science experiments or painting projects in the back garden. Write short phrases with chalk on the driveway as a fun and colurful way to practice phonics. Get creative and let them have a bit of fresh air while they learn. Children love variety and adventure, and changing the scenery can create interest when they're attention spans are waning.
4. If you are getting frustated, move on. If you or your child are getting impatient or finding each other frustrating during an assigment don't be afraid to try something else. Take a deep breath and come back to it later. Ask them what they would rather do and give your child a list of options. "If you don't like this reading exercise would you rather do a bit of math and read later?" Sometimes just a few minutes playing a game or drawing a picture can take the pressure away and they can continue the orginal assigment more focused and engaged. It also gives you a chance to calm down and not take your frustrations out on your child.
5. Make back-up projects for busy days. Do you have a painting activity you've been wanting to try? Maybe there's a favourite science experiment they always love to do. Put together little boxes with all the supplies and ingredients. Write down the instructions and hand them out to each child. If your child is at a reading age they can read the instructions themselves. If not you can dictate the instructions first before leaving them to complete the task. This is a great solution on busy days where you have a lot of your own work or chores, or maybe just need an hour to yourself. Montessori teaches many independent learning activites that are ideal for this situation. Something as simple as cutting fruit, a salt tray for writing the alphabet, or arranging blocks by colour can work depending on the age of your child.
6. Online resources. We all need guidance when it comes to new ideas or curriculums. Twinkl has an app and website for a very small monthly fee. You can choose from thousands of printables for all ages and subjects making your job all that much easier. ABC Mouse or Monster Math are also great for kindegarten and grade school kids. Research a curriculum you like and find blogs, websites, or apps that can assist you with fine tuning your homeschooling days.
7. Teach one child at a time. If you have multiple kids make sure they all get one on one learning time. While it is fun to do certain assigments and exercises together, the one on one time will ensure you know your child's level and how best to proceed with their education. Each child learns differently and the best part of homeschooling is you are there to personalise and cater to your child's distinct nature and needs.
8. Encourage questions. Don't be so set on the current assignment that you don't have conversations. Homeschooling means you don't need to be as strict about schedules so encourage your child's questions and curiousity. Maybe you are learning about plants but she starts asking about the environment. This might be a great time to pull out the worksheets about climate change. Children often absorb more if they're the ones asking the questions.
9. Positive incentives. Don't bribe your kids to learn but an alluring goal doesn't hurt. If your child is wanting a new book or more time on their iPads you can require they finish a certain amount of their work before recieving that privilege. Also reward for big achievements. Maybe they've been struggling with something for days or having trouble with a specific subject. Take them out for ice cream when the task has been completed or they reach a big milestone. Having something to work towards is a great way to encourage learning and setting goals.
10. Find Homeschool friends. Some days will be harder than others, and often you may get a little lost with what to put on the schedule. This is when your friends who are also homeschooling their children can be a source of comfort and inspiration. Maybe they live in your neighborhood or you met them in a Facebook group, anyone who is supportive and understands your journey will make those difficult days more relatable and less stressful.