8 Ideas for Parents to Make “Home-Schooling” Work

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Keeping the “distance” in distance learning

For the past several months, the phrases: “distance learning,” “remote learning,” and “digital classrooms” have filled households across the world. Students and parents are navigating a completely new way of learning all within the confines of their own homes. 

Parental support and guidance have always been an important pillar of academic success among students. But, as students learn how to navigate distance learning, parents are being called on to be more involved in their child’s education than ever before. 

Parents are now feeling the additional pressure of not only being their child’s caretakers, but also their teachers.  

What parents fear

How do I keep my child engaged? Will my child fall behind? 

These are the two most common questions Los Angeles-based educational specialist and reading interventionist, Jordyn Rourke, is asked as an educator. 

Specifically, Rourke voices how families with young school-aged children report feeling “fearful, overwhelmed, and unsure how to offer the best learning experience for their children.” She notes that when caregivers take on the roles of teacher, a job for which they are not trained, it is natural to feel anxious.  

Children need parents to be parents

Parents should continue to focus on what they can do to keep their child’s relationships with learning as healthy and supported as possible.  

The goal of distance learning is for educators to provide parents with the resources and tools children need to continue to advance their education. It is the educator’s responsibility to ensure that students learn; it is the parent’s responsibility to support their children’s academic lives. 

8 ideas for homeschooling your child this fall

To help create an engaging homeschool learning environment and keep stress at bay, consider the following:

TIP #1: Establish a routine that works best for YOUR children and YOUR family

Plan your work, and work your plan. Once you receive the information from your child’s school about expectations and scheduling, spend some time developing a routine that works best for your family. Split your days into predictable and realistic segments. 

Try to include a morning routine that is similar to the one they had when attending in-person school. Dress them for their school day. Go through your daily checklist with them. (More on that in Tip #4! ) 

TIP #2: Choose a designated place in your home for your child to learn

It is reasonable that students find it difficult to stay engaged during distance learning because, up until this point, they’ve associated home with this is my place to play and relax and hang out. Sure, there may have been a spot designated to this is where I get my homework done. However, if that same spot has become the spot where all of their learning is taking place, it might feel overwhelming and traumatic for the student to now associate that spot with hours and hours of learning. 

Try to find a place in your home where distractions are limited. Invite your child to help you “build and design their classroom” for this upcoming school year. Have them create positivity posters similar to the ones they may be used to seeing in school. 

TIP #3: Ask for help

In the Spring, educators transferred an entire semester of learning into a digital experience with very little preparation time. Now, educators have more experience in delivering their information digitally. If you feel you aren’t getting the resources that you need to support your child, ask for more information. Do not be afraid to ask your child’s teachers for help and clarification.

If your child is old enough to advocate for themselves, encourage them to reach out to their teachers for help when they have questions. Most educators will walk their students through how best to get in touch with them during this time, however, it may give you peace of mind to ensure your child is 100% clear on how to reach out. If they feel supported, you will feel supported. 

TIP #4: Include daily check-ins in your routine

A brief check-in can help your child develop autonomy in educational organization and keep lines of communication open between you and your child. 

Morning Check-in:

  • What classes do you have today?
  • Do you have any tests or quizzes?
  • What do you need to succeed today?
  • What can I help you do?

Evening Check-in: 

  • What was your favorite part of learning today?
  • What made you feel proud?
  • What did you discover?
  • What was hard?
  • What can we do to make tomorrow better?

Rounding out the day with a wellness question like: What was a positive and challenging moment of your day? This will help you get an idea of what worked and what didn’t, and help gauge how your child is feeling emotionally. Sharing your own “peaks” and “pits” of your day will inspire your child to keep the lines of communication open. If you are sharing with them, they will share with you. 

TIP #5: Encourage physical activity and exercise

Living, working, and learning from home can feel monotonous and claustrophobic. Encourage your child to take “brain breaks” and get outside. Additionally, many athletic companies and teams are offering remote classes and day camps. If it is feasible, and your child has a tablet or portable device, consider enrolling them in a zoom class where they can take their device outside and work on their soccer or dance skills. 

TIP #6: Consider “learning pods” 

Some families are unable to provide the daily support that their children need during remote learning. Creating rotating “learning pods” or “quarantine pods” with neighbors can help. This provides 1-2 hours a day to supplement online learning. The learning is done outside in the backyard, with implemented social distancing guidelines and practices. Depending on your circumstance, you may be able to team up with some neighboring families to create a schedule where your children can interact safely, using the health guidelines in your state or country. Parents also work together to create testing schedules, where families get tested every two weeks to help reduce their chances of infection. 

TIP #7: Use positive reinforcement

Reward-based achievement charts are a great way to keep your kids motivated.

Create a reward-based system in your home. Make a “star chart” where your child can put a star on their chart for completing certain tasks, or for exhibiting good behavior. If they can achieve a certain number of stars per day or per week (whatever is best for your child), reward them with a prize. Maybe their prize is their favorite ice cream, or movie, etc. 

TIP #8: When in doubt, READ

Some days will be more challenging than others. You will sense your child’s frustration with distance learning, and it may leave you feeling frustrated too. On these days, still encourage reading.

Dust off old books around the house or download an ebook! Worldreader has dozens of ebooks to choose from in our free library of digital books via the Booksmart app. Reading and enjoying a positive moment around a story is building young brains and helping you “check in” with your child to see how they are feeling. Books offer children a healthy escape from the new stressors that will inevitably arise this school year. Children access knowledge and worlds outside of their own through reading- make it an adventure! Act out their favorite stories with them, make costumes, and encourage their most wild imaginations to fill your home.

You can access Worldreader’s FREE library of digital books via BookSmart at bebooksmart.com

 

 

About Jordyn Rourke

Jordyn is an Educational Specialist living and working in Los Angeles, California. A graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she specializes in reading intervention, executive functioning coaching, and writing skill-building. When she’s not working with students, you can find her playing soccer on the beach, surfing, or hiking with friends.