Home School Nation: How to Master Your New Side-Gig

There’s a reason many of us never opted for a teaching profession. But suddenly, we’re thrust into that role. And let’s just be real… It’s hard for all of us. In addition to being an attuned parent, a productive employee, an attentive spouse, we’re also being asked to be a constant playmate, an on-demand chef, and a home-school teacher. This new, temporary normal, is one of the hardest things many of us have experienced. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a few tips for making homeschool more enjoyable.

Find the Right Rhythm 

This could also be titled, Lower Your Expectations. School schedules build in a lot of buffer time and transition time, so if the thought of teaching your child for eight hours a day, five days a week is daunting, take a deep breath. Many schools are offering online coursework or class material to occupy students during this time – use that resource. Recognize that learning at home will look different than learning at school. With less distraction and interruption, you may be surprised how quickly you can cover the subject matter. Remember to do what is best for your family, whether that’s an allotted block of time all at once devoted to school, or a few hours spread out throughout the day. Use this time as a unique opportunity to tailor learning to your children’s specific needs. For younger children, remember that play is an integral part of learning and unstructured learning for older children and teens can be beneficial as well. Lots of breaks, movement and getting outside when feasible will help everyone feel a little better.

Life Skill Learning

In addition to any required coursework your kids may need to complete, allow them to participate in the decision making of what they will learn. Brainstorm a list of things or subjects they may want to tackle. They may feel inclined to learn a certain family recipe, or a new skill. Remember that learning life skills plays an important role in development, and now is a prime opportunity to teach them. Home school learning won’t look like traditional classroom learning, because as the name implies, it’s not classroom learning. Take advantage of the extra influence you have with your kids right now to teach them things they have an interest in. Added bonus: Involving them in the decision process makes them feel empowered, and more likely to engage in the learning process. 

Help Nourish Relationships

As adults, it can be hard for us to remember that our children are used to seeing their friends every single day, and may not have the same means available to contact their friends if they don’t have a phone or tablet to message or video chat. Help your child maintain a sense of normalcy by fostering online playdates or hangouts. There are multiple video group meeting formats that allow hundreds of participants. If you have younger children, consider involving the parent’s – each child could choose a book to read, and their parent could read it to the group. 

Honor All The Feelings

Children of all ages are likely feeling the impacts of the Coronavirus; a disrupted routine, a lack of social contact with peers, disappointment over anticipated events that may not come to fruition. Graduating seniors may especially feel a sense of grief; prom, graduation, senior trips, monumental events in their lives are in jeopardy. Create space for your children to feel these emotions, and help them process if you can. Similarly, allow yourself to feel your feelings. 

Use Your Resources

While most school districts are offering support – video options with their teachers, packets of school work, etc., – many online resources are available as well, many free for parents during this time. 

Resources for elementary schoolers:

  • Scholastic Learn at Home: Offers daily free activities and lessons to keep children reading, learning and developing.
  • Prodigy: A curriculum-aligned math game designed for up to 8th grade. 

Resources for middle schoolers:

  • Khan Academy: Exercises, quizzes and activities on a variety of subjects to keep kids engaged and learning.
  • Libby: Download books or audiobooks from your local library system right to your device.

Resources for high-schoolers:

No matter what learning is looking like in your home… If you’re offering learning through nature walks and hands-on experiences, or relying on course work and instructional YouTube videos, remember that this time is mostly an opportunity to connect with your children. It’s a rare chance we have to spend this uninterrupted time with our kids, and while it’s hard and the days seem never-ending, it’s rare and it’s beautiful and it’s going to be something we look back on with fondness. (Hopefully.) Pick your battles. It’s not always about learning the concept and completing the assignment. Sometimes it is just about reading a book together, watching a show together, playing a game together. Choose the connection. When this is all over and we look back, we’ll remember the times we chose connection. 

What are your favorite resources that we missed? Do you have a favorite home-school memory yet? Share below in the comments!

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Courtney Daybell

Courtney Daybell is a wife and has three kids, three years old and under. After a hiatus, she is excited to be writing again, and enjoys sharing some of Salt Lake’s finer things with 24SLC readers. She enjoys Diet Coke, true crime podcasts and is on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

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