Your alarm goes off. It’s the middle of the week and you have a job to get to. You throw the sheets back and get ready to take on your day. Though you may have a big deadline looming, or an important presentation coming up that is causing some stress, generally speaking, you are comfortable because you know your routine and you know what is expected of you.
As you walk out the door the phone rings. It’s your neighbor urging you to check your email. It’s in that moment that you learn you now have an entirely different profession, one you’ve never prepared for, and it begins now. What’s more, it centers around the most important thing in your universe: your children. Schools have closed. You are the teacher. The pressure is on, you can’t mess this up.
Sound familiar? COVID-19 swept us off our feet so quickly that very few of us had time to prepare for what has and continues to unfold in our country and in this world. Millions of parents and caregivers are coming to terms with the fact that they are now home-school teachers. For many, it’s in addition to their income-earning profession which is now also done remotely.
Once you’ve swallowed down the initial panic that this is not a drill, parents and caregivers need to get down to business. Time is ticking. But there are complicated layers here. Most caregivers do not have the experience and know-how at this point in time for educating their students. Many are unsure where to even begin. Others may be drowning in resources. And then there is the icing on the cake: where will I find the time to do this?
LifeChanger of the Year, a national K-12 recognition program, is sharing ongoing tips and advice for homeschooling parents and caregivers from the people who know education best: teachers.
To begin, think about putting together a daily schedule. It can be hour by hour or activity by activity. Some prefer to have it really broken down while others will feel better having it a bit broader and more flexible. Consider it a working document and allow it to be fluid. If you have multiple children then consider finding opportunities for overlapping activities, or lessons that the older child can help facilitate.
“Kids want structure, just like us. Plan some time for play – teach them a card game or do a puzzle together,” shares Amy Lazarowicz, 2016-2017 Grand Prize Finalist for LifeChanger of the Year.
Get your children involved in the curriculum, too. Letting children have the ability to make some decisions about what they are learning will boost engagement and morale.
“Children want to learn. They are natural scientists if given the right environment. Find out what they want to learn about. What are they interested in? And then fill their world with information related to that interest. Science, math, literature, and social studies will all be covered if given time and gentle scaffolding.” – Valerie Ouimet, Early Education Teacher and Site Director
Think of education like a combo exercise move. You know, when you mesh at least two moves into one continuous flow to maximize the results. Try the same concept in the curriculum you are putting together. I’ll give you an example. My son is almost six, he’s in kindergarten. Yesterday we decided together that we wanted the theme for the day to be Africa. We started the day with some language arts using a popular learning program, Lexia, where the level he is on is African themed. In addition to practicing sight word recognition and word categories, he learned some neat facts about African animals. We then moved into making a physical book. He drew pictures of the animals and worked on writing some of the facts we had learned into the pages. Next up, we moved to the kitchen where we made African beads out of a salt dough. Once the dough had cooked and cooled we painted the beads while listening to African drum music. The learning was fun and engaging. We combined multiple subjects (even baking) and he had some control over the lesson plan.
I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice from one of our LifeChangers. Becky Buice is a supportive instruction paraeducator and she shares the following:
“No one expects a parent to suddenly become a master teacher. As long as the student is going into the digital format each day and attempting to complete the work, most educators will be forgiving.”
So on that note, be gentle on yourself. Breathe. These are unprecedented times and we are all learning together.