Now that most states nationwide have closed schools because of the Coronavirus pandemic, are you wondering how to set aside time each day for your kids to continue learning? Dr. Allison Rief, Lead Faculty at the University of Arizona Global Campus, offers a few tips for students who are also working parents.
“If you are taking on the teaching of your own children, please go into it with the mindset that it won’t be perfect,” Dr. Rief says. “Think about any first-year teachers you have known. They are probably stressed and overtired. That is going to be you. You can’t expect perfection. All you can do is your best.”
Dr. Rief recommends setting up working hour boundaries if you’re working remotely, then set up teaching time. Try to schedule school time in the first half of the day when brains are better able to focus and kids have more energy.
A full day at school is about eight hours, but you won’t need to spend anywhere near that much time teaching at home, Dr. Rief explains.
“Luckily, you won’t need to fill that entire time with school-type activities,” she says. “When your kids are at school, they are in a classroom with about 25 other little beings. It takes time just to manage that many people, and even more time to teach them new concepts, she says. Teaching one-on-one or one-on-four, or however many children you have will take much less time. This will free you up for opportunities for breaks.”
Maintain a Schedule
Although you can't strive for perfection and you should anticipate changes to any schedule you create, sticking to a routine is going to be paramount to your success.
“Make a schedule that works for you all and Include times for breaks, meals, snacks, physical exercise, play, and each of the subjects you want to cover,” she says.
Here are a few sites that offer advice on scheduling your day:
Some other tips include:
1. Read as much as possible
Reading is going to be a key activity, Dr. Rief says.
“As an educator, I cannot stress enough the importance of reading, regardless of their age. If there is anything you can be hyper-vigilant about (besides your health), it is making sure they have multiple opportunities to read daily. You can switch it up — read aloud, read silently, read as a family — just read!”
2. Have kids write
Now is also a good time to start a writing journal for kids.
“Writing is a great way to start the academic portion of your day,” Dr. Rief recommends. “This is a great way to also get the pulse on how your children are thinking and feeling. They are often more likely to share feelings of concern or worry through their writing than they are verbally. And don’t forget to allow for time to illustrate their work.”
Dr. Rief offers these examples of sites that have advice on journal-writing:
3. Stay Organized
Your home-schooling area should be organized, according to Dr. Rief.
“Chaos and clutter can cause stress,” she notes. “I know that having the kids at home all day long doesn’t correlate to a clean house. But, if you can cut back on the clutter and add clean-up time to your daily schedule, your kids will feel better and be ready to learn.”
Create a set place for your kids to do their work with all the needed materials at their fingertips. This will help the transition from playtime to work time. “It will also cut down on distractions,” she adds.
4. Use online services
Tons of companies are offering free subscriptions that will help. “Take advantage of them,” Dr. Rief says.
5. Think outside of the box
According to Dr. Rief, kids can learn from activities that you don’t think of as being education-based. Take time to bake and talk about measurements, she says.
“Go on a family walk and discuss flora and fauna. Create a store with small items such as snacks the kids can purchase as they practice counting money. Pretty much anything can be turned into an educational moment.”
6. Go outside (but practice social distancing)
It’s also important to take the time to get outdoors in the fresh air. If you don’t have access to a yard or area for play, consider web- or TV-based exercise shows such as:
7. Stay connected to community leaders
Be sure to check with your child’s school, teachers, coaches, Scoutmasters, music directors, and more for enrichment ideas. While many teachers are not grading assignments during the school closures, they will email or post activities that can accompany your lesson time and keep your kids busy.
Here are a few sites that you can refer to for ideas:
- This guide to virtual museums includes links to 75 of the best online tours.
- Scholastic has launched an online “Learn at Home” website for students from preschool through grades six plus.
- Looking to go on a field trip from home? Choose from more than 30 virtual field trips and animal cams.
- To learn more about how to teach your kids at home during the coronavirus outbreak, CNN offers these tips.
- TIME Magazine offers “The Secret to Keeping Your Kids Happy, Busy and Learning if Their School Closes Due to Coronavirus.”
- These activities will help if you have preschooler with special needs at home.
- Check out these extracurricular activities for kids with special needs.
- Here are 21 fun and interesting activities if you have a teenager with autism.
- This site offers resources for a variety of topics including STEM, including sites that help students learn how to code.
- Hoopla is a digital media service that is offered through your local library that allows you to “borrow” movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics, and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, or phone — and even your TV!
Written by University Staff