Updated: Sep 27
Published in The Bulletin, 14.03.2020, by Christoph Schiebold & Ninette Senft https://www.thebulletin.be/coronavirus-school-closure-five-tips-homeschooling-your-child Special times require special measurements. Lots of parents suddenly are faced to homeschool although never needed to teach before, putting the homework guidance on the side. Nevertheless, if approached the right way and with a bit of preparation, this homeschooling period can be a positive experience for you as parent as well as for children. Here some tips how to set it all up.
1) Who – your child
It is about your child, the student that has to be taught at home. This might be an awkward scenario yet routine is the key. It will take a moment for your child to accept you as his/her teacher for a certain period in his/her life. Maybe you are experienced from the homework support, yet here the time frame is prolonged, hence the duration of interaction is stretched and both parties need to find the right rhythm to collaborate. So give it time, be patient, help, support and guide if needed.
2) Where – environment
Set up a nice, inviting and orderly space.
If possible, set up a work space close to your own work place, in case you are also working from home. Children like to stay close to someone whilst learning and working. In class, most children prefer to work next to their friends and/or sit next to their peers. Prepare work sheets, books and the potential utensils needed such as pencils, rulers, sharpener, colour pencils, felt pens, sticky-tape, hole puncher, white blank paper, lined paper, squared paper, compass, eraser, sticky notes, and eventually, a computer or any other device, like i-pad etc. This allows your child to start the homeschooling day smoothly and without any need to look for essential working tools.
3) What – choose subject(s)
Let children have an overview of what they have to do that day.
Before working, children like to know how much they have to do for the day. Show them briefly the overview and help them to prepare the tools they need in order to start.
You can always give the choice with which subject they want to start. Some children love math, some prefer language. In case you receive a weekly instead of a daily planning, provided by the teacher/school.
By times, children are deeply absorbed by the subject they are working on. They absolutely want to continue working on that subject and do not want to switch to a different exercise. This is OK. Let them do so because the beauty of Homeschooling is that they/you always have the chance to catch up, whatever is needed, the next day.
4) When – decide on time as routine is important.
Set up a daily morning routine. It can look like this:
a) Start of homeschool between 9.00 and 9.30h
Children are probably excited to not have to go to school. One of the main reasons might be to not have to get up so early. These times are special times and also serious. It would be helpful to support this experience with positivity, worthy to remember. Later in life, children might remember this with good thoughts having through lived a moment out of the ordinary.
b) Snack Time Include one small break during the work cycle
A small snack time with healthy food should interrupt the work cycle after approx. 1 hour. Here an example of a possible work cycle during a homeschool morning.
c) Well-deserved playtime
After a productive work cycle, most children feel proud and happy. They want to move, have fresh air and relax before they have lunch. Avoid screen times though. Better let them play outside or (in case of raining days), let them have creative playtime inside.
d) Reading time
After lunch it’s a perfect time to install the routine of a `reading time (instead of a screen time).
Children love books. Fiction but also non-fiction. Do not expect your child to just read one book. Instead, prepare a box or shelf with nice, interesting and appealing books. That allows children to have a good choice. In case your child is already a good reader and he/she is about to continue a chapter book, that is also an option. Yet variety is good and feeds an interest, widens the horizon.
e) Follow-up activities
After a silent reading time, allow your child to revise.
This is the moment for further reflection. Simple activities, easy to execute and giving successful moments, positive achievement(s) and self-assurance is very important. It can be helpful to use this time to let the child repeat activities, concepts or operations that have been done the previous day.
1) Start of work cycle.
2) Beginning work phase. Pleasing work, constructive.
3) Loss of focus. You may observe around 45 minutes after concentrated work, that children become restless. The restlessness is typical and to be expected in a learning environment. Most schools do have a breakfast break then. Offer your child a small and healthy snack with a drink and allow him/her to move a bit.
4) In depth work.
5) Completion and finalization of work, packing away time.
5) And How –
This is a new experience for most of the parents.
Patience is the key for a successful homeschooling period. In case of questions and being stuck with an exercise, best is to skip it and to move on to an exercise the child can solve easily. This prevents frustration and keeps spirits up. If possible, contact the teacher and ask for advice how to solve the exercise. This will avoid eventual struggles and unnecessary disagreements.
Hopefully this guide will help you a bit to get the homeschooling time started. Having primary children at home nonstop during a day needs an adaptation of the daily routine. Surely it will be challenging from time to time and it might take a while until the new set up is well established. Also, when you think of the Work Cycle Curve, homeschooling might start smoothly but will most likely have a dip after a week or so. Don’t let yourself be discouraged, instead keep up your routine and it will settle again. All the best!
written by Chris & Ninette, Treasure Trove