The Covid-19 pandemic has made parents around the world teachers overnight. With schools closed, we have been thrown into the world of phonics, lesson plans and worksheets. And it has not been a walk in the park.
If you are struggling like us, here are some tips that we hope will make your homeschooling journey just that little bit easier… and a whole lot more enjoyable!
1. Child directed learning
The easiest way to make teaching stress free? Make sure your child is interested and wants to learn. We all know there is nothing harder than to force a sullen, uncooperative child to finish their ‘homework’.
Child initiated activities have been advocated by many educational philosophies including the Reggio Emilia approach. When children are engaged, deeper and more meaningful learning takes place. Take cues from your child’s questions throughout the day. It often comes at the most unexpected times.
Just last week, I found a snail whilst washing the veggies. “Where do snails live, mummy?” was my daughter’s first question after being shown the discovery. We proceeded to build a home for our new pet, now called Tommy. This event led to many extended lessons about habitats, plants and insects!
2. Learning schedule and space
Creating a learning time frame with an allocated space allows for structure and predictability- both crucial in helping to manage a child’s daily learning expectations. Homeschooling will allow you the flexibility to curate the best combination for your child. Some children may prefer more breaks in between learning. Some may prefer a cozy corner over a large spacious room. Work out what works best for you and your child.
Of course, practical learning often takes place throughout the day, at unplanned times and at different parts of the house. Units of measure can be explored while cooking and gardening becomes a time to learn about plants. Reinforce and expand on these concepts during your scheduled learning sessions.
3. Daily chores
Don’t forget to involve your children in the daily chores. The popular Montessori method encourages practical life skills even from a young age.
Helping around the house builds a host of positive traits- responsibility, helpfulness and cooperation. Yes, we even recommend getting your barely talking toddler to help you scoop that extra spoonful of rice into the bowl. Even if it means extra clean up or twice the normal amount of time it will take to complete the chore. Of course, choose the ‘messiness’ of the ‘help’ based on your mental capacity at that time!
Many concepts can also be incorporated within daily chores. Categorisation while putting away (and sanitising) the groceries. Literacy when reading recipes. Recycling while throwing out the trash. The list is endless.
4. Socio-emotional skills
We are all social creatures and it’s not easy having to practice social distancing. Your child is likely to feel the same way. Get your child to stay connected with familiar faces through video chats.
Talking about feelings is also helpful while going through this drastic change in our lifestyles. Get the entire family to openly express their feelings and brainstorm together solutions to difficulties encountered. Developing problem solving skills is just as (if not more) important as learning their 123s!
Encouraging gratefulness seems timely in the midst of this global health crisis. A simple suggested activity that can be done is to make a gratitude journal. Simply get your child to write/ draw out one thing they are grateful for over the course of a week. I was pleasantly touched when my daughter exclaimed one day “I am thankful for baby coming out of your tummy.” The answers you hear may just melt your heart.
5. Let the kids get bored
We all want the best for our kids. On normal days, many kids are ferried from one activity to another. It is exhausting for us, but we do it for their future. Idle time is wasted time. How is being stuck at home all day going to affect their learning? Many worry. We feel pressured to constantly find ways to occupy our children- to make sure they don’t fall behind in their development.
Good news, parents! Research has shown there are in fact many benefits of boredom. According to psychologists, boredom and unstructured time unleashes creativity and allows for children to discover their true interests. Watch as your kids find innovative ways to self-entertain. Don’t feel the need to shop excessively online for educational toys (let’s save that for your own indulgences). Blankets in the house can be turned into a fortress, a row of chairs into a train.
Now is the perfect time to slow down our pace of life, to enjoy the little moments at home, to relax… and to let the kids get bored.
6. Take it easy
Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. We repeat- Take it easy. We have enough on our plates juggling the many new roles thrown at us. Did your kids miss their online class due to an unexpected tantrum fit? It’s okay. There’s always a tomorrow. Engage the help of technology when needed. When used with intention, screen time can be a wonderful aid in learning and development.
As parents, we all want our kids to look back at their childhood moments with fondness. Let’s focus on the memories being built as we spend time homeschooling this season. We can do this!
By Elaine Yeoh
Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.