By: Ben Simonds
These days, with schools cancelled and kids stuck at home, parents everywhere are finding themselves playing the role of both caretaker and teacher. While most parents feel comfortable taking care of their child, most don’t have much experience with schooling them and helping to advance their education. This blog can begin to help the inexperienced parent-turned-teacher get started with educating their children with a few useful tips.
Figure out the best system
The first thing parents ask themselves, their child, and if possible, their child’s teacher as they begin homeschooling them is: what will their learning look like? Are their children still connected with school and teacher through online classes, or are the parents mostly on their own? Are the children getting assignments from school, or do the parents have to come up with assignments themselves? If their child is still getting homework from their teacher and having some online schooling, it will be the parent’s job to help them work through their assignments and facilitate the learning experience. Being aware of what their child is learning in class allows them to be better prepared to help their child. Also, communicating with the teacher about their child’s learning objectives helps give them a concrete picture of where they want their child to be in their learning at the end of each week.
If parents are having to come up with their child’s lessons themselves, it’s first important for them to decide whether they want to create a traditional structured curriculum for their child, or if the parent wants to be more flexible and give their child more leeway in what they want to learn each day. They may decide that giving their child more structure in their schoolwork would be better for getting them in a routine (while maintaining their own routine), and would help give them a sense of normalcy in their life (Isenberg, 2007). On the other hand, allowing more flexibility, letting the child take the lead, and working together to develop creative and unique ways to learn could be a preferable method for the parent and their family (Carson, 2020). There are certainly benefits to both methods, and we’ll discuss more details on how to best approach each system in later posts, but for now, it would be worth working with their child, the teacher, and their schedule to figure out what seems like the best learning system for their child.
Connect with other home-schooling parents
It’s important to remember that when it comes to being a parent having to homeschool their child for the first time, they are not alone. Parents and caretakers everywhere are in the same boat, and connecting with other newly-homeschooling parents can be a great way to get strong community support as well as some new ideas! Parents look to reach out to other parents at their child’s school. There are often community Facebook pages or other forms of connection through social media. Connecting with other parents can help newly-homeschooling parents feel like they are not alone in this feat. Their community can help them figure out what is working for other parents and their children, all of which can help strengthen the parent’s teaching plan and further enhance their child’s education.
Another reason why connecting with other home-schooling parents is helpful is it can help the parent’s child stay connected to their classmates. Planning out lessons and assignments similar to those other children are studying can be a great way to get their child excited about homeschooling and keep them connected to their peers (Ray, 2013). Parents can even figure out ways to connect their children directly to their peers through joint assignments, lessons, or discussions - either through video chat or socially distanced in person! Though these are certainly stressful times and children may be getting a bit stir-crazy at home, connecting them to their peers through their schoolwork could be a great way to advance their learning in a fun and productive way.
Be patient and have fun!
Always remember that this is new for both the parent and the child. It may be difficult for parents to keep their child focused and engaged, but it’s important to stick with it and try their best to make the most of the new learning experience. The child could be feeling any mix of emotions, be it scared, bored, stressed, or happy to be home. Regardless of how they’re feeling, in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s important to keep their child as happy and engaged as possible. Try not to let schoolwork be a source of stress and boredom, but one of fun and distraction (Murphy, 2014). Parents should do what they can to make assignments fun, hands-on, and as interesting as possible. Trying out new science experiments, acting out stories or books they’re reading, making real-life examples out of math problems, and more can really help them learn to see school as something to enjoy, not to dread. In the end, the most important thing for the child is their happiness and feeling of safety, and all of that plus much more can be achieved through effective, engaging homeschooling.
Stay tuned for more posts about homeschooling. We’ll be discussing things like how to best manage homeschooling as a working parent, how to determine which system of learning is the best fit for the homeschooled child, how to best stay engaged with the homeschooling community, and much more!
Ben Simonds is a Junior at Bowdoin College pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology with a concentration in child development and a minor in religious studies. He is passionate about working with children and advocating for mental and emotional health. As a blog writer he is committed to writing about
the most important issues and doing what he can to give parents the tools to raise healthy and happy children.
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Ray, B. D. (2013). Homeschooling associated with beneficial learner and societal outcomes
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