There’s no denying that what’s happening our our world right now is something we’ve never experienced before. With the spread of COVID-19, many countries are going into full lock-downs and parents across the world are finding themselves suddenly thrown into the world of ‘homeschooling’ with many still juggling their own businesses or working from home. It’s a lot to wrap your head around and it’s certainly an overwhelming and worrying time for many.
This week I want to share 6 really simple tips to help take away some of the worry and uncertainty around homeschooling or home learning with your little learners.
First and foremost, my biggest tip is to remove the expectations you have put on yourself during this time. Many of my friends homeschool and they spend days at the forest or beach playing and exploring with friends. They visit the library to borrow new books. They visit the Museum to learn more about their favourite animals. Homeschooling is so much more than sitting down at a desk and doing school work for 6 hours every single day.
In most cases, parents choose to homeschool after doing their own research and deciding that it will work for their children and their family. What we are doing now isn’t really homeschooling. It’s crisis schooling.
It’s also so important to note that in a classroom setting, your child isn’t going to be getting 6 hours of 1:1 support every single day. They are one of thirty children in most cases. So just having an hour or two of home learning time with their parent is really all that they need. There’s absolutely no need to have a 6 hour program in your home every single day of the week right now. That’s a lot of pressure on you and your children.
However, it might help to set up some simple routines around your home learning if you feel like you and your little learners need a little bit of structure. We have been doing this very loosely – I’ll usually do 2 hours of work for my business in the morning while the kids are happily playing. My husband Kurtis takes the kids outside so I can concentrate and get my work done…and then we have the whole afternoon free for any home learning, home tasks and for free play together in the yard or inside.
You might also like to use my Daily Routine Cards if you’d like a visual schedule to help you map out your day – but please don’t feel like this is necessary. You can just follow your child and let them guide how much or how little home learning you do together. These Daily Routine Cards now also include cards for home learning if that’s something you’d like to use!
Practical Life Skills
Now is a wonderful time to have your little learners help around the house! Why not take the opportunity to teach your little learner about composting? You might like to do some baking or cooking together in the kitchen – this is a really easy way to investigate early measurement skills with your little learner.
We’ve just moved into our first home and our children have LOVED getting into the garden with us. We’ve spent many afternoons weeding, planting seedlings and taking care of our new garden. We’ve observed the lifecycle of a butterfly and how passionfruit begins as a beautiful flower and slowly transforms into a big fruit ready for us to eat! Learning is all around us without having to specifically prepare lessons or activities.
Begin an Investigation
Following on from the last point, now is a wonderful time to begin an investigation with your little learners. If you have children in your home, you no doubt know how they love to ask questions. You can use this as an opportunity to investigate a topic that is interesting and relevant to your little learner.
For example, a few weeks ago we were in the garden digging out some old plants when all these ants poured out of a stump. They were carrying little white things on their back and Lilly (5 years) asked what was happening. We decided to do a bit of an investigation on ants! I actually ordered some books online and we watched some documentaries on YouTube to learn everything we could about ants, their life cycle, the different jobs each ant has in their colony…it was a really fun way to inject some learning into our day to day!
Lilly finished the investigation by making her own information poster with a few facts that she had learnt from our investigation. This was a really simple way to have her write with a purpose without sitting down and ‘teaching’ her or forcing her to do school work. She was very proud sending a photo of her work to her teacher!
We also watched some live-streams from some local zoos which kicked off another investigation around Zoo Animals. We went through our books and pulled out anything relevant. Lilly made animals out of toilet paper rolls and this week we’re going to make our own Non-Fiction text all about different animals that live in the zoo. This type of learning is so easy to do because it’s directly related to the interests of our little learners. I used a Play Planner from the Little Play Club to map out our learning for this theme!
Read, Read and Read!
Reading is a really simple way to encourage your little learner to continue their learning at home. A child that reads for 20 minutes everyday will hear nearly 2 million words in a year and will have read for over 850 hours by the time they finish primary school. Reading each day will help to support their growing vocabulary, boost their brain development AND it’s a wonderful way to bond with your little learner.
If you’re looking for age-appropriate readers to use at home with your little learners, check out Reading Eggs, Decodable Readers Australia, Cengage PM Readers and My Teaching Cupboard.
This has been a tricky one for me to get my head around because our family go on a lot of adventures outside the home. We love visiting new parks and playgrounds or visiting the beach or going on bushwalks so it’s been hard not being able to leave the house. However, this has also been a reminder of what is truly most important and that is our loved ones.
Slowing down and spending time together as a family unit at home is truly so incredibly special and I’m sure we’ll look back at this time together very fondly. We’ll remember icing Easter cookies in our kitchen, making a tent from palm fronds in the garden, painting the outside of our new home as a family, finding caterpillars in our kitchen which Lilly snuck in from the garden….now is the time to create some beautiful, simple memories of childhood with our family.
Above all else, remember to just have fun! Play a silly game together, have a tickle fight, chase one another around the yard with the hose. Embrace the silly and take time to build a playful connection with your little learners. During this tricky time, your little learners will be looking to you for guidance. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, chances are your little learner will pick up on that too. So where possible, try to focus on the fun and silliness of childhood.
Remember, we’re all in this together. Every family across the world is navigating these tricky times together. All of our children will be in the same boat having missed several months of their schooling year by the time they go back to school. So long as your children are happy and feeling connected and supported by you, that’s all that matters!