Students across the country have suddenly transitioned from the classroom to the cloud, and the transition is clearly leaving teachers, parents and kids stressed and overwhelmed.
I can speak from experience, the first few days of homeschooling for my family were a total disaster. My kids were stressed, I was stressed, and I don’t think either of us liked each other (or ourselves) by the end of the day.
But after week one, I started noticing that a few simple tweaks to my approach could make the world of difference to the learning experiences of my kids, and my own personal time management too:
Create a schedule: Ideally, try to create the same schedule every day as this is about creating new routines at home. If your kids are in elementary school, determine specific times for reading, math, writing and other subjects that are similar to their school schedule. Remember to build in time for breaks, lunch, snacks, and exercise. Creating a list of things to do teaches your kids the basic skills needed to work independently, so you can also get some work done too. I like to post the schedule in a place where your child can look at it frequently, so they are not constantly asking you what they should be doing.
Create a healthy workspace: The trick here is to make it close enough to a parent that kids can call out as needed, but far enough away not to distract either one of you, especially if your child is using Zoom or another video-chat service for classes. In week one I made the mistake of having both my kids work next to me at the dining room table, and it ended with questions every 5 minutes! Giving them a little distance will teach them valuable problem solving skills.
The workspace doesn’t need to look like a classroom, your child may be sitting at their desk or your kitchen table, but try to make it a dedicated desk (meaning it’s just for them), and keep it free from distractions and adjust it as needed to find a solution that works for everyone.
Balance what is taught and don’t forget the Arts: Music and the Arts generally are an important part of your child’s education that can also play a fun role while kids are stuck at home. Whether they simply listen to music to relax, practice an instrument, sing karaoke, dance or use music to inspire creative writing, musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain.
It encourages creative thinking, and is also inherently collaborative so it can be a way for students to stay virtually connected and engaged with their teachers and classmates while they are learning remotely.
Work on Projects. Going to the cloud often means project based learning is lost. Project based learning requires a lot of planning and management, and oftentimes collaboration. But the Arts are a great way to keep projects going! Not only do they keep lessons fun, but they change the learning perspective from student to teacher. Here are a few ideas of music based projects to try at home:
- Make a music video about a subject or write a rap song that ties in at least one fact learned from each subject.
- Find a song that talks about any of the themes discussed in their lessons and ask, what perspective it is written from? How is it the same and how is it different from what is learned? This will deepen the learning of the lesson plan. Better yet – make it a dance party!
- Record yourself reading a book or article and set it to music. Start a conversation about how it matches the pacing and vibe of the writing.
As you create your new homeschool routine, know that it will take a few days for everyone to adapt and get used to it. New routines can be hard to stick to, but with a little practice your family will find the right rhythm and be happier and healthier. And give yourself some slack if it doesn’t always end up so well: you are going to have good days and bad days, but hopefully with time it will get easier.