The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in almost every area of our lives, grinding the economy to a halt and putting a stop to our educational system. Of course, as homeschoolers, everyone else's new normal — being thrust into the role of at-home educators — is the old normal, at least when it comes to being our kids' teachers. That's why we're in a unique position to offer a few tips on helping your children make the most of these extraordinary circumstances. Here are a few of the most helpful.
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1. Create a Structure
Experts say implementing a daily routine helps kids (and adults, for that matter) deal with the uncertainty and anxiety that times like these can foster. You'll want to set a time to wake up, a time to eat and a time to start lessons and you'll want to stick to it. Many parents find it useful to have a physical schedule, whether it's on a whiteboard, a printed piece of paper or the family's virtual calendar. Others choose to use a timer to keep the day from getting off track. Here are some more detailed pointers on creating an effective homeschool schedule.
2. But Stay Flexible
A little bit of routine helps us accomplish goals and stay on task. Too much routine is jail. There's no perfect answer to striking a balance between the two. Some parents might find it helpful to schedule plenty of play and free time without organizing or directing it. At first, taking those reins off might lead to some bored, or even destructive, moments. In time, though, this freedom can help rekindle a passion and reignite imagination.
3. Encourage Passion Projects
Now's the perfect chance to funnel all that extra downtime into something your child's passionate about. Maybe they want to hone their muffin baking skills or shred on the guitar. Maybe it's building a roller coaster in Minecraft or perhaps it's writing the great American novel. Passion projects work on so many levels: they bring joy, they kill boredom, they connect kids to the broader world around them, they invite new friendships and they help kids see that learning doesn't have to be a chore. And, if they love doing it, you won't have to push them into it.
4. Allow Time for Processing
We don't yet know the long-term effects of Coronavirus school closures on students but one thing is certain: our kids are constantly processing and internalizing this experience. Finding healthy ways to do this is an educational experience that's just as important as any textbook subject. This might mean encouraging them to keep a video diary or their experience, helping them express their feelings through art or having family sit-downs where you discuss the emotions — negative and positive — that you're all going through.
5. Make Use of Resources
There's no shortage of homeschool resources out there, and that's more true now that we're all in the same boat. These resources include lesson plans you can implement at home, web-based courses from major schools, ideas for creative playtime, free virtual concerts and plays, online museum walkthroughs and games that inspire learning. There is so much out there, in fact, that it can get overwhelming. To not get bogged down, try to stick with what's working for you or what makes your child's eyes light up.
The beautiful thing about times like these is they inspire resilience and show us what we're made of. Yes, they're tough, but they also create beautiful moments of togetherness, love and creativity. Take a deep breath. Throw out the idea of perfection and focus on those moments.