When my kids were younger, they were at a very unique sort of open school. They wanted to go to a public school, but at first, they didn’t like it. So I did a ton of reading on homeschooling and did some, too.
A lot of people here are homeschooling now, during this pandemic, because they have to be. I wanted to share a couple of things from experience.
1. Kids are natural learners. It’s not necessary to be as formal as you think. Most of your “schooling” can easily be done sitting at a table with them and talking about things they are interested in. Don’t think this is beyond you. It’s exactly what parents do.
2. Let them sleep in. It’s ok. Kids are not naturally morning people. Let them help set the schedule for when you get together and talk about the world and ideas and learn things together. Sometimes 2 days on, one day off, or some other schedule like that, can work fine.
3. Don’t think this has to be a full School day. One on one, elementary-age children only need 1-2 hours of schooling a day. Middle school can be 2-3 hours and high schoolers 3-4 hours. No one should be at a table for 6 hours.
4. Loose, comfortable clothes for school time work well. Not pajamas maybe, but not outside clothes. They should feel relaxed and able to focus
5. Talk to them about what they want to learn and work on. They may have ideas. If you have magnets with subjects you can put on the fridge, let them choose, week by week. The more they think this is their project, the more engaged they will be.
6. Remember that reading, writing, math, and science are everywhere. Science class can be cooking one day. Math can be playing grocery check out (one apple slice cost 4 raisins) and casino the next, writing class can be writing and presenting reviews of tv shows you watch together. You know what your child loves and you can use that.
7. Make fun milestones when you can. You will look up educational standards and prepare for testing, etc, but that’s not what keeps kids going. Cookies that say “math expert” go a long way toward that.
8. Many card games end up as pure reading exercises. Games like Magic, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh require extensive reading and logic skills. If you get to know them, you may find they are amazing tools.
9. For middle school and up, an hour of reading every day is great, anyway you can do it. Many parents find that treating this like a book club with their child works. Read independently and then share what you think. Don’t be afraid to say you hated the book. And let them hate it, too. There is always another.
10. Learn with them. You can grade yourself every day, too. And if your child has to stand on one leg and read a poem they wrote, it works well if you do, too. Remember that when you were younger, the cool teachers exposed their own joy when they taught.
11. Be kind to yourself and laugh a lot. The goal is to get your child to be a forever learner, someone who thinks of learning as fun and continuous every day. Don’t let the day get frustrating. If it’s not working today, that’s fine. Let it go. You have a lot of days
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