During this time of Cononavirus where the world is in lockdown or social distancing, the schools are shut down and the students need to stay home to do school, I realized I had some suggestions, advice, and ideas that might be helpful to someone else. I decided I could make a blog post so I can share the ideas, suggestions, and advice that I have gained from my homeschooling experience. The following is a list of my best tips for homeschooling. I hope there is something that will help you.
First of all, the best tip for homeschooling is to be patient and understanding. Be patient with your children, their teachers, your spouse, and especially yourself. This is a new experience for you. You didn’t have any warning or have a chance to make plans or gain knowledge or training. You didn’t ever think you would be teaching your kids at home. It takes time to learn the things you need to in order to be successful with homeschooling. Allow yourself that time. Realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect on the first day. You might never have any “perfect” days, but that is okay.
- Be patient with yourself. It is not going to be easy and it takes time to figure things out. Be patient with yourself and “Hang in There.” I have learned many things. I have also been frustrated, discouraged, angry, felt inadequate, stupid, and like I am a lousy mom and don’t know what I am doing. Many times I wondered if I could do this. Don’t be hard on yourself. I want you to know “YOU CAN DO THIS.”
- Talk to your children’s teachers. They will help you and if they don’t, then there are other people you can go to with your questions and concerns. .
- You know your children better than anyone and you have their best interests and know what they need.
- It’s okay to take a break. Give yourself a “time out”. If something is not working, then step away and give you and your children a break. There were times, (because of health or other difficulties), my children would have a major meltdown, or just couldn’t “get it” during some lessons and so we would stop and pick it up the next day. It is okay to do that.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Children need structure and routines.
- Start school work at a certain time each day and stop at a certain time. For example, start at 8:00 and end at 2:30. It depends on your situation and how much homework your child needs to complete. Some children can be done in just a few hours. If you plan on keeping a schedule and it doesn’t work out the way you plan, its okay. Don’t be hard on yourself. Some days you may not start until 10:00. It is OKAY.
- Have a certain amount of time (such as 50 minutes) for each subject, and when that time is finished, stop that subject. If they haven’t completed the assignment, then they can come back to it after they have finished everything for the day. For example, have math from 8:00-8:50, and stop doing math at 8:50.
- Use a timer or alarm clock.
- Have scheduled breaks. Have a morning break with a snack, and an afternoon snack break.
- Do what works best for your children and family. The way one family establishes a routine, may not be right for another family.
- Start with the harder subjects in the morning, when they are more attentive and cooperative.
- Mix it up. Spend time doing a hard subject, then an easy one, then a hard one.
- Have a daily self-monitoring checklist that the kids can check off when they accomplish a task.
PLANNING AND ORGANIZATION
Planning is an important part of our lives, but it is especially important when homeschooling. It is also important to be organized and teach your children to be organized and keep track of their materials.
- Have a Daily Plan and a Weekly plan
- Set goals
- Write it down
- Have a place set aside for school, but be flexible (bed, table, couch, grass, in a tree).
- Keep materials readily available–pencils, paper, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
- Make a plan for discipline and a reward system.
- Post the schedule on a whiteboard or poster board.
OTHER LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
This is a great opportunity to enhance the learning of your family and to give your children some experiences they wouldn’t normally get.
- Start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. I have a small flag that the kids take turns holding while we say the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Add Arts and Crafts. This is a great opportunity to make decorations for the house, express creativity, and work on Fine Motor Skills.
- Practice Piano or another instrument
- Learn a new instrument
- Write a song
- Have a family talent show
- Physical Education
- Make it fun
- Sports–Basketball, baseball, soccer, running, football, etc.
- Jump rope
- Exercise or Dance videos
- Make an Obstacle course from things you have laying around
- Tumbling or gymnastics
- Have an exercise jar. I have a plastic container that has slips of paper with an exercise written on them. The kids can pull out a slip of paper and then do the exercise. This is a great way to get some movement between subjects.
- Typing or computer skills. There are online opportunities to learn to type. Click here.
- Study Scriptures
- Memorize scriptures
- Practice the Young Women’s theme
- Memorize Articles of Faith
- Memorize Poems or inspirational phrases
- Footprints in the Sand
- Don’t Quit
- Gettysburg Address
Homeschooling Educational opportunities
- Memorize States and Capitals
- Educational Videos or Games
- Math Games
- Dice games
- Animal Planet or PBS kids
- Journal Writing
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LIFE SKILLS AND SOCIAL SKILLS
- Kids can learn to be respectful in the way they treat each other
- Practice appropriate social skills
- They can learn to work through things that are annoying or irritating.
- Make opportunities for children to work together and help each other.
- Learn LIFE SKILLS:
- Using tools like a screwdriver and hammer
- Changing a tire
Do your children know how to make at least one meal without a microwave or a frozen ready-made meal?
Do your kids know how to sew on a button or iron a shirt or use the washing machine?
Do they know how to wash dishes without using a dishwasher?
Another great tip when homeschooling is to have a support system. You are not alone in this. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
- talk to teachers
- Get encouragement, advice, and help from family and friends.
- Find online programs, ideas, and help.
CONSISTENCY AND FLEXIBILITY
Does that sound like an oxymoron? How can you be consistent and flexible at the same time? I have learned that the only consistent thing in life is “change.” When teaching kids, it is important to BE CONSISTENT in the rules, in the rewards, in the routine, etc. Sometimes it can be very difficult to be consistent in the things that we do, especially when raising and teaching children.
Tomorrow is a new day. If you were not consistent in the things you felt like you should have. Try again tomorrow.
Sometimes you need to be flexible and willing to change things that aren’t working. If you or your kids are having a bad day, maybe you need to just take a break from all the structure for that day and start again another day.
Also, if your schedule says your kids will do Math, then Language Arts, then Science, and History, and you discover that it will work better if you start with History. Then go ahead and change the schedule. If your kids finish the week’s worth of assignments by Wednesday or Thursday, then have a couple of “fun” days. Watch videos, play games, do puzzles, go in the backyard and set up an obstacle course.
It is so important for kids to have household chores.
- First of all, it will help you. It will take away some of your responsibility and free up some time for you.
- It teaches children responsibility and teamwork.
- Doing chores helps children become independent.
- It makes sense that all those in the household take part in all household tasks. You are not their maid or slave.
- All children no matter how old they are can do some things to help. Even the smallest toddler can fold towels or pick up toys. As they get older they can have more responsibility. Older ones can do some cooking.
- Examples of chores are:
- Setting or Clearing the table
- Sorting or folding laundry. As they get older they can do all of the laundry chores.
- Empty the dishwasher
- Vacuum the floor
- Pick up the toys
- Clean the bathroom. Young kids can even use a disinfecting wipe to clean the sink in the bathroom.
- Sweep and mop floors.
- All children should be responsible for keeping their rooms clean. Smaller kids might need assistance, but at least let them help you.
- Have a “chore time”, where everybody works on their own given chores. It may be a different time for each family. Maybe before school hours, or after. It might be during school hours, or around dinner time.
- Give each child a list of their chores and rotate it. We do a month at a time. One is responsible for the dishes and clears the table. Another one waters plants, dust, and vacuums the living room. That person is also in charge of setting the table. Another one cleans the bathroom. They each help with laundry. Another idea is to have them responsible for the same chores for a week at a time or a year at a time before it is rotated.
- One fun idea for laundry is to call it a “folding party”. Everybody in the family comes at the same time and folds their own laundry. It can even be a contest to see who folds the fastest.
- You could also assign one night a week for them to be responsible for fixing dinner. This can help them learn to plan meals, budget money, buy the ingredients, and cook,
The important thing is everybody participates in the responsibility of running a household. There is less arguing and whining if everybody has a set of chores they are responsible for, and they know what they need to do. It also helps to rotate the chores so that one person isn’t stuck with the most unpleasant chore all the time.
There are many different ideas and programs you can use for incentives. The most important thing is to make sure your children are praised for their efforts. Use a lot of positive feedback.
I have used many different things over the years. One idea is to get a roll of tickets. I got a different color for each of my children. I would give them a ticket when they accomplished a task. If they did it without asking, they received two tickets. They would keep these tickets in a ziplock baggie, or a jar and they would cash them in for a prize out of the prize box.
I bought a pocket chart for each of my kids. At first, I wrote each of their chores or activities on a card. Later I made pictures with clipart for each chore. There was a ticket next to each item they needed to complete and when they completed it they would take the ticket and put it in their bag or jar. There were also several opportunities for good behavior where they could earn a ticket.
ENJOY FAMILY TIME
Homeschooling your children and having them at home all day every day provides a great opportunity to become closer as a family. Take the time to get to know them. Have fun together. Enjoy this special unexpected bonding time that you have with your family.
TAKE TIME FOR YOU
You need to take care of you. If you are physically, emotionally, or mentally ill or exhausted, you can’t help others. It is alright to take a break. It is okay to do something for yourself. It is okay to do something you want or need to do. Your children will be okay for a few minutes while you take a moment for “me” time.
- Take a bubble bath
- Go for a walk
- Give yourself a “time out.” Go in your bedroom and lock the door.
- Go on a date with your husband (it might just be a drive in the mountains)
- Call a friend and chat
- Watch a movie you have wanted to watch
- Put your feet up, snuggle in your favorite blanket, and drink hot cocoa.
TIME OUT IS NOT JUST FOR KIDS
If you feel you like you are losing your patience, or getting frustrated. Take a “time out.” Lock yourself in your bedroom and relax and breathe for a few minutes. Then get back to it.
Do you wonder whether I am qualified to give any advice and if I have had the experience to share ideas?
- Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education with an emphasis in Severely Challenged
- 11 years of teaching Special Education
- 9 Years of school at home with my children
- Daughter of an educator
- Mother and Grandmother
- 40+ years of collecting children’s books, gaining knowledge from other moms, and watching and learning from those around me.
Please comment and let me know if anything I wrote was helpful, and if you have any other ideas that can be helpful for other moms.