The Montfort Group

Homeschooling 101 In The Time Of COVID-19

By: Megha Pulianda, LPC & Melissa Bishop, 5th Grade Instructor

As my son ran around the house in the pajamas he’d been wearing for 3 days and the coonskin cap we bought on a family trip to The Alamo, bouncing around between Legos, video games, and the frequent shout “MAMA I’M SO BORED”; I realized that indeed, “Spring Break” (or whatever we want to call that) is over and it’s time to figure out how to get back into a meaningful schedule. Enter Homeschooling 101 in the time of COVID-19.

This time of COVID-19 and quarantine has taught me a few things: 1. sweatpants are perfectly acceptable for a Zoom meeting, 2. locking myself in the bathroom for a moment of peace really is the difference between a breakdown and a decent family afternoon, and 3. teachers should be paid a million dollars a year.

The rapid progression of this virus and the impact it’s had on social systems is unprecedented, and many parents are trying to figure out how to support their children through this uncertain time. Homeschooling is a new role that many of us are adding to our resumes, so how can we do this without creating further trauma and turmoil? I went straight to the source for this information—a real-life 5th-grade teacher. Not only is she well respected in our community, but Melissa Bishop is also passionate about supporting parents through this mammoth undertaking. Here are 5 must-follow tips for homeschooling your child.

1. Create a routine that works for you and your kids

Children thrive on routine. Before you can start to teach them academics you need to spend time creating a routine, so they know what to expect. This helps your kids know what the expectations are for each part of the day. You can find thousands of schedules for homeschooling online. Check them out, try some out, but know that you will need to tweak them to fit you and your children’s needs. Some kids aren’t morning people, so expecting them to sit down and complete schoolwork from 9-10 am won’t work. It will just cause a lot of misery, for everyone. 

2. Be flexible where they learn

Not all children learn best while sitting at a desk (or dining room table). There has been a huge increase in “alternative seating” in classrooms, over the past few years, for a reason. Children learn and are physically comfortable in many different ways. Talk to your children and ask where in your house (or even outside) they would be the most comfortable completing different tasks. Let them get comfy in a chair, or their bed, for independent reading time. Let them lay in the middle of the living room floor to complete math work. Maybe they prefer to stand at the kitchen counter while typing up a report. Letting your child have a say in where they learn will help them feel a sense of responsibility for their learning. 

3. Offer your child choices

On that note, remember that this is as stressful of a time for our children as it is for us. They are unable to see their favorite teachers and friends. They are stuck inside without a full grasp of the reason. The school routine they had grown accustomed to was taken away from them, and now they are being forced to adjust to a new normal. Ask them what they would like to learn. Give them a say in the order of activities for the day. Give them reasonable choices to create a sense of control and autonomy.

4. You don’t have to recreate “school” at home

The beauty of homeschooling is you can get really creative in the ways your children learn new skills. Cooking and baking are fantastic ways to have older kids practice math, plus they help build memories and life lessons. Taking a walk outside can be an exercise in colors, shapes, and size comparisons for younger children. If you are at home with children who are different ages, or at significantly different academic abilities, you can combine different learning skills and strategies that are appropriate for both within the same activity. There are infinite ways to learn.

5. Give yourself grace

Teaching children is difficult. Teaching your own children can be incredibly difficult. Not every day is going to go smoothly. More than likely, many days will be fraught with difficulties. It is OK, to not get it right every day. 

Remember that this too shall pass, but the memories of this time will be long-lasting. Our children are looking to us as models for coping with distress. They are learning their best problem-solving skills from us. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for connection.

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