The further we get into distance learning, the more I find myself reflecting on elementary school and the period of time that I was homeschooled. I was home for 3rd through 6th grade together with my sister who was homeschooled for 1st through 6th grade. Here are some reflections that might help parents who are becoming homeschoolers by necessity.
Schools have rigid routines because of the complex factors of meeting the needs of large groups of humans. Your home is completely different. Find the schedule that works best for you to all be happy together. In my family, we normally started around 9am and worked hardest until lunch. After lunch, we took time for quiet activities alone and then finished any remaining work in mid-afternoon. There were days when I woke up at 6am and sat straight down to work, attempting to finish as much as possible before mom woke up. School is 8am-2pm because of adults and contracts and logistics. Your home doesn’t have this, so find your pattern and let learning happen at the time when your child is happiest.
This is a great time period for your child to learn about managing their time. Keep a task list easily accessible and go through the day’s tasks in the morning. Include family tasks as well, such as chores, instrument practice, crafts, errands and other elements of your day.
In 3rd and 4th grade, my mom wrote weekly lesson plans gridded out by day and subject. As I finished a subject, we used stamps to check off the list. If a topic or subject was enjoyable, I’d look at the next assignment and do that too. Math was my favorite subject and I frequently did a week’s worth of math on Mondays. If students have access to more than one day’s worth of work, let them carry on with interests- a luxury they don’t usually have in the classroom. Working ahead isn’t a problem if its enjoyable and your child is understanding the concepts.
Learning at home takes less time. Don’t call the teacher lazy if your child finishes a day’s worth of assignments in three hours. Schools are full of transitions, waiting, breaks, and other time-consuming tasks that aren’t found at home. Encourage the development of new hobbies during this time or add additional responsibilities at home. It is a great time to learn kitchen skills. I started by helping my mom cook dinner and worked up to cooking dinner for the family every Tuesday. By 5th or 6th grade, I was completely independent in the kitchen and continued to cook dinner on Tuesdays through high school. Not quite sure how to start? My parents started by writing all the weekly chores on pieces of card stock, putting them in a bag, and my sister and I took turns drawing cards until we each had an equal number of ways to contribute to the household.
We all have likes and dislikes. For me, math came easily, and I could work through the workbook all day. Writing was A CHALLENGE. By 5th grade, you would often find me sobbing at the table while attempting to write 9-sentence paragraphs. But where my mom had less success with me, my best friend’s mom did. If your child is struggling to accomplish assignments for a subject area, find another adult who can supervise this area or talk to your child’s teacher for support.
The theme in all of this is that you need to find the routine and activities that work for you and your family. Communicate with your child’s teacher often for questions and feedback about what is working well and what isn’t.