A few years ago in British Columbia? There was a province-wide teacher strike. For months, the government and the teachers were unable to reach an agreement that would allow the teachers back in school. For the children, that meant that half a million school children remained home for the first few months of the school year.
For me and other homeschool parents, this is not a new thing. But teaching children at home may have been a new and possibly overwhelming situation to many of those parents who were suddenly teaching their elementary-aged kids in their home. Whether you were brought to homeschooling in such a dramatic way or you are just beginning, here are some essential tips to help parents get started.
Tips for Teaching Children at Home
- Make games into educational activities. Add questions, spelling words or math problems to get a little bit of practice in while playing a game or running around. Games make learning fun.
- Don’t try to recreate school at home. You will all get frustrated and overwhelmed with a formulaic schedule, especially since you don’t know when or if you kids will be going back to public school.
- Let kids be kids. Learning is important, but enjoying the extra time with your kids can be a blessing too. We don’t know what the long-term repercussions of the delayed school year will be, but putting undue pressure on the kids to make it up themselves will only add to the stress for all of you.
- Follow their interests. Find out what they are interested and then figure out how to make it an educational opportunity. If your first grader is fascinated by policemen, for example, explore what policemen and other community helpers do. Learn about maps by studying your local community. Take an interest in sea turtles the same way: find ways to make it a social studies and science lesson! Find literary and mathematics activities with similar themes to keep kids interested.
- Organize group learning opportunities. If you are feeling overwhelmed, your friends are too. Start a book club, a LEGO building club, a science experiment club, a geography exploration club. Switch homes and leaders to take the pressure off of yourself.
- Visit the library and read a lot of books. If you are concerned about your children’s education, pick up a book right now and read it with them. Even if a child can read fluently, reading together with them will help them develop a better understanding of the concept, as well as enjoy bonding time with you. Ask them questions as they read to test comprehension. Keep the dialogue open with your children.
- Be flexible. Stress can run high when you are with young kids all day long. (All parents know this after having them home all summer!) Give kids a break time each day, follow their lead, and don’t try to expect too much of them. Learning at home is not the same as learning at school. Make sure you get your personal time each day too.
I don’t live in British Columbia, and I’ve never even been to Canada. But, that said, I was once a reluctant homeschooler. I hope these tips and the teaching ideas listed below can help parents continue their children’s education at home for the time being.
Looking for ideas for Middle and Upper Grades? Visit Six More Summers for a link up for older students!