I'm taken aback by the number of schools closing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. I'm not here to discuss the merits of it but to sympathize with the new situation many of our families and teachers are now in. This is going to be a period of transition for many families, and I want to help in any way I can!
As a public school teacher for 15 years, I never thought I would have to teach my own children at home. However, due to some personal reasons, that has been our path for right now. I wanted to share a few suggestions for families and teachers who are now trying to navigate this tricky dynamic based on my own experience.
1. Make a Space
Whether it's a desk, a table or an entire dedicated place, set a place to house all your school materials. I tried having it on shelves and being super organized. That lasted about a week before I went crazy. It made sense to just leave it on the table and come back to it.
Our stuff is in the dining room. It's a central location, safe for eating, and I can send the kids there to work while I do other things if necessary.
2. Make a Schedule
Most schools require teachers to post a schedule for students each day. This is because our kids thrive on knowing what's going to happen during the day and need to have a specific routine in place. While there are several options for making a schedule, a visual schedule is handy for younger students. Think about your day and jot it down. (And yes, I included the clutter in this picture. I wanted you to see real life!)
3. Make a List
Who doesn't love the satisfaction of crossing tasks off when finished? I have found that making a list of all the things we will do today and setting them on the table has helped us stay focused. My kids erase it or cross it off when finished.
4. Take Breaks
If you have ever worked with me, you know I stress allowing students to take breaks. Kids have an attention span of only a few minutes. During the school day, they get to talk to other students and move around.
When working from home, I literally have my kids work no longer than 15 minutes before taking a break. (This can be adjusted per the age of the student.) I set a timer for 10 minutes and let them have free time. Yes, this makes school take a bit longer, but they are coming back ready to go.
5. Get Outside
I'm so thankful that it's springtime, and we can actually get outside. Even as a classroom teacher, I used to take my students outside with their books and journals. It was amazing how they became invested with a change of scenery.
This article from Harvard Health states that kids who play outside take more risks and improve executive functioning. Let's not forget to mention the health benefits from Vitamin D to boost those immune systems.
6. Enjoy Learning Together