…even if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Being a teacher is hard. Being a parent is hard. Being an automatic “home-school” parent while trying to figure out the technology and assignments from the teacher is even harder – especially if you are working from home, maybe even still working outside of the home, or managing other children as well. Things are not easy right now.
But let’s “not lose the forest for the trees”, or “major on the minors”…These sayings have rung very true for me lately, and I’m sure they have for you as well. As an educator and parent, I’ve been thinking about the stress and overwhelm that I’m hearing from a lot of my friends as they are taking on this “distance learning” thing…
“My child was already behind…how am I going to keep him up with the rest of the kids?”
“My child is so unmotivated to do this work – every day is a battle.”
“My kid is bored but I know he needs to do this work – what do I do?”
“There are so many assignments, but not all of them are graded – how do I decide which ones he has to do?”
Have you felt like this?
I in NO WAY want to diminish or negate the work that fabulous teachers are working so diligently to get out there, but I DO want to offer a little stress relief.
If we strip away everything else, there are 6 things I want you to remember that will keep your students moving forward during this time:
- We are all in the same boat!
- Read to your kids every day.
- Have your students read (whatever they want) every day.
- Practice basic math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Have conversations with your kids – A LOT.
- Have your students write organically.
Let’s take a quick look at each one of these.
We are all in the same boat. Please don’t get on social media and compare your home to others’. While some parents just seem to have it all together, that is not the norm and MOST kids are going to be getting a very “bare bones” education right now. Most students are going to be “behind” at the start of next year, but I have no doubt that our fabulous teachers will be prepared for that and ready to fill in some holes.
Yesterday, I had to take a step back. I watched several of the videos that my kid was supposed to watch, and I had to go back and explain them because he didn’t get it, and he’s a (almost) straight-A kid. He was getting frustrated because some of the videos weren’t working and others didn’t make sense. If I add to that frustration because I’m stressed about it, learning time is going to be miserable (and ineffective). Relax. Your student will not be the only kid who doesn’t get 100% of the things done and move up 3 grade levels in reading. 🙂
Read to your kids every day. If you have students that are 5th grade and below, read to them every day. This builds fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. You can even pick a book that is slightly higher than their grade level. We like to pick chapter books that my fourth grader may not fully understand if he was reading on his own. Tate went through a time period where he really struggled with reading on his own, but he loved our time of reading together. When he would make comments like “I hate reading!”, I would remind him, “No, you love reading – you just need more practice. Think if we didn’t have our reading time.” Reading to your student brings so much value, and it can become a time that you both look forward to.
Have your kids read (whatever they want) every day. Graphic novels? Yes. Magazines about cars? Yes. Lower level books that they are interested in? Yes. They are building fluency, interest and reading comprehension, even if it’s not a “passage” or “higher level” book. Don’t make this a battle. This is the time for reading to be enjoyable. They can Google subjects they are interested in and read articles online. Also, 20 min a day is plenty. They don’t need to read for an hour. If you have younger students, give them a few minutes of “book” time, where they get to look through books that they like (even if it’s only 5 minutes!).
*Reading to your students and having them read regularly and consistently are the main things you can do for your students right now to set them up for success in every other skill!
Practice basic math facts – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Obviously this one somewhat depends on the age of your students. If you have pre-k – Kinder students, practice counting. If you have younger school age students, practice addition and subtraction, and if you have older elementary students (and even middle school), practice all four math facts. Math is comprehensive, and if students can become really strong in counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, they will be able to learn the other math skills much easier! There are apps and websites for this, but you can also make flash cards for the students to practice at home (and even better – they can make their own flash cards)!
Have conversations with your kids – A LOT. Ask them questions about their thoughts and opinions. Start conversations with them about their friends, or observations about the nature around your house. Watch a funny video online, or read an article, and then talk about it. Students are used to talking their learning out with each other, and now they have you! Having conversations builds dialogue skills, helps them form opinions, and increases their vocabulary. Don’t let students just sit in front of a computer and work on work and never discuss it. Discussion and dialogue is a super important skill that students must develop – and it will be a great way to really see how your students think about topics.
Have your students write organically. What is the point of writing? To process thoughts? To communicate? Now your students can have the opportunity to do this without fear of a grade! Write letters to family members, or keep a journal and write a few minutes in it every few days. This will build the language of writing without having to worry about all of the grammar and punctuation. They will continue to learn the conventions in school, but what most kids struggle with is getting their thoughts down on paper. What a perfect time to build their skill and confidence in this area!
Learning occurs most when our affective filter is down, meaning we are not stressed or bored. What a perfect time, while your student is in his or her “safe place”, to actually move them forward academically! If you can focus on these areas, keep yourself and your students calm, I promise, you will see growth. 🙂
And if you are looking to be a little more involved with the learning process, we’ve got you covered! 60 Daily Activities for Thinking and Learning at Home! is now available for only $25! 60 hands-on, real world, FUN lessons all in one place! And we’ve made all of the lessons downloadable and printable, so you can keep them forever!
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