As a result of the Coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic, around the world, many schools are closed and kids are now home “distance learning” or on “home-based learning” programs. Some schools closed so suddenly, that there is no program in place and kids are just at home with nothing to do and parents are finding ways to homeschool on their own. Here in Singapore, the government is just testing out the Home Based Learning (HBL) system, but soon this too may become our reality.
If you are lucky, your school already has some form of distance home learning set-up and your kids are studying away, however this still might not be enough. As result of the virus, I know some kids (like those in Hong Kong) have been out of school now for many months now, and the last thing any of us parents want is for our kids to fall behind during this time. Do not fret, SuperMommy is here to help with some tips and guidelines to get your organized and keep your sanity while trying to educate & engage your kids all at the same time.
The KEY to distance learning during Covid-19 is trying to formulate some type of structure and normalcy at home, even when the rest of the world outside is going a bit crazy. Remember that homeschooling is only temporary – this is not your full time job and you do not need to be perfect at at – let’s just get through this.
We all have different living situations and home environments, so some of these suggestions might not work for you but hopefully you can get some ideas based on what you read and get a system in place for your own home.
Here is an easy Step-by-Step Guide to help you with homeschooling and/or home based / distance learning. Good Luck!
Step 1: Get your kids excited (or least on the same page) for learning from home.
Getting your kids on the same page as you is the most important part of home based learning.
No matter how much you plan, if your kids don’t cooperate – it just won’t work. Be open & honest with them. Let your kids know what is going on in the world and why they will be studying from home. Make sure they understand that this is not a holiday – work must continue, even if it is from home. Explain that you also have a job to do from home and that they too need to study from home every day. Remind them that you are just a temporary teacher, but they need to listen and follow what you say during these times, otherwise they will fall behind.
Get your kids involved from the start – You are a team.
Get your child involved from the planning to the execution. Make sure your kids understand that you guys are a team and are united in this together. Work side-by-side with your child to do steps 2 thru 8 below.
Create an incentive system.
What does your child want that he/she does not already have? Is it more video gaming time, a special treat, an item that they have been eyeing or whatever else you can think of. Use that as incentive if you have to in order to get them follow the learning schedule. Only reward them at the end of the day with points until they earn enough for the incentive. Again remember, that homeschooling is not permanent, just do what it takes to get them go study.
Be firm with the schedule from the start.
If your child refuses to learn or do the school work, then you need to be firm and not give in (especially at the beginning). If this means punishing them by taking away things & privileges, then do it (even if it causes you grief). Your kids need to realize that this is serious. Do not let them walk all over you.
Step 2: Find a space for Homeschooling
Locate the place where the learning will occur.
If possible, this should be in a quiet area with a lot of light. This will be the place where the majority of the school work will occur. Try to make the space as distraction free as possible. You can have your child help pick the perfect space. In order to avoid conflict, try your best to separate siblings so that each one is studying in their own space.
Set-up a “learning environment” with a desk & chair.
Setting up a proper learning environment at home is crucial. If you do not already have a desk, chair & table light at home, try to buy a cheap one online. Alternatively, you can use a folding table or the dining table. Make sure you also have a footrest to avoid dangling feet (an old box or stack of books will also work great).
Step 3: Organize all your learn at home materials
Have a designated device for your child.
Designate a device that has access to the Internet for your child. This can be their own device or a parent’s device (iPad, laptop, desktop, phone etc). Make sure it is available for them to use during their home based learning time. If this is not available, make sure you have a lot of educational workbooks that your child can use to study at home.
Make sure you have a good home WIFI connection, or data plan.
This is important if your school has a distance learning program in place and your child is required to log-on, email or participate in conference calls. You will also need this if you plan to access any online educational websites to supplement your learning.
Make sure you have access to a printer.
If you are doing home based learning or distance learning, having access to a printer is important, but do not worry if you don’t have one, you will still be able to manage. The teacher will often send assignments that require students to print things (like math problems). However if no printer is available, just have your child hand write or type the assignment. This will be good practice for them to work on their cursive and typing skills.
Have a full set of school supplies handy & ready to use.
Paper, pens, pencils, eraser, sharpener, tape, stapler, art supplies, notebooks, rulers, compass, calculator, graph paper, etc – you should already have most of these things at home. It will just be a matter of hunting it down and putting / organizing it all in one place. This will make it easy to get assignments done without having to waste time to search the whole house to find what your child needs.
Buy extra workbooks or print out worksheets to supplement the home learning.
In addition to the home based learning that is provided by the school, you should prepare some extra non-screen assignments for your kids if time allows. These do not have to be purely academic, you can do a variety of flashcards and activities.
When in doubt, have your kids do a research presentation. You can either print off worksheets from the Internet or go online and buy some educational materials, alternatively if you are still able to leave your house and are not on full quarantine or lock-down, go to the local bookstore to see what they have. If you are unsure on what to buy, get a multi-subject workbook like Brainquest.
Step 4: Prepare Your Child’s Device for Home Based Learning
Download all the required school apps and/or bookmark the websites and organize them in one folder on the device.
Find out from your child or their teacher the names of the apps that they use daily at school. This may also include Zoom, WORD, Google Docs, Google Classroom, and any other tools or online applications your school uses.
Create a separate folder for “additional” academic apps.
Create a special folder on your child’s device with all the “extra” learning apps.There are so many education based apps out there and many of them offering free subscriptions and trials during Covid-19. You can use these apps to supplement your home learning.
Step 5: Come up with a Home Learning Schedule
Know your child’s school schedule.
Have your child write down or tell you their schedule, including lunch and recess time. Use your child’s current schedule to come up with your own home plan and include all the subjects like art, science, history, etc. Try to follow your child’s school schedule as closely as possible and incorporate a variety of subjects into the day. Your child will be going back to school soon, so it is good to have the same routine in place at home.
Supplement your child’s schedule with your own home distance learning schedule.
If your school does not have a full day of lessons planned, then you should try to supplement the school day with additional learning materials of your own. This can be a combination of online materials, projects/presentations and physical worksheets. You want to make sure that you don’t have idle kids (especially if you also have office work or housework that you need to do while at home).
Make sure to schedule in lunch, snacks & recess.
If you are following your child’s school schedule, you should take scheduled breaks similar to what they do at school. For recess time they can play outside (if you have a backyard) or do something active (non-screen related).
Keep the learning schedule visible at all times!
Tape your child’s home learning schedule to their desk – they should be able to see their schedule at all times. This will help them stay on track and be focused. Make sure you also have a clock or watch set-up on their desk for your child to check the time.
Get creative with your home learning.
If you are in doubt of what to do for a specific subject (like art, music, science, or history) and there is no plan in place, get creative and come up with your own. It does not have to be overly academic either – just make sure they are engaged and learning during the allocated time slots. When in doubt, assign your child a research project / presentation to work on for that specific topic.
If you are unsure about what to do, just assign different assignments from online apps or multi-subject workbooks also look online, many teachers are posting daily video lessons on YouTube.
Here are some easy ideas without putting in too much extra effort:
- Math – Do a variety of math problems,or practice for standardized testing (lots available online).
- Reading & Writing – read a book and then write a book report or do an oral presentation.
- Science – do a science experiment with things from your kitchen or learn the periodic table/anatomy
- History – assign them a topic (any topic, it doesn’t matter). Have them research it and do a report.
- Art – color, paint, draw, sketch, make a collage, use slime
- P.E. – do a physical activity (this can also double up as recess), dance, yoga
- Music – if you have an instrument, have them play it, otherwise they can learn about and then listen to some of the great composers.
- Foreign Language: If your child is taking a foreign language that you do not speak, try to incorporate a combination of written work/flashcards, with some conversation. The conversation portion can vary each day from kids reading out loud, listening to books on tape, as well as watching YouTube instructional videos. There are many services that provide online foreign language tutors – however if you don’t want to spend the money, YouTube also works great (just make sure to find the right videos).
Step 6: Get into School-Mode
Wake Up Early.
Set a morning alarm and have your child wake up at a scheduled time each day. Your child should do what they normally do in the morning to get ready for school, this includes showering, washing their face, brushing their teeth, etc.
Have your child eat breakfast at the dining table or anywhere in the house (except for their study space). This will get them up and ready for the day.
Get dressed for school.
Even though we are all at home, make sure your child gets dressed for the school day. No pajamas allowed! If your child wears a uniform to school, you should consider having them put this on during school hours (this is what we are doing and it works).
Step 7: Start Home Learning
Now you have two options on getting started, either option will do, just do what works best for your family:
(1) Jump right in:
If your kids are already used to studying at home, or if you are an “in the closet tiger mom (like me)”, your kids probably will be ready and willing to do this without giving you any trouble. Just follow the home learning schedule you made and have them stay on track.
(2) Take it slow.
Not all kids are ready to jump right in for a full day of home learning, whereas some others can just jump right in. If your child is giving you trouble, start with a few hours each day and gradually work your way up to a full school day 8:30am – 3pm. Keep adding on increments of 30-45 mins extra per day. It may take some time for your kids to cooperate with you, just stay calm and keep trying your best.
You do not need to teach, just make sure you are there to facilitate.
Not all of us were born to be teachers! You can still effectively home school your kids for a few weeks / months without actually having to teach them on your own. If you can’t get a hold of your teacher or a smart friend to help, when in doubt Google, use a calculator or read books to find the answer! Most workbooks or online guides have answer sheets as well – use these as much as you can.
Step 8: Create a Child Support Group
Have your child create a group with their friends on Zoom, WhatsApp, iMessage or any platform they choose.
Schedule times where they can chat with their friends or do Zoom calls after school times. This can actually be used as an incentive for them from Step 1. Your kids can send selfies of themselves studying and exchange home based studying stories.
Tip for parents: Make sure that the friends in the group are also have an organized home learning schedule in place, otherwise this might actually derail your child’s studies instead of helping.
Step 9: Create a Parent Support Group
Create a distance learning support group with other parents.
Coordinate a WhatsApp group with a few parent friends in the same class or grade. This way you can ask each other questions during the day regarding assignments or get help as needed. This will also be great motivation for you to “push” your kids to do extra work – a little competition never hurt. 😉 Everyone around the world is going through this together and it is great to have some friends to talk to.
Step 10: Take a deep breath – You can do this!
Yes, you can do this!
Just follow all the steps above and you will be ready.
Do your best to make it work.
I know these are difficult times for all of us. If one day, you just can’t get your kids to do any work, its OKAY – it’s not the end of the world. Let them just watch educational TV instead – even us parents need a break once in awhile!
Take a few deep breathes and keep telling yourself this will all be over soon!
Remember the goal is just to keep your kids on track and not fall behind! Fingers crossed, they will be back in school with a certified teacher soon!
Stay healthy, stay home and stay safe! Try to laugh once in awhile, be calm and remember we are all in this together!
If you are still looking for things to do during your time at home, check out my article on 100+ Things to do on Home Quarantine Instead of Watching Television!
Please feel free to leave me a comment below if you need any advice, want to add to something helpful to the list or just need a place to rant about your home learning experience! GOOD LUCK!