Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Schooling From Home

It has been months since I have posted to the blog. Life hasn't been particularly hectic, no devastating illnesses, no big changes... it has just been ordinary. In light of recent events in our world I am realizing just how ungrateful I was for "ordinary". 

I am a wait-and-see type of person. I think it plays nicely with my tendency to procrastinate. But sometimes life just doesn't give you either luxury. In recent days I have heard from parents who are finding themselves thrown into a position that I miss. They have to school their children at home. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that people told me "Oh, I could never do that", and yet here we are, sheltering in place, being "forced" to learn and teach in our homes. 

School districts all over the country are scrambling to get information and plans up online but in the meantime what can you do? This was my (edited) emailed answer to a friend:

First, let me say that I envy the next few weeks for all the mamas and daddys who get to have their kiddos home. You may feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole. I know it sounds scary but really, it is a time to get to know your littles in a different way and to learn alongside them. 

If you have to come up with something for a short time, pick subjects that you know they will be interested in, like sharks or computers. You can specialize this right now because it is short-term but it is a taste of what homeschooling can be. 

Once you have your subject/subjects then go hunting on the internet. Pinterest is a good source or Google "free lessons plans for ___________". Search phrases like "free lessons on sharks" or "free printables for sharks". 

As an example you can teach vocabulary words related to sharks. Learn their classification in the animal world, binomial nomenclature and different types of sharks. You can study geography and oceans; which oceans you will find sharks in at what times of the year.  Discover where they like to dine and what they eat.  Discuss the science behind why they migrate and what happens when their food source is scare/abundant. Cape Cod is an excellent example of that. 

Find a story like The Shark Lady, which is only 23 minutes long (https://www.amazon.com/Shark-Lady-Eugenie-Fearless-Scientist/dp/B076BWCY4J), to listen to together online. For longer books, listen for a specified period of time everyday, maybe after lunch then discuss, allowing them to tell the story back to you. After discussing, have them write a brief review of the book, documenting the author, title, date they listened to it. There are printables on line they can fill out. Free book report printables:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/813040538967088748/ .

Build a lapbook or scrapbook using printables with information about what they are learning about sharks. Here are some I found on pinterest: https://www.naturalbeachliving.com/shark-information-for-kids/ or https://www.simpleeverydaymom.com/free-printable-shark-worksheets/  The scrapbook will be a reminder of the time they got to spend at home, learning beside you. 

Check web pages like the New England Aquarium. If you click on their "learn" tab for "families and teens" you can find more resources with ideas and things to do or study out. You're not limited to just the aquarium in our own backyard but you have access to the best aquariums in the world at your fingertips, in the comfort of your home.

I Googled "dissection of great white shark" and found a PBS episode: https://www.pbs.org/video/inside-natures-giants-great-white-shark/

Intersperse their math skills. As soon as a multiplication time test is done they can watch the video (as an example) or listen to an audiobook on the subject. 

If computers are of interest your child do the same thing. Maybe teach them to simple coding. Search Pinterest for free computer coding lessons like here: https://teachyourkidscode.com/free-binary-numbers-worksheet-for-the-holidays or https://www.pinterest.com/pin/566116615658686837/. Learn the history of the computers, why they were first used, who developed them. How did companies like IBM play a role. What was Prodigy? Learn vocabulary related to computers. Write small sentences in binary code. The possibilities are endless. 

When my kids were young I learned that sometimes their brains just had a hard time focusing. They have to get the wiggles out! A friend taught me, by example with her children, to send those kids outside to run around the house 10 times. Make it a race, everyone gets some fresh air, it expends energy and connects them to something other than your four walls. 

Don't worry, parents. You can do this. Who knows your children better than you? You are being given an incredible gift. Start your mornings curled up on the couch together. Pray, read some Scripture and let them know that you are not worried, God is still on his throne. Let them hear you thank God for this time as a blessing not an inconvenience. Homeschoolers who do this as a way of life and those of us who were retired from homeschooling by the fruition of our work are praying for you.