Home-schooling family has advice for learning while public schools are closed

Posted 23 March 2020 at 9:16 am

Provided photos: Andrea Neal of Albion is shown with her daughters, Kasey and Adelynn. Andrea also is the mother of two teen-age sons, Jayden and Zachary.

(Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series on Pandemic Perspectives. Community members are welcome to send in a submission on how they are coping with the impact of the virus. Email to news@orleanshub.com. We’d like to hear from teachers, students, nurses, first responders and others in the community.)

By Andrea Neal

Hello all!  My name is Andrea Neal. I’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years and just wanted to share some tips that might be helpful and possibly encourage you.

Just like many of you, our days have been different lately, too! Normally we are more on the go and really miss seeing and interacting with our friends and family! Here are some ideas you might like to try implementing while you are home during this time.

Start your day off with a Morning Time – gather your children up along with some of their favorite quiet activities. I have four children, one might have Legos to quietly work on, another a coloring page, another may have an Extreme Dot to Dot book and another might make a bracelet or hand sew.

During this time I will choose something to read aloud to them. This could be a chapter from the Bible, a historical fiction, biography, poetry, missionaries book, fun facts of what happened on this date in 1902 (for example), a joke book, a character trait/skill to talk about mystery chapter book they really want to hear or a classic that I really think they would love.

The point is each day we read aloud and the kids can look forward to starting the day with this.  Once we are finished with me reading aloud (usually 20 minutes), the younger kids grab their own books or a book I have assigned to look through and read independently. During this time, I sit and read a book I’ve been wanting to read or just have quiet time to think. Usually the older kids will start reading Chemistry or getting harder subjects done during this time independently.

In the past when my child was not reading yet but could sit with a picture book, I would have a basket full just for that child from the library. They feel so special to be learning along with the older kids. They can grab out books, look through them quietly for 15 to 20 minutes. Once quiet time is over Math begins for the 8 and 10 year old. I have a lesson with them for the day and then they can work on it independently OR if they need help I’m there to answer questions.

Kasey, 10, and Adelynn Neal, 8, do their schoolwork at home.

Games – I know many parents are probably not into board games BUT here are some we use to have time together but also learn. My favorites for Spelling, increasing vocabulary knowledge are Bananagrams, Boggle and Scrabble. Favorites for Math are WAR (with younger kids) and Yahtzee with a little older.

Children’s Interests – Allow your children time to learn something that interest them!!! Maybe they want to learn how to make balloon animals, learn about CAD, horses, an instrument, a language etc. Maybe they want to learn how to do a certain craft project. Allow them the time and freedom to do this. This increases a love of learning and inspires them. They can do the research themselves and will learn so much!!!

If you need a break – Here are a list of some activities to keep them busy. Use learning websites like arthubforkids.com. Allow an older child to read aloud to a younger child. They might complain at first but then a lot of times feel good they did something for someone else. Or allow a younger child to read a book to an older child.

Have the older kids have a scavenger hunt for the younger kids. Both will enjoy! Get audio books or picture books with audio at the library to have your child listen to when you can’t read to them. Have them do a family newsletter. In it, each child could talk about something they learned for the week, draw a picture, or discuss a book you read. Then mail the newsletter to grandparents or friends to stay connected with each other.

Teach skills – If there is something you are gifted at. For example, you like to do yo-yo tricks. Use this time to teach your child! Maybe talk about the history of yo-yos. Use this time to teach home skills in more depth.

Maybe allow a couple kids to plan a meal and do the recipe with you. My husband and I have done our own “Chopped” home shows with the kids.  They chose a dish for us to make (pizza) and then the kids decided whose was the yummiest. Have a child work alongside you while cooking or cleaning. They feel special if they get a turn with you one on one.

If you don’t like to cook or clean than work on something else with them. Maybe you enjoy organizing or one of your children are good at it, work with them. You could teach your child how to change the oil in your vehicle or how to change a tire.

Andrea Neal leads her kids in Twister, a game that gets people up and moving.

Avoid trying to create a public school environment at home –  When I first had my children home I sat them all at the table, they had to ask to use the bathroom, get a drink, raise their hand etc. I was SO frustrated with them and myself. I wanted them to sit at the table for hours and hours because they needed to fill in the time, even if they had finished what the assignment was in 15 minutes I thought I needed to extend it to 45 minutes.

If your child gets it, finishes it let them move on! Then if a child is struggling allow them the time to figure it out and not rush them because its taking a little longer.

Do not beat yourself up if you are frustrated with your children OR feel inadequate to teach them – Remember when your children are talking back or struggling with a character /trait skill this gives you time to talk with them. Do not feel alone or think that everyone else’s child sits at a table and listens perfectly and it’s just you failing as a person. Lie! You know your child better than anyone else.

Have fun with this unique time. If the sunshine is out BE FLEXIBLE!!! Go outside, enjoy bike riding or have your kids bring chalk outside and draw pictures on the sidewalk or driveway, go on a nature hunt. There is more than one style and way to learn, you do you! Academics are important but this quality time with you family is even more important!  Take advantage of it!

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