Since many people have turned to homeschooling during COVID-19 quarantines, Standish Writes is providing a homeschooling tip every day. While these are by no means an exhaustive resource, they should help you out if you do not know where to start.
We ask you to look back to your school days, or to a time when you were new to something and uncertain of your role. Make no mistake, your child is uncertain now. Their routines have been pulled from under them, and they are about as focused as they normally are during a long break from school. When you learned something new, did you have clear instructions or were you expected to figure a lot out? Did you have a consistent schedule or did you show up each day with no idea what would happen?
Most people, and particularly children, prefer to have clear expectations that come with a routine. Since your kids will be at home, the routine will be different from school, and likely a bit looser and more play-based. Below are some things to think about when setting expectations.
Did you know that most adults do not stay focused for even an hour at a time? As adults, most of us can refocus our attention as needed. Children, on the other hand, will need help. Below is a chart of typical attention spans by age, from the Brain Balance Centers blog.
- divide activities into shorter sections
- stop and stretch every 20-40 minutes, make up silly stretches and dances
- create little challenges
- pretend you can’t do something to get the kid to “help” you
- have 2 recesses during the “school day” for at least 20 minutes each
Time Spent Per Subject
The time you spend on each subject is largely based on children’s attention spans, and on how much they are learning. As a general guideline, elementary schoolers will spend 15-30 minutes on each subject, middle schoolers will spend up to 45 minutes on each subject, and high schoolers spend less than an hour per subject.
If your child really likes a subject, or struggles with a subject, spend a little extra time on it.
Note that each subject will have more than one lesson. I have broken down some ideas for lesson structures, based on existing homeschool or school plans:
Writing: (20 minutes to 1 hour)
For young kids, drawings and pictures are as much a part of their writing as the words. Preschoolers can do writing, but will likely tell their story with pictures, and maybe one or two words. Have them put their name on their work to practice writing it.
- Free write for 5-10 minutes. You and the kids just write whatever you feel like, such as poetry, stories, argument, diary entries, etc.
- Have a stretch or bathroom break.
- Show them exmples of a new concept, such as how to end a sentence for young kids, how to construct an argument for any age, or how to develop a character in a story. Check local curriculums or pick something they have not learned. If you pick something they have learned already, they can review it.
- Have them practice the new concept with you once.
- Have them write or work on a piece of writing. Encourage them to use the concept you taught.
Math: (30 minutes- 1 hour, possibly broken up into 2 sessions per day)
- Create games using math facts, such as playing card games.
- Play games using math skills, such as board games.
- Make games active. For example, turn the whole room into a board game, with kids as game pieces.
Reading: (30 minutes)
Choose a book that teaches about a science subject, a moral lesson, a life skill, or is set in another society or culture. Include counting, math, or colors and shapes for very young kids. Pick different formats, such as novels, short stories, poetry, newspapers, online articles or blogs, or informational texts such as science articles.
- Look at vocabulary and pictures in the book, or have an older child look at the vocabulary and pictures themselves.
- Make predictions based on context like the cover, pictures, etc. For young kids, focus on a specific type of context.
- Read the book, story, chapter, etc, aloud or have them read it on their own
Social Science – history, social studies, geography, politics, etc. (10 minutes-45 minutes)
Do a current event once a week, at least. Choose one that is age-appropriate.
- Find a current event.
- Discuss the title and pictures to make a prediction.
- Read the current event.
- Discuss the implications.
When you teach geography, include information about the culture, politics, and history to make it relevant. This will help your child remember it.
For other social studies subjects, choose books and teach them as part of Reading lessons. Talk about the people involved in historical events. This helps your child empathize with them to develop emotional intelligence, and also helps them remember the events.
Science (15-45 minutes)
- Start with something interesting to explore. Base it off your child’s interests.
- Ask a question.
- Have the kid plan how to find an answer. Guide them by asking questions or making observations.
- Build something or create an experiment to find an answer.
Art (15-30 minutes)
Some days you may teach a new skill for drawing, painting, sculpting, or other art projects. If you do not feel comfortable teaching a new skill, have your child pick a project and do it. Try to switch mediums, so some projects use paint, some use pencil or colored pencil, and some use clay or even play dough.
Have a junk box day when you collect random objects from around the house and turn them into art.
Music (30-60 minutes)
If they have an instrument from band class, have them practice with it. Otherwise, pick a famous musician or composer to read and write reports about. Give a format for the report, such as a list of things you want included. Always include an Introduction and Conclusion. Have them research online and talk about the effect the person had on the genre.
You can also teach music theory, even if you do not know much about it. The resource links below should help, but you can sign up for online classes or play online music games, also.
Lesson Plans for K-5 grades: Try These
Lesson Plans by Age Group: Try These
Physical Education (60 minutes)
Pick a game and have them play it. Games with rules and teams help them learn social interactions. Games with strategy are good, also. The most important thing is that they spend most of this time doing moderate exercise. Start each day with stretches, yoga, or calisthenics.
Technology can be included in every aspect of what you teach. Have them look up information in both books and online articles, and use apps on a tablet or phone if you can. Your local school may provide resources for people without internet access.
The Remaining Intelligences
Beyond the core subjects, remember that children are also learning social skills, emotional intelligence, inquisitiveness, and many other skills. Incorporate a sense of wonder and imagination into everything to develop spiritual intelligence, and have them help with everyday activities around the house as a break from more structured learning.
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