With nearly every state closing schools across the country to combat and slow the spread of Covid 19, many parents suddenly find themselves in an unanticipated situation. Without a choice, your kids may suddenly be at home for the next 6 weeks. So now what?
As a public school teacher turned homeschooling parent, I wanted to share a simple list of tips, ideas, and resources to get you through the next six weeks. You CAN do this!
If you do nothing else during this time, I encourage (beg!) you to enforce reading time. Read to your child. Read with your child. Make sure your child is spending time reading every.single.day.
Reading is the single-most important thing your child can do during this time away from their teacher and classroom.
Here are some links to my favorite book-list blog posts:
100 Best Chapter Books Published in the Last 10(ish) Years
100 Chapter Books You Must Read To Your Children
100 Picture Books To Read To Your Children
I hear from many parents that their kids simply do not enjoy reading. If your kiddo is a reluctant reader, there are alternatives to traditional books/chapter books. Consider having your child read graphic novels, cookbooks, magazines, instruction manuals (especially if this is for a craft/kit/etc), travel books, guide books, nature books, etc. If it has words to be decoded and understood – it’s reading!
I also encourage you to expose your kids to a variety of genres during this time. Encourage the reading of both fiction AND nonfiction books.
I love the biographies produced by the Who Was…Series. Consider having your child read one of these short biographies and have them write up what they learned.
I also want to encourage you to read TO your kids during this time. I’m currently homeschooling an 8th grader, 6th grader, 3rd grader, and 2nd grader, and we still do read-aloud time every.single.day. And you know what? It’s one of their favorite times of day. All of them. Story is powerful, and something we never outgrow. No matter how old your child is, I really encourage you to read to them. Use one of the book suggestions in one of my posts above, or pull out a book that YOU loved as a child.
“So please, oh please, we beg and pray, go and throw your tv set away! And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” ~Roald Dahl
Writing is so important! (And writing is different than handwriting!) During this time away from school, here are some fun and easy writing ideas:
- Keep a daily journal
- Write letters
- Google “Daily writing prompts” for kids and provide your child with a creative writing prompt each day
- Ask your child to make a list (grocery list, Christmas/birthday list, time off bucket list, etc.)
- Come up with a fun story starter, and have your child finish it. (Ie – I never expected to find a dragon in my backyard. OR When I opened the front door, I saw a shiny golden box. When I opened the lid, I found…)
- Do sensory writing! Take a simple subject like the flowers on the table or the sandwich you ate for lunch and have your child describe what they can see, taste, touch, smell, hear, and how it makes them feel. This is a great way to practice using adjectives and descriptive language.
- Create a recipe! (As a bonus, these are usually pretty funny.)
- Check out a wordless book from the library and have your child write the words to the story.
- Have your child write a retell of a story they know well.
Admittedly, math is still not my favorite subject – and I’ve been homeschooling for five years, and used to get paid to teach children math. However, having your child work on their math skills while not in school is CRITICAL. I notice a difference in retention and understanding after taking only a few days off. Here are a few of my favorite math websites:
Xtra Math – Online timed math tests for + – x / : My third and fourth grader use this site every day.
www.coloringsquared.com : This site as TONS of color by number pictures featuring current characters kids love. The kids solve math problems to figure out the correct color for each square. My kids LOVE these pictures and frequently ASK for them. (They did today!)
www.twinkl.co.uk/offer :This site (which offers a LOT more than just math) is offering a free one month membership to help parents dealing with the Covid 19 fallout. There are TONS of great resources on this site to print out and use – listed by grade level.
There are also SO many fantastic math games out there! I wrote a post awhile back featuring some of my all-time favorites. (Plus, playing games a as a family is great way to pass the time you may be stuck inside!)
Must-Have Math Games for Kids and Families
STEM (and STEAM!) skills are so important! You don’t have to be an engineer or a scientist (or be particularly good at science, art, or math) to help your child continue to develop these skills during this break. Here are some easy STEM ideas:
- LEGO challenges (Ask your child to build specific items, etc.)
- Art kits! (There are SO many kits under $10!)
- Make Oobleck
- Find a fun science kit online. Most kits include everything you need to do a handful of experiments!
- Go on a nature walk. Look for animal tracks. Look for bugs and birds.
- Research what you can plant in your region in early spring, and start a garden. (Bonus if your kids can observe the growth and journal it!)
- Do origami
There are THOUSANDS of easy and FUN STEM projects out there. From building catapults to making film canister rockets to making Borax crystals – there are lots of ways to keep your kids busy.
Get your kiddos outside and moving. Take walks. Ride bikes. Jump on the trampoline. Play kickball. Play 500. Get the basketball and play HORSE. Find the tennis court in your town and teach them to swing a racket. Walk the track at the now empty high school. Play on the school playground. Do yoga videos on YouTube. Hike. Have FUN!
Genius hour is something many classroom teachers have adopted. At its core, genius hour is a chance for kids to explore a topic or learn a skill of their choosing. They select a question they’d like answered (Ie – What can I learn about Ben Franklin? What is coding? How can people improve memory?) or a skill they’d like to learn (Ie – Knitting. Playing guitar. Making macarons.) Your kiddo then does the research, gathers supplies, and works towards whatever question or skill they’ve selected. This at-home time could be ideal for your child to explore a passion or one of their curiosities they may not have time to otherwise.
Need more resources? Check out the Learning Activities Tab on www.chasingsupermom.com! There are 10 years of ideas posted!