Updated: Mar 23, 2020
With the spread of CoVid-19 , many schools across the globe have been shuttered, leaving educators and parents wondering how to support learning at home. Maybe your school has set up e-learning, maybe they are in the process of doing so, or maybe your school/district is not providing any at home learning. Regardless of where you stand there are lots of ways to support at home learning as a parent.
There are so many resources available for at home learning. A quick search on Google, Instagram and Facebook and you'll find many Apps, games, websites, TV shows, Youtube channels and worksheet/lessons plans. A starting place for those who are interested includes
Ontario's Learn at Home site (mostly videos), Teachers Pay Teachers which has tons of free, inexpensive resources created by amazing teachers, and Super Teacher Worksheets which has printable worksheets.
Some parents may find engagement and motivation to be the most challenging part. Whether your school has provided learning materials or not, if you are struggling with engaging and motivating your child, and want to encourage learning at home, here are some tips.
Whether you are following a structured schedule or not, it's important that your kids know what to expect each day, including any learning. Routines create predictability and help kids feel secure in knowing what to expect. There are many schedules being shared on the web, which is great, but they may not work for your family.
Last week, we fell into the following routine:
- Wake up, eat breakfast
- Play or educational activity
- Dog walk (1 hour outside time)
- Free play or educational activity
- Dog walk (1 hour outside time)
- Dinner/Movie (order changes daily)
We are not following a structured learning schedule, but we have a to-do list of activities for each day (see Everyday Activities).
I have not been a stickler about TV or electronics and we are using a lot of educational apps (Prodigy, Starfall, RAZ-kids are all favourites over here). Finding your family's routine is important but should be flexible, include your child(ren)'s goals and ideas, and can change from day to day depending on what you have to accomplish.
This is an uncertain times for all, and if your child is feeling any of the things we as adults are feeling, a level of control, can go a long way. By providing kids with choice, not only are they more motivated to do the task, you are giving them a much needed sense of control during this crazy, scary time. It can be as simple as "It's time for a learning activity, do you want to do reading or play a math game?" or a list of choices they get to choose from each day. You can also give choice in the order that things are done. Some children need to get their energy out before they sit and do educational activities, other need it after, or sandwich the learning between two preferred activities. Let your child choose what activity they want as a reward/reinforcement after. Use First, Then or timers to help structure start and end times.
3. FLEXIBILITY IN FORMS OF LEARNING
I can't stress enough how stressful this time is for everyone. And one thing that has been so important in our family, is flexibility and family time. My son especially has been asking for 1-1 time with me, and I am trying to give each child 10-15 minutes each day to connect, with no expectations around 'learning'. The truth is, there is a lot of valuable learning going on during this family time, and it's ok to be flexible in what we consider 'at home learning'.
- Board Games mean learning about rules, numbers and counting, strategy, being a gracious winner/loser, and teamwork.
- Building with blocks or lego using visual spatial skills, creativity, imagination and problem solving.
- Baking and Cooking require following instructions and measuring ingredients
- Even watching TV or read a book you lead to exploring the topic further, asking questions and discussing opinions.
Academics are important, but formal learning can wait until things are back to 'normal'. Flexibility in what 'learning at home' means can take the pressure off of feeling the need to teach a lesson, and have your child complete a work.
Parent's most important job right now is to create a sense of calm, despite the feelings of worry and uncertainty we are all feeling. Modelling for our kids how to manage disruptions, uncertainty and change (and the big emotions that go with it), may be the best learning of all. Don't be afraid to reach out (virtually) to the support services around you. We're all in this together!