Let me preface this by saying I am passionate about education. I love being a teacher and I truly LOVE my students. I take my job as an educator very seriously. Right now, the worry about my students’ ability to still learn from a distance keeps me up at night. The entire country is in the same boat, yet each school and every family is left to navigate this on their own. No one signed up for this and no one was prepared for it.
I have been a formal educator for nearly 15 years. I have worked with children of all ages and abilities from various backgrounds in a wide range of subjects. I tell you this not to brag, but to provide a context for my experience-based advice below.
First, keep in mind that this is NOT homeschooling. It is CRISIS schooling at home.
Homeschool parents spend months researching and preparing, and they have a vast network of academic and social support.
Parents who have recently been thrust into crisis schooling must deal with stress and trauma: the stress of being responsible for their children’s education while also worrying about their safety, finances, and the future of their own jobs; the trauma of their children grieving for loss of personal time with friends, daily routine, predictability, and security. This is hard – and not because you are doing it wrong, but because it is all just too much to deal with at once.
Be kind to yourself. You do not need to be perfect. This is not a competition.
The entire world is going through this right now. While that can seem overwhelming, it should also be unifying. Everyone’s work performance will suffer. Every child will fall behind in some ways. In the coming months, we will all need to pick up the pieces and rebuild. You are not alone. So, for now, let’s just focus on today.
Some major ideas to keep in mind:
- Consistency helps students focus and learn, so start with a daily schedule. Include a choice and range of activities, build in breaks, and remain flexible to your children’s specific needs each day. You can give older kids a sense of investment by asking them to help formulate their own schedules. Parents with children of multiple ages can delegate tasks to older kids, stagger start times, set up multiple learning areas, and match the noise level of different projects so everyone is loud at the same time. If you would like assistance with establishing personalized schedules for your children, contact us.
- Even though the typical school day lasts 4-7 hours, much of this time is not actually spent learning in the traditional sense. The management of a classroom of 30 students takes time. The logistics of a school with hundreds of students is not seamless. So do not think your child needs hours on schoolwork each day. Most elementary-school kids can work on assignments for around 25 minutes before they need a break; for middle-school students, it is about 40 minutes; for high-school students, it is about 1 hour. Breaks can be transitions to a new task or a physical activity. It may be best to save screen time for the end of the day.
- Worksheets and assessments are not the only (nor the best) way to learn. If your children’s schools do not assign loads of work, it’s fine. There are other (fun and effective) ways to learn which I will list in detail by age group. But as a general rule: reading and hands-on learning are always great.
- If you enjoy teaching it, they will enjoy learning it (and vice versa). So try thematic learning: ask your children what they are interested in, and then look for books, videos, fiction, films, crafts, projects, activities, etc. to go with that theme. All core subjects of history, language arts, science, math, and art can be covered using thematic learning.
- If you have to pick, because at some point you will, choose connection. Pick playing a game over arguing about an assignment. Pick teaching them how to cook rather than feel overwhelmed that you have no help. Pick laughing, snuggling, playing, and reminding them that they are safe.
- For parents of younger children: Some days you may need to cry and cuddle your children. Others you may just need to sit them in front of the TV or tablet for a few hours to get a break. That’s life – and your kids (and you) will be ok.
- For parents of older children: Try to start each day with family time: over a shared breakfast discuss plans and feelings. Be flexible as your kids adjust to their new schedule and find a routine that works for them. This may mean they sleep late, wear pajamas all day, do their homework in bed, and then text their friends until midnight. If that is what makes them feel comforted in this chaotic time – let them. Adjust your expectations to allow time for self-care. And do not be afraid to ask for help. Our tutors are available for guidance and assistance.
Some notes about the resources listed:
- For the thematic learning described in #3 above, you can use several of the resources listed below to help you easily develop entire lesson plans around the topic. I indicated resources that are especially useful for thematic learning with [TL]
- Unless otherwise stated, assume these resources are free (some are always free; some are just free during school closures). Please keep in mind that many businesses are struggling to stay open and pay their workers. So, if you enjoy the resources and are able to donate to the organization, please do – especially at a time like this.
- For those sites that have a related app for your phone or tablet, I have added [App] so that you can search for it by name in your device store. Please note that the apps, while often more convenient, usually have more limitations of free access.
- Some activities are live streamed at certain times on certain days. I have indicated those in italics. For most of these, the videos are available at least 24 hours afterwards also.
- Hands-on learning creates stronger memories and understanding. So have your children try the activities that can be done “In Real Life” [IRL]. Keep in mind that this may mean going to a website to read about a hands-on lesson, order materials, or print a worksheet.
- Pro Tip: Put printouts in plastic sheet protectors and have your children use dry erase markers so that you can do the sheets over and over.
Note: I usually create my own content in pdf form because linking to other websites often results in unforeseeable changes like altered content, modified pricing, broken links, etc. If something I posted below has changed or is not correct, please email me so I can correct it.
PS: You will notice that my content for Students with LDs and High School students is sparse. I will keep adding to these categories when I find generalized resources. However, I truly believe these students benefit most from individualized assistance with a live/online tutor who can personalize the learning methodology to help the students become more confident, independent learners. Please contact me if you would like to discuss our tutoring options in more detail.
Virtual Field Trips
General Study Strategies
Science & Math
Math & ELA
Science & Math
Science and Math