With thousands of schools closed in response to the coronavirus, parents throughout the world now suddenly find themselves in an emergency homeschooling situation.
You didn't sign up to be a teacher, but now you find yourself filling that role, and, to make matters worse, there's no headteacher you can send them to, no teacher's lounge where you can catch a break and de-stress, and no way to suspend or expel your little angels!
Trying to homeschool your kids can be challenging at the best of times, but in the current climate of social distancing, it can be even more stressful.
But, you don't need to break out the wineglass just yet.
We've got you covered.
Here at Cazoom, we've compiled a handy guide of the top tips to help you homeschool your kids without the hassle, even if you're working from home full-time.
So sit back, take a deep breath and read on...
1 - Understand the Difference Between Homeschooling and Regular Schooling
Normally you drop your kids off at 9 am and pick them up at 4 pm, so that's 7 hours with professional educators that now you're supposed to fill?
The last thing you should do is try and recreate the school environment at home.
Schools are organised as classrooms full of kids with different levels of ability, but you're only going to teach your own kids. And it's that quality one-on-one attention that makes homeschooling much more efficient. In short, your kids will learn the same material much faster.
Also, when you homeschool there's:
- No school run
- No time spent dealing with unruly kids
- No time wasted moving from one classroom to another
In fact, on average homeschooled children spend only 3 to 4 hours on actual schoolwork per day (or about 20 hours per week), far less than the 35 they spend in state schools each week.
So, by focusing on quality teaching instead of quantity, you can give your kids a great education in a fraction of the time.
2 - As a homeschooling parent, you're in charge.
There's no rule book that says the school has to start at 9 am or be held between Monday and Friday.
In fact, there's nothing to say that school has to happen on weekdays at all.
There are 168 hours in a week, and, as long as your kids get the hours of tuition they need, it doesn't really matter when that happens.
So, instead of worrying about how you're going to fit your schedule around homeschooling, focus on how to make homeschooling fit your schedule.
3 - Work out Your Schedule
If you're not careful, that flexibility can be a trap leading you to keep putting things off until you find yourself in a tight spot. The simple answer is to plan a schedule so you get everything done.
And, yes, planning a schedule means actually writing it out, not just thinking about it for five minutes while you're in the shower.
With your finished plan, you'll know:
- How much time you need for work
- How much time you need to spend 'in attendance' teaching your kids
- What your kids are learning
- How they're progressing
- If anyone else can help take up the slack (partner, spouse, etc)
Also, your plan will give structure to your kid, so they know what to expect. Changes to routine can seem confusing. The clear structure will help combat that.
We recommend teaching lessons of 45 minutes or less, just like at school. That seems most effective for maintaining interest and concentration. Aside from that, it's up to you.
And remember, your schedule is in your hands. You can change it if you need to, but it's a lot easier to adapt an existing plan than recreate it on the fly each day.
Bonus Tip:- Work out your plan as a family. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your children why they're being homeschooled and to ease their concerns. Also, if they have a say in your plan, they're more likely to stick to the rules.
4 - Use the Learning Resources Available
To save time, we recommend using the learning resources that are already available, rather than creating these from scratch.
First, contact your child's school and find out what they can offer. Some are providing remote lessons, others are passing the essential work through email or other online methods. Whatever they can give you is a great starting point, even if it's just a copy of the curriculum.
But, if you're not one of the lucky ones, don't worry. There are plenty of pre-existing resources available to you.
Simply look through your child's curriculum, identify the topics they need to learn, and then narrow your online search for resources to teach these specific topics.
For instance, if you want to teach your child the quadratic equation, you can quickly get up to speed using:
- Online websites like Bitesize
- Youtube videos
- Or our quadratic equations maths worksheets
5 - Focus on Independent Learning Activities
One of the keys to effective homeschooling is understanding that active teaching time is only a small part of the teaching process.
Instead, a lot of time can (and should) be spent on independent learning activities.
Your child learns best not from an hour after hour of lectures, but by discovering, exploring and practising the ideas they've been taught. This solidifies their knowledge and also helps flag up any areas where their understanding is lacking.
Another benefit is that independent learning activity, like essay writing, reading textbooks, and completing worksheets, leave you free to work.
Of course, in some subjects like maths, the scope for independent learning is limited without worksheets, and creating them from scratch is time-consuming.
That's why we at Cazoom offer a complete suite of maths worksheets for all secondary school students, with answers, so you can keep your kids busy learning for hours, and mark their work in seconds.
6 - Give Your Children Productive Activities to Do Outside of 'School' Time
You're only going to be homeschooling your children for 3 or 4 hours a day, so what are your children supposed to do while they're cooped up in the house beyond this?
The temptation will be to give in and allow them to play Xbox or Skype friends, but its best to limit this screen time or direct it toward something educational.
Variety is the key to keeping your children happy and productive, and, luckily, there are plenty of options, including:
- Listening to educational podcasts
- Watching documentaries on Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Exploring the subjects they're passionate about
So now you know what homeschooling looks like, how to create a schedule, and what your children should focus on.
Last but not least, remember to cut yourself some slack.
While you may be supermum or super dad most of the time, you and your kids are only human and so you may stumble trying to adapt to the new routine. Also, don't forget other parents are facing the same dilemma, so reach out for support and share your experiences on social media or the phone
Finally, remember that Cazoom offers a selection of free maths worksheets arranged by topic and secondary school level, which can help your child progress in maths and buy you some extra free moments.