April 09, 2020 - Thursday
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Homeschooling tips in the time of COVID-19

March 26, 2020 - Thursday 4:03 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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Parents have been plunged into homeschooling since we were placed on community quarantine a week ago to avert the spread of COVID-19. I added my insights to the homeschooling tips initially put together by my good friend Leny Ojaño-Yusay who is also the founder of Teen Homeschoolers of the Philippines (Teen HOP). To the “suddenly” homeschooling parent, here are ten tips that may help you get the rhythm of your new normal.

 1. Get to know your child. You and your child have had a routine with school and after-school as a main part of it. Use the days of quarantine and your home-based education to get to know each other again and get connected in a new way. Don’t talk about academics all the time. Talk about your child’s interests as well, how he/she feels about this new normal, ask for his/her ideas about how to make the most of studying at home. You can be honest in saying that this is your first time to be Teacher Mama and his/her ideas would be of great value in making your homeschool awesome!

 2. Make sure you have your bases covered. Communicate with your child’s school and teacher. Ask for the time line and due dates of the requirements so you can apportion your days and work out your family calendar.

 3. Have a growth mindset that requires you to develop a different way to learn and have a homeschool experience where it benefits you and your child. Homeschooling is what you make of it. Reach out to your friends who are already homeschooling. Ask help from them for tips and practical ideas. Check out online resources, FB groups, websites, articles, and blogs about homeschooling that will give you ideas on how to teach certain subjects or how to homeschool in general.

 4. Have a routine established at home. When you talk about a routine, it is something that provides structure, system and security in life. This is something that will help our children feel safe in these uncertain days. When you establish your routine you can think of what you need to do on a daily basis so that everyone’s needs are met and the things that must be done are accomplished. We are talking about both the schooling of the children and the workload of the parents. Identify the blocks of time and the activities that the children can do independent study (work they can do on their own) and those times that they will need Teacher Mama’s supervision. The time when kids can do things independently can also be the time block that mom and dad can attend to business matters or work-related concerns. Identify the subject areas that need parental supervision. Then discuss, which of the adults at home can handle which subject area. Example, mom can teach Language Arts, Filipino/AP and History, dad can handle Science and Math. If there are other adults at home (i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles), ask if they will be willing to share with the teaching load. Ask them which subject they feel confident teaching. Homeschooling, after all, is a family affair. Schedules need not be set in stone. Best if your schedule is flexible to avoid frustration.

 5. Make sure you make it interesting! Find the joy of learning and be curious again. Learn together. Vary the activities and modes of learning so that your child does not lose focus and interest and get distracted. Worksheets and textbooks need not be the only resource and answering them need not be the only activity. You can enrich a lesson by doing more research or integrating art. Older kids can check out online resources such as Khan Academy for math reviews and tutorials. Be open and let your children be creative in their ways to express their learning. For small children, read aloud or let them narrate or summarize to you in their own words what they have read. Allow them to paint/draw what stood out for them in the story you have read. For older kids, have them choose how they would like to summarize their learning. Some may want to create a visual map, write a personal essay, or create a poem. Make sure it also ties in with the objective of their lesson.

 6. Have lots of breaks in between. Allow them to stretch, take a short walk around the house, play a bit with their pets, play their musical instruments, fix their own snacks, or have them do small chores.

 7. MAPEH classes should not stop at this time. Playing musical instruments can actually be part of the daily routine. They can do hymn/song study and focus on songs that give hope. Play them in the house as the quarantine period tarries. You can do picture and artist study. Have the children read about the artist’s biography and famous works. Study the artwork and sketch it. Let the children exercise. They still need to spend that energy or they will be lethargic. If you have space, let them run around the house, do some exercise routines and dance at home. MAPEH is important to help maintain mental health.

 8. Make it intentional. Have a goal at the end of the day what subjects or topics to finish. If they have projects, artwork, or essays to do, include it in the collection of learning outputs to be submitted. Be organized by setting aside a box to put all the finished work. When it is time to submit them, you do not have to scurry around the house looking for these things.

 9. Take care of yourself. It is very stressful for your entire world to change abruptly. It can be stressful to have the kids home all day, especially when you are not used to it. Teaching your kids and hearing them grumbling daily can be stressful as well. You might even be wondering if you are doing a good job as a parent/teacher. Remember, you are not alone in this. Many of us are doing the same thing that you are doing now. And we will overcome it. So, when the days are dreary and the homeschool is starting to become a fight club, step back. Have a break. Give the kids a free afternoon. Give yourself time to breathe and go slow. Make yourself a cup of your favorite drink. Eat that cake in the refrigerator. Sniff your relaxing essential oil. Take a nap. Do some much needed self-care. And when you are more at ease, go back to homeschooling with a better mood and a fresh perspective.

 10. Have faith. I have been homeschooling my kids for eight years now. My son is in Grade 9 and my daughter is in Grade 6. It was not always easy and there were many times I wanted to quit. Once when I was so ready to throw in the towel, in between sobs, I came across this verse: “All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13). I realized that I am not the only one educating my children. God loves them and cares enough to train them. Ultimately, he is my children’s teacher. And all that is happening in their lives is part of the discipline that will raise them into the kind of persons God wants them to become. This is true for you, as well! God loves your children and he loves you! He is, afterall, our Heavenly Father. Thus, he is also homeschooling us. Perhaps, this time of quarantine is our Heavenly Father’s way of training us to become the better version of ourselves so we could be the best parents to our kids. Let us be at peace knowing that as we give our best in educating our kids at home, God will hear our prayers and bless our efforts.

 We are in this together! Many homeschool communities and moms have put online resources to help “suddenly” homeschool parents like you. Our team at Arrows & Quivers have put together what I call “guerilla” videos on Youtube that give practical tips on how to homeschool. The videos are not professionally done but given our quarantine circumstances, we tried to offer our best to be of help. You are also most welcome to join our weekly FB Live sessions. Just check for announcements on our FB page. Other places to get support are the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB group founded by Dr. Donna Pangilinan-Simpao and the FB pages of Laksmi Maluya (Teacher Purple Laksmi) and Leny Ojaño-Yusay (Teen HOP). Feel free to message any of us and let us know how we can help you.

 Keep calm and homeschool on!