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Homeschooling Tips During Covid-19 for Elementary School Age Kids

Ella Herlihy

Development & Learning

Advice From a Veteran Homeschool Mom

The New Normal

As we settle into this “new normal” of managing not only our households but also our children’s school from home, we are all finding challenges. Hopefully, you are also discovering the benefits of not having to rush out the door, allowing a few more minutes of sleep, and enjoying slowly eating breakfast instead of scarfing down a PopTart on the way out the door.

Even if you love having more time at home with your young children, you realize how much energy it takes to keep them occupied and out of mischief. Having your elementary age child at home for the seven-hours-a day they were usually joyfully at school- gives a whole new appreciation for both the teachers and that yellow bus that used to stop nearby every morning. On top of that, many of you are facing unknowns in your work.  Based on the ages of your children and your home/working situation, here are some suggestions that might help as you work to school your children from home.

Flexible Schedule

Grace for yourself and for your child is crucial as everyone adjusts to this unique schedule. Twenty minutes here or there will not make or break the day. If they sleep later, they can take some of their afternoon time to do something productive. If they go over in one subject because it takes longer or because they are interested, have them do a few minutes of whatever they missed in the evening. There is no bell, so flexibility and finding what works for your family is key. That being said, having a wake-up time and a bedtime will make everyone’s life much easier and more pleasant. We all know how easy it is to be cranky from lack of sleep. Your morning self will thank you if you help your children get to bed at the same time they would go to bed if they were heading off to school in the morning. As much as you want them to be kind to their teachers and fellow students, this will be even more valuable in your own home with their siblings and parents.

Have a schedule written and posted for all to see. Hold it loosely and be both flexible and willing to adjust. Include times for waking up and eating meals that work for your family situation and when adult(s) will be home. If you are leaving children at home without an adult, it may be helpful to have them make their lunch the night before and pack it in their lunchbox, or to lay out either a menu or the items they will eat for lunch so that preparation is simple for them. You will also want to include outside play time or exercise time in their schedule. Consider having them alternate between sitting activities and times of physical activity. This could be based on completing an assignment (after you finish your grammar packet, you can play outside for 15 minutes). Or it could be time-based (after you read for one hour, you can have 15 minutes of screen time). 

School at Home

As teachers work to help students make progress with what they can do by themselves at home, school will likely not take 6 hours a day. Consider this an opportunity to allow your student to spend some of their extra time exploring areas you always wish you had extra time for. If they are interested in a subject, you might allow them some time and resources to make a deeper dive.

Gathering up the arts and crafts supplies you have or those books you always wish they would read would be a great way to encourage creativity and pursuit of subjects your child may want to explore. Scheduling an hour of free reading time in your child’s schedule will help them strengthen their reading skills and limit the inevitable screen time. For younger children, you may space it out into two or three thirty minute reading sessions. Speaking of screen time, this will be the default entertainment for many students. While watching educational videos can be an excellent way to discover a new subject or learn more about an interest, pre-deciding a screen time limit will help you as a parent navigate this season without it turning into a media binge.

If you are concerned about your child’s academic progress and have some time to engage with their schoolwork, use your home and outdoor space to your advantage. Students sit in desks at school to keep distractions to a minimum. School at home doesn’t have to mimic this model. If your child wants to lie on the floor or upside down on the couch to read or work on worksheets, by all means, let them. If they need to memorize (math facts, history dates, parts of speech, lists for science), have them stand on one foot and toss a ball while calling them out. Using blocks, loose change, Legos or anything stackable can help the hands-on learner solidify information in their brain. Hopscotch or shooting basketball is a great platform for practicing multiplication tables or other repetitive information. Make cookies to practice fractions, read cookbooks to identify adjectives, watch Schoolhouse Rock to memorize some classics. Just remember—send thank-you notes to your kids’ teachers for all they’ve done! And try not to make learning at home too much fun, or you might find yourself in the role of homeschool teacher come fall!

Check out other articles on Homeschooling Tips during Covid-19:

For Special Needs Learning

For Middle School-Age Kids

For High School-Age Kids

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Ella Herlihy

Being a mom to five children has given Ella Herlihy enough mistakes and victories to fuel her passion for guiding other parents along the road to raising responsible children without losing their minds in the process. She writes to help others learn from her many mistakes and victories, and what she has gleaned from all the books and seminars it takes to raise five children in today’s world. She is currently working on a book to encourage parents to choose to step back so their kids can move forward on the path to unentitled adulthood. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @ Ella Herlihy.