Homeschooling during a pandemic is tough – much tougher than most of us thought it would be. Homeschool is not for everyone and if you are homeschooling while trying to work from home it is next to impossible. Keep pushing. You can do this.
1. It’s not just you
I want to point out that burnout is a real thing for professional teachers. It begins in April but burns strongly in May. Teaching is exhausting and it is hard for teachers to keep themselves motivated at this time of year too. Summer break is tantalizingly close but there is still so much school left.
No matter how much it seems like everyone else is doing a great job, let me remind you (or inform you) that they aren’t. I was a teacher before I stayed home full time. I do not have to juggle a real job with real consequences if I don’t get my work done and I totally burned out already.
It began right after spring break. I just couldn’t get motivated like I had been before. I have had to really push and I am going to end school a week earlier than my school district’s schedule. I just can’t do it anymore.
2. School doesn’t have to be about “facts”
Pick a game and play it. Playing games is a fun way to engage yourself for an hour but it also has lots of benefits students need to be successful. Cooperation and teamwork, negotiation, or even dealing with disappointment and loss. Playing cards is an opportunity to work on dexterity (for younger students) as well as working towards goals and strategizing. (Read Five Benefits of Playing Cards in Class)
Guess Who helps students narrow down facts and information to discover an answer.
Battleship is practice with grid points (a math skill).
Monopoly is strategy, math, and economics.
Trouble is a great way to introduce strategy to younger learners.
Zingo is a fun way to practice early reading skills.
Boggle or Scrabble is great for spelling or vocabulary work.
I haven’t even mentioned the limitless amount of card games you can play either. Don’t feel bad about it. Your student is still learning but just something different. AND THAT IS OKAY! What’s important is your students keep their brains engaged.
3. Let Your Student Decide the Direction
There have been plenty of days that I just wasn’t interested in teaching. I let my child pick what we did. It always surprised me. My child actually does like learning and pretending he’s in school so he often chose actual school subjects but that doesn’t mean your student will.
Maybe it is as simple as they want to color. Let them. Start an art gallery on your refrigerator or wall and explore different artists and art movements. Perhaps they want to play with Play-Doh. Do it. You can have them mold the Play-Doh into letters or numbers. Have them make shapes to incorporate some geometry.
Let them read a book to you. Do they like writing? Write a story and possibly have them illustrate it. If they love Minecraft have them design a house on paper then challenge them later to build it in the game. This bit of advice may cause some dismiss everything I’m saying but many parents right now are describing the experience as survival. If you are surviving, don’t feel shame about having your students design their Minecraft houses.
4. Use your own interests
If you like Star Wars then study planets and the stars. Create a solar system with your child. Invent your own Star Wars adventure with your student.
Is Harry Potter your thing? Have a Potions Class and study chemical reactions in the kitchen. Wet ingredients to dry ingredients do what? Baking soda and vinegar is always a winner.
I have no shame in saying I let my child play SimCity and call it educational. He learns about city planning and what elements are necessary to have a safe and clean city. He likes to destroy his creations with the natural disasters. These are all talking points too. We’ve discussed what the world would be like with no garbage pick up or if sewers didn’t exist and different places have to worry about natural disasters.
Like being outside? And you can? Then go. The amount of research that shows how much better being outside is for your body and brain is ridiculous not to mention it will tired your child out. Let them run and jump and play. When you can, look at the leaves on trees and see if you can identify them. Bird watch. Get some sidewalk chalk, trace their shadow in the sun then return a few hours later and do it again so they can see the difference.
5. Spending too much time with your student?
I flat out tell my oldest that I need to be by myself. That is part of my personality though – I love alone time. I tell him it is time for quiet time and he goes in his room for the allotted time. He’s used to it so it doesn’t matter to him to be alone in his room for two hours. Start with 20 minutes if your child(ren) aren’t accustomed to it. Just tell them that you need to be alone and that alone is a good thing for them too because it is. (I’ve done this with my toddler too and he doesn’t care at all if he’s in his room for a few hours.)
Independent play is actually a crucial developmental element and this is an opportunity to practice it.
Need more alone time? PBS. I always recommend it over Netflix, Amazon or Disney. The shows are created with childhood development in mind rather than entertainment. The shows emphasize calmness, independent and creative thinking, and often strive for mindfulness and kindness in their messaging.
During the day, PBS shows a variety of shows and you can always access the shows online. It is also available on streaming devices.
If your child is a bit older they may prefer some of the slightly older shows like Martha Speaks, Word Girl, SciGirls, Wild Kratts, or Arthur.
PBS also has a game app with TONS of games based on their shows. Some may try to shame you for screen time but again, most of us are just trying to survive. PBS is a better, safer option.
Keep going. You are not alone and most of us are failing. What’s important is that we stay positive and keep trying because our children are seeing that. Take a deep breath and push forward. This will not last forever. Stay safe.
To explore game options in my TpT store, click here. I have tons of games for a variety of ages.
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