As parents shelter their children from breaking news and caution-taped play structures, they struggle to work from home, balance the budget, hide their anxiety and replace school curriculum and social stimulation - sometimes for several of their children in various grades.
Sandra Wilson, educator, writer and founder of the Kindness Kangaroo Project says, as a parent who homeschooled for over 14-years, she has a lot of experience to share.
“It doesn't have to be stressful, show them how to find out information for themselves, which is a major skill to have,” she adds, “it’s also ok to show our children that we don't know everything.”
Wilson says her desire to homeschool came from the fact that her son was shy and had a fear of crowds. “We decided not to send him to school right away and I started homeschooling. He thrived so much that we just kept going,” she recalls. Her two sons have since moved on to college.
What are the benefits of a homeschool environment?
Two main things to consider - when a child learns in a 1:1 environment, they will learn much easier, and much quicker than they will in a classroom environment. This means they will actually get ahead rather than fall back. Also, you are the expert on your child, so you can work the lessons in the best way to suit your child, your family and your situation.
Is there a specific formula we should follow as a homeschooling parent?
If your child thrives on a schedule, make sure to have a schedule. If you child has limited focus, plan activities in smaller chunks. The best way to benefit your child's education is to discover what their learning style is and then present the information in that style.
How should a typical day look?
My first son really enjoyed reading and doing research and could easily sit in our classroom all day. My younger son could only manage about 30-minutes so, we had to interject more physical activities throughout his day. Learning doesn't have to be a worksheet scenario. Play board games, watch videos and have discussions around them, study nature, explore properties of water etcetera. On average, my boys did work no more than two hours a day. The rest of the day was filled with independent learning, researching a topic they really liked, reading, physical education, life skills, and outdoor exploration.
How can parents make up for the time they have lost this year in a classroom?
Even though your child spends all day at school, they are not learning academics that whole time. There are breaks, the lessons have to be presented for a larger group of children, there are disruptions etcetera. When you teach your child at home, they have a chance to have better focus and will therefore need a lot less time to learn. Also, make a habit of including learning in your day to day parts of life. If you go for a walk look for shapes, colours or discuss signs of spring, chlorophyll, and insects. When you are cooking, go over measurements, discuss acids, bases, and where the food comes from. By providing an educational environment, your children will automatically learn.
What educational applications, websites, and tutorials can parents use?
Scholastic has a great tool to help find out your child's learning style.
Teacherspayteachers has some amazing worksheets and activities for all grades.
BrainPop offers some cool learning videos.
Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents has some great articles.
“The Kindness Kangaroo Project has me visiting classrooms, and other groups of children, so that we can create books together,” said Wilson. Themes include inclusion, acceptance, friendship and kindness. You can find her books and more home education tips on her website