Have you thought about homeschooling your child? Here are things to consider and how to prepare your home for teaching your child.
You may want to ask yourself,
Am I prepared to be a homeschool parent?
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, you may have gotten the unexpected call to assume the role of a homeschool parent in lockdown. It may seem like a daunting mission.
But in fact, being home to teach your preschooler or kindergartner may be the best thing that could happen to you.
Bear with me when I say this: teaching at home is doable. While it will not be perfect every day, it can be peaceful and calm without the chaos. Your homeschool will run like a well-oiled machine if you will set all these parameters in place right from the very start.
PREPARE YOUR CHILD
We were all affected by a lockdown. Your child misses their friends. There may be less space for them to move around. The routine is different.
In short, everything has changed. Thus, it is important to include your child for the changes that will happen.
How do you prepare your child for homeschooling?
- Have a family meeting. Always be watchful of your choice of words. Bring them to a level that they would understand. Stay positive and empathize. A two year old can handle a simple one-on-one talk in a few words.
“From now on, Mom and Dad will stay home with you every day.”
Now, as they get older, you can add a few chosen phrases:
- What to expect: “We need to stay home so we can be safe”
- WHY: “There’s a virus that will make us sick.”
- EMPATHIZE: “I know it will be hard for all of us.”
- RESOLUTION: “But we will work and learn together.”
- ASK FOR INPUT: “I need your help to make our home a good learning environment. What do you suggest?”
2. Set up a routine and stick to it. For example, if your child gets up at 8 every day to go to school, then don’t let them sleep in until 10 just because it is easier.
I also know that some children have a difficult time transitioning and may resort to meltdowns. My advice? Just keep a tab on your expectations and know that everything will take time.
3. Set realistic expectations and don’t sweat the small stuff. Children will follow through with what is expected of them when they are given enough time to reflect on what is asked of them. Often, they are eager to please the adult in their lives. That’s why it is wise to talk about changes before they actually happen.
4. Be patient. Remind yourself that this is a change that is unexpected. It will not be perfect every day. Even Alexander can have a terrible, horrible, no good, bad day!
PREPARE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
I compare preparing your homeschool environment with heading to college.
First, before moving to college, you visited your dorm to figure out the layout of the place. You measured the room. Then, you made a long list of items you need and planned where the study table or bookshelf will go.
You’ve planned this way ahead of time and setting up a homeschool environment is not any different.
Likewise, it is necessary to accommodate the needs of your child. You need to have the space — not just the dining table — to call your child’s learning environment. Let’s look at a list of my recommendations.
How to plan your space for homeschooling
1. Set aside the toys that already exist and get rid of the toy box — the one that opens on top and has everything stuffed inside.
Yes. That one. Empty the contents and put all toys in a cardboard box and store it in the closet bench.
Do you see how deep it is?
Can a two year old really reach a toy in the bottom of the box?
Does your child know what the contents are without dumping everything?
2. Take 5 toys a time and rotate weekly.
Then, put the toys equally spaced on a low shelf for easy access. Sort toys and put them together as a set.
Use baskets or trays so that your child can visibly see the work that you have set up.
3. Use small rug or mat just for the toys.
No rugs? Use a towel and lay it out on the floor dedicated for work or play. Your child should roll the rug or towel at the end of the day.
Establish a rule that no toys should be left for the next day. A space should be dedicated for quiet work; the TV room is not included in that space.
How do you prepare yourself for something that you don’t know? How do you prepare to be a teacher? Certainly, it’s going to be a challenge. That’s why it’s important that you take control of the situation at all times. You need to be firm. Your four year old will attempt to manipulate you to change your rules in their favor.
How a parent prepares for homeschooling a preschooler
1. Set up rules ahead of time.
Give a list of expectations. This would mean involving your child by asking what are the rules in the classroom and how it can be done at home. If your child can write, let them write down the rules.
If not, write down all your child’s thoughts and ideas and post it on the wall. Then, read the rules before you start homeschool.
2. Know when to change roles to assume the role of a teacher.
It would be safe to assume that your child will not know the difference between you as a parent and you as a teacher.
I remember vividly when my daughter was in my class as pre-schooler, she would call me “Ms. Myla,” but after class she would search for me and go, “Where’s my mom?”
You may not be called differently, of course. But be respectful of your child’s time so they can be respectful of yours. That means you are giving your child undivided attention. You will not be accepting calls or making appointments during your child’s work time.
3. Take the time to sit back and observe.
I was trained not to talk during work time unless it’s absolutely necessary. It would be wise to remind yourself that it’s your child — and not you — that is in control of the learning process.
Thus, let the child hold and manipulate the material. You should not be in charge of explaining how everything works unless you were asked.
4. Prepare the materials the night before.
Like I mentioned, PREPARATION is the key in making everything run smoothly. With that being said make sure you do the following:
- Set up materials in containers, whether it’s in a tray or basket.
- The trash can should be close to your materials for easy clean up.
- The materials should be visually appealing.
- Make sure everything is in good working order.
- Make sure to only put items used for learning.
5. OPTIONAL: Dress the part.
I know this is a stretch. But I also know that freshening up and getting dressed will command respect to your child. It says that you are in charge and you mean business.
In a nutshell, PREPARATION is key to a successful homeschool or if you want start a school or a classroom. Treat it like a big event, such as a wedding or party. You plan and prepare things for months even if it’s a 3 hour affair.
In a home school, your child’s learning depends on the environment you create. It’s important to take it just as seriously.
How about you? Have you considered homeschooling as an option?