How to Ace Teaching At Home Without The Blues

I understand that parents were shoved into teaching at home and a lot of us are feeling a bit of resentment. That’s okay. You don’t have to feel guilty about feeling bad about teaching your kids. Distance learning can be a bit of a pain. We, as parents, need to create meaningful and effective at-home learning opportunities during the pandemic. We all know it’s hard and messy and will require equal parts patience and tenacity.

So, while it’s here, it’s probably a good time to get down and try to be at least adequate. That’s setting the bar low but well get there. I know I did. When I started homeschooling my eldest, everything was in shambles. We argued 90% of the time and I went from being too strict to too lax,

Here are few things I learned from Homeschooling. These are by no means, a step by step solution but some basic principles, that can give a sort of structure to your days when the module is getting the best of you and your kids are either being too reticent or totally escaping from your grasp. It can make your days more productive and with less stress for both you and the kids. These are some basic principles of teaching so as parents you don’t always have to feel like your drowning.

Create a learning space.

Not a lot of us have the capacity to have a big open learning space for the kids. But with a bit of creativity, we can create flexible learning spaces. or flexible classrooms. You can provide your kids with a choice on where or how the student can set up”camp”. When students can tailor their space to their work, the research suggests that they feel more engaged and are more productive, so encourage the kids to move the furniture and props to fit their learning needs. 

For the kids who tend to gravitate to the couch for studying, set clear rules and boundaries for the students. They can use the sofa when studying modules or watching materials on the net for example, but use the table for answering quizzes and writing. Create a balance of comfort and structure so your kids can learn and study comfortably.

Ask the kids how they’re feeling.

More than you, the kids probably feel uprooted with the drastic change in studying. So I know it might sound corny but do check in with kids everyday and ask how they’re feeling. Ask in the morning, ask in the afternoon. Vary the question so you don’t feel weird, nor the kids. Just like, how was school, it can create more nuanced responces if you asked for example, “Which emoji best represent your mood today?” Or, if you used a color, what best represent your feelings today? Your child might be upset, or lonely, and its best to deal with it or they just wont be as productive learners as they can be. Decades of research reveals that a sense of belonging, well-being, and connection is a crucial precursor to learning. Check in here to read more. You can also have your kids reach out to a classmate and engage with them thru available technology to keep your student connected to other young learners.

Brain Break is key.

Brain breaks ensure that the kids brain can process what they learned and put the important information on their memory banks. I know that the modules are overwhelmingly long. My kid in Grade one can hardly finish her module for the day if we take lots of breaks but I belive that this is essential. It also helps cheer them up with a quick Youtube or a quick game. Generally, younger students need more breaks but older ones also need them. Research shows brain breaks improve attention span. Breaking your lessons into smaller, more manageable chunks helps students focus. Older students need breaks every 20-30 minutes to maintain focus and energy.

Your class, your schedule.

We all know that schools have a rigid schedule. Here’s something I learned while Homeschooling. It’s okay to let your kids wake up late and start late. Don’t stress on it. It may feel like you’re throwing discipline out the window but our target here really is less stress for you and the kids. Besides studies have already proven that 15% of people are what you call “larks”. They wake up really early and perform best in the morning. Another 15% are really “owls” who perform best late during the day.

The rest fall in the middle. So there really is no right way to schedule your kids learning. Do what feels right for you and for your kids. You’ll find that there’ll be less hair pulling with this outlook. Besides that, it can also mean that you’re studying with your kids at their peak when they can better memorize and retain their learnings. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises starting an adolescent’s school day no earlier than 8:30am. 

Choose effective learning over rote memorization.

The voluminous learning materials that one has to go through with our Module Based learnings is enough to go into a rote memorization route. Unfortunately, retention is the first step of learning. Effective learning is about making a new meaning out of this random information and consolidating it through reviews and quizzes, or through multi-sensory practices like drawing, composing a song, or building a model about what has recently been learned. In a homeschool setup, this is what we do. There’s also a discussion part, and some writing and composition-though my eldest hates writing. There’s even better success at doing these at home because the kids are more relaxed and don’t feel like they are being graded in a discussion.

Passive practices such as re-reading or rote note-taking does have a role but it should only be done when you have more time. Also, when learning at home, kids tend to learn from each other. An older sibling might teach the younger ones. Many studies reveal that teaching what you’ve learned to someone else—to a parent or to another sibling—is also a highly effective way to consolidate learning and making it stick. It works because teaching something requires that you master all the nuances of the topic.

Deepen learning with a productive struggle.

Research shows that when students solve problems that are challenging, but still within their abilities, they deepen their learning. Allow students to wrestle with problems before intervening. It gets thrown about a lot that with the current Module Learning, it’s the parents who are answering the quizzes themselves. It’s kind of a joke but I actually do see it a lot. Not only are the parents more competitive but impatience and probably stress over time and schedule are pushing them to just give the kids the answers without letting the kids struggle. Letting them figure out the answers and letting them know that they have the time to figure out the answers also teaches the kids not to be risk averse and encourages them to try new and challenging things. Let your kids push themselves without pressuring them to always do better. Praise them for their hard work and not for being smart. I believe that praising hard work is more effective for building endurance and tenacity.

Integrating learning with play (and even housework!)

It’s probably time to admit it. This is going to be the new normal for a long time. Some of you might not have sat down and planned for teaching at home for the long term. A lot of us are doing this for compliance. And the kids have this mindset too. They do their quizzes and they’re done. Try and integrate passions and fun. Use school at home as an opportunity for deeper learning where kids use their environment to explore different subjects. And here’s where you can have fun as mom. Make them do housework. Lol. Household activities like cooking or organizing offer the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills. Other activities like music, art, drawing, and dance are also highly engaging activities that improve language skills, mental focus, empathy, and creativity.  

Feeling more confident yet?

I know that in the hustle of academic work and the wish to comply with the arbitrariness of the Module Learnings, you probably think that this is too much. But sit down, check your modules in advance, sit with your kids and figure it out. It will be better in the long run, I promise you. Lest we forget to let the kids breathe and stress out yourself in the process. If you’re feeling bad about something and feel like it’s affecting the way you’re handling your teaching duties, take some time out. Have a break. (Have a K—)

This article is designed for moms who have no outside work. It assumes that you have time and resources to take control of your kids learning. It’s may be a bit presumptuous. If some of it made you feel left out I apologize. If you have work outside the house, have some kind of problems and struggles that can’t get solved by merely taking a break or walking out, I understand the feeling. But don’t get frustrated. We’ll figure it out.

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