I know everyone everywhere has been posting about remote learning and options for parents and teachers, but I've decided to still posting something to help curate resources and ideas all in one place. I hope this is helpful to anyone who reads it. I also hope that this doesn't come across as "I've figured this all out." I haven't. I'm trying something out to stay sane and keep my kids distracted.
The resources below are from a parent's perspective with an educator flair. As we begin to figure out what remote learning will look like as education professionals, I believe it is important to give parents a window into what a potential school day could look like and support parents in developing a schedule that works for their own kids. Let's first remember that not all parents are teachers and not all parents have the entirety of their workday to play the role of a teacher for their children.
Here is a step by step process that I used to prepare for what so far looks like three weeks of at home learning for my two fantastic creations.
Step 1: Accept what you cannot control
Parents and educators alike, we have to be comfortable with the fact that neither of us can recreate school. This means we cannot expect kids to follow their regular schedule or handle a regular workload in their home environment.
So...what do our kids need?
A schedule that distracts them from the reality of what we are all facing.
A routine where transitioning back to school in the middle of the school year is attainable.
An opportunity to be creative and independent.
Step 2: Build a Schedule
On Monday morning I sat down with both of my kids and developed a schedule that we could all agree to. The schedule we developed rotates for a number of reasons:
It keeps every day interesting so that at-home routines do not become chores.
Although less complicated, this schedule does imitate my middle schooler's experience and I don't want a lack of routine to prove a hurdle for him when returning to school.
I needed to think about the attention span of an elementary age kid in comparison to a middle school kid. While my middle schooler could sit down and barrel through assignments without issue, my elementary kid needed to hyper-focus on one thing at a time with scheduled shifts in the day. In other words, there's light at the end of the tunnel if she's in an activity she's not in the mood for.
At this point, neither of my kids have had much in terms of suggested or assigned work. The schedule above is thus generic enough where, if work is assigned, we can all adjust and still maintain the general flow of things.
Step 3: Decide on what each block could look like
It's obvious here that not every subject is accounted for, but I assure you this was intentional. In keeping these blocks generic, I am able to provide choice to keep my kids focused and motivated. We talked about the following options for each block:
Silent Reading Yes, we can read anything! This includes reading any of the following:
A news article: News for Kids and Time for Kids are 2 potential resources that parents can use
A book for pleasure
An assigned book from school
A textbook (hey, it's a good skill)
Math Practicing math is tricky, especially with younger kids that might not be receiving specific assignments. They can do any of the following:
Play an online math puzzle. There are dozens, here is an example of one: Math is Fun
Learn math in Khan Academy specific to their grade level. There's also a tab for parents to get started
Learn math in Prodigy Math. This looks like the Legend of Zelda, but covers math concepts from kindergarten to grade 8
Practice math from a recent assignment in school or move ahead and learn about upcoming concepts
Use math flashcards, have sibling math fact races, or create your own math game
Gym Better known as PE, I am calling it gym because I hear every day from my owns kids, "Mama, can I go to the gym with you?" Included in gym is any of the following:
Yoga - Our TV has Youtube, so we are grabbing a random routine from there and practicing together in the living room
Ballet - Bar routines are in the kitchen, and floor routines are, you know...
HIIT - We are setting up stations together like stretching, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.
Make your own dance routine (my favorite activity as a kid)
Genius Hour My personal favorite, although certainly not my invention. Assigned work from Science or Social Studies will replace this hour if needed. Genius Hours have popped up in education across the country as a fun way to inspire curiosity and student creativity. In our genius hour, we include:
Is there something that interests you? Look it up. I like typing in "Facts about Penguins for Kids" and seeing what comes up as a resource.
Write about what you learn, draw a picture, or create a presentation
Present to your siblings!
Art Of course Art is important, but I've also combined a number of other subjects into this category:
Sing to your favorite song or write your own
Practice your instrument
Draw a picture on your own or by looking up how to draw online
Build something with crafts, legos, or any other materials you can find
Writing Writing work can be from assigned work, but if nothing is assigned my kids can choose any of the following:
Write a story in a blog, google document, or on paper
Journal about your experience today
Write a letter to a family member
Step 4: Find Resources
My advice would be to keep it simple. Not every site out there will allow for parents to step back and get their own work done. If you're not comfortable, don't use it.
There are dozens of resources out there. Education today requires that we are well-versed in online learning resources for kids, but expecting parents to be able to handle this learning curve is a little silly. If you're curious or running out of material, just google it and I'm sure you'll find something offered for free for the time being.
I've linked in resources above where possible, but this is not inclusive and I am not claiming that these resources rule out others that you have found to be helpful or that your child's teacher has recommended. I'm going on no guidance and trying to come up with ideas both my 2nd grader and 6th grader can handle.
I stuck with websites that were simple and didn't necessarily require any complicated log-ins or alignment to grade level standards. For every link above, you can use the link and almost immediately have your child get right to learning.
As a disclaimer, though, dependent upon the age of your kids and their own learning needs you may need them to set up shop right next to you to be able to support them in safely navigating online activities.
Step 5: Have Fun with it!
The schedule isn't strict and shouldn't be treated that way.
I start each block with the simple question: What are you thinking about doing during this block?
So far, my kids have been pretty good about coming up with their own ideas. When they're stumped, we spend a couple of minutes brainstorming until we land on something they're interested in and they take off with it. I'm trying to encourage curiosity and independence, while also maintaining the peace enough where I can get my own work done.
Make it okay to disrupt the schedule. Breaks are okay. Impromptu hikes, family movie time, sundaes, and other rewards are keeping us all sane and motivated to maintain our schedule. We're making these decisions together and we're practicing being mindful of everyone's work capacity.
Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!