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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many parents and guardians into teachers through homeschooling. As a professional teacher and a parent, I still find homeschooling a bit challenging. However, these challenges are surmountable.
Here are some of the perceived challenges associated with homeschooling and the way forward:
- Plan your homeschooling activities: Planning is an aspect of your homeschooling activities that shouldn’t be ignored. Planning involves getting the needed books and stationary, preparing a timetable and either placing or pasting it at an obvious position where your children can easily access it. You can also choose a specific room or place for you homeschooling activities, with study tables, chairs, computers and whiteboard if available. Feel free to improvise some of these things. It’s important you carry your children along in the planning process by allowing them make some inputs, especially the older ones.
- Variety of activities: Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Teaching and learning is not all about academic activities. Apart from their regular academics and school subjects, include fun activities like art and craft, painting, catering, practical computer classes (Microsoft word, PowerPoint, etc),
- Prepare before the class: This is important mostly for the older children.
- Know your limits and be ready to learn: One special thing about teaching is that you learn as you teach. You don’t need to know it all before you can guide your child. The internet has made learning a whole lot easier. So, feel free to double check your lessons on the internet. However, there might still be some areas that you may find difficult, especially the calculations. There’s no harm in letting your child (especially the older ones) know that you are not so strong in those areas and that both of you are learning it together. Be realistic.
- Trust your child: I have a friend, who always reaches out to me for some clarifications whenever she has a challenge with some calculations during the homeschooling process. In most of my interventions, the child gets it correctly while the parent doubts the answers. You need to trust your child, especially if the area concerned is not your strength.
- You can make mistakes: Give room for mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up when you get it wrong. Learn from the mistakes and move on. Also, encourage your child to do same.
- Give age-appropriate activities: The age of the child matters a lot because it also determines the child’s attention span and capabilities.
- Age-appropriate teaching method: As a parent, the method I employ in teaching my 3 years old child is obviously different from what I use for the 9 years old. For the younger children, mostly between 0 and 5 years old, you need to be more patient, add lots of fun and be ready to tolerate some distractions in between your teachings.
- Be firm but flexible: I hope being firm and flexible doesn’t sound contradictory. Children will always want to size up your firmness by trying to have their way. The more you allow them to have their way, the less likely they keep to your instructions. For example, my children know that nobody watches cartoons or games until all academic activities and chores are completed. So, be firm but kind.
- Motivation and reward: Everybody needs one form of motivation or the other. However, the younger the child, the more the motivation. When they complete their tasks, reward them with things like their favourite cartoons, games, craft work, etc. Also, you can temporarily withdraw some of these privileges from them till they complete their tasks.
- Review you work: Do a periodic review of your homeschooling. Know what works and what doesn’t. Improve on your approach.