School at Home: Week 1

Whew! I’m sweating just thinking about this school year, and I don’t even have kids. As a former teacher, I know the breadth of the responsibilities you now shoulder if you have kids at home doing online learning, plus you know, navigating family life during a pandemic.

Without a physical classroom, children will lean on caregivers for the emotional support and structure that are key to learning.

Here’s a teacher hack: Use the first week to set the stage for a year of learning. Teachers spend it identifying student needs, learning and practicing healthy routines/habits, setting and communicating expectations, and building relationships. Academic learning comes second.

You can apply these teacher hacks at home as well.

  • Center on Needs: What habits or routines can your family develop that will meet your children’s needs? Needs of you and other family members? Remember access to food, safety, and shelter, and minimizing stress are foundations of learning.

  • Set a Schedule: When do you have lunch/snacks, play breaks, reading time, homework time, social time, etc? What break time activities will be most beneficial? You may need to consider your own work schedules while doing this as well. Write it down and post it somewhere central. Use pictures for pre-readers.

  • Keep It Positive: What is your child doing well? Tell them frequently. What makes your child feel successful and positive, and how can you help create that state of mind? Do it regularly.

One routine that offers structure (and improves academic performance) is independent reading. Reading before online class starts may help transition into school mode. Consider establishing a habit of reading a fun book while while waiting for the next thing to begin or the teacher (you) to be available.

Your student doesn’t read independently yet? Set up the Tumblebooks website or app, listen to audiobooks on Libby or Hoopla, or check out an audiobook on playaway or CD. Or, have siblings read aloud together. Looking at pictures also counts as reading.

You can also request a book collection tailored to your readers through Books for You program and use them as your home classroom library.

Want to further support your children’s literacy beyond what’s being taught? Common Sense Media offers discussion questions for books and in depth reviews. Check out additional educational resources on our A-Z List of Resources for kids.