By Trevor Scott
Homeschooling is bigger than ever right now thanks to fears of spreading or getting COVID-19. But if you’re also running a small business out of your little schoolhouse or balancing remote work with school at home, here are some tips for doing both successfully based on suggestions from a former teacher, home-teacher and parents.
Do School As Early in the Day as Possible
Instead of play time or TV after breakfast, make school your morning priority before you tackle work projects. This allows your mindset and your kids minds to be more ready for learning and you won’t be tempted to spend “a half hour more” on work before you crack the books.
Some ground rules:
No big business projects before school time.
Get up earlier than your kids so you can exercise. All business owners have obligations that must be handled in the AM so do those. Then once the kids are up, do breakfast and get right to school.
Of course rules are meant to be broken and if you have to put out a fire at your business, give yourself permission. You may have to shorten the school day but think of it like an assembly or early dismissal day. Public and private schools sometimes do it and so can you.
Change Your Clothes
You don’t have to put on formal work or school clothes every morning. They just need to be clean and not what you slept or exercised in. Many people find showering in the morning creates a separation between yesterday and “the new day ahead.”
Set a School Area
This helps your mindset AND organization. When you are the “teacher,” going to that assigned place helps shift our focus from house work and business projects to teaching school. The physical movement from our home office or basement to the kitchen table or a separate room for school can cause a powerful mental change.
Organization is another reason to have a specific school area. Keeping all school-related things in one spot saves time and fussing about who is going to get the books, media and school supplies.
Timers Timers Timers!
A timer is a great way to set student learning goals.
Start with short time frames. 20 minutes is long enough for most school activities in a homeschool setting. If your middle school student is struggling with math problems turn the timer to 10 minutes to relieve stress. Then over the next few days increase the time in 1-minute increments. Or challenge her or him to complete more problems in the same 10 minutes.
Spice Up Learning With Games
Learning a concept or strategy for problem-solving can be gratifying. But using those concepts and strategies to win a GAME is a terrific way to engage students.
Now in the age of Google and Alexa, there are limitless math games available to homeschool teachers. And if you have board games in the closet, grab the dice and make up one of your own. Since many classic games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Clue build vocabulary, business and reasoning skills, go ahead and play them with your students. They can also be a great reward after a long study session.
Let Them Be Independent
Set some time each day or each week for independent learning. While it is normal to think we need to sit with our students for the entire school day, independent work teaches kids to work alone. Even if your kids won’t be returning to the public/private school classroom after COVID this will help teach them the import life-skill of tackling tasks by themselves.
Remember, the independent work must be focused on maintaining skills not learning new ones. Independent can also be a reward. You can assign your student to finish a workbook page or two… and then go play!