As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect schools around the world, many parents are faced with the daunting challenge of continuing to homeschool their children through the school year into 2021. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, this means your regular responsibilities may be put on the backburneras you concentrate on your kids’ education. Although you may be getting ample support from your children’s school, many parents understandably feel unprepared for their new role as a teacher. So, we’ve compiled a thorough guide to everything you’ll need if you’re a parent feeling concerned about this unusual school year.
Stock Up on School Supplies
Let’s start with the basics. Most homes have a decent supply of stationery and crafting materials, such as paper, scissors and glue, for all those rainy-day activities, but you may not be equipped with the tools your children will need for school five days a week.
The equipment your family needs varies depending on your children’s ages, but stocking up on essentials like letter-size printing paper and laser printer toner could avoid trouble when you need to print activity sheets and resources. Here’s a quick list of some of the materials your children may need:
* Organizational tools like planners, folders, binders, plastic envelopes, binder dividers, trapper keepers, post-its, paperclips and staplers.
* Writing materials, such as notepads, paper, pens, pencils and highlighters.
* Art supplies, including markers, paints, brushes, colored paper, glue, scissors and glitter.
* Electrical equipment in addition to computers, such as a printer, Epson printer cartridges, mouse, scanner, noise-cancelling headphones, microphones and external hard drives.
Before you shop, check with your school to find out what your children are expected to have. The school may even have a list of supplies that will save you from spending money on unnecessary purchases.
A Decent Wi-Fi Connection
After so many months of stay-at-home orders, you’re probably more than aware of the value of a good internet connection for homeschooling as well as remote working. You may have experienced the frustration of losing your connection during an important video call or having to wait what seems like hours for documents to download.
Having a Wi-Fi connection you can rely on is even more essential when you have more than one child using the internet simultaneously. Luckily, there are several things you can do to improve it, including:
* Updating your router to the latest model.
* Password-protecting your network.
* Fitting one or more Wi-Fi boosters, which is particularly helpful if you have a large house.
For critical tasks, like an online exam, consider forgoing wireless and opting for an ethernet cable. If you still have concerns, contact your Internet Service Provider for advice on enhancing your internet connection.
Trusted Online Resources
The internet has long been a fantastic tool for finding educational material, but even more resources have been made available since the coronavirus outbreak. There are countless interactive educational games, worksheets, blogs with activity ideas, digital textbooks and curriculum-relevant videos available.
Remember, these resources are not just for your children. They are an excellent way for you to prepare yourself to answer the inevitable questions you’ll be asked when their schoolwork gets difficult.
Establish a Structure and Routine
As an experienced stay-at-home mom, you know all about the benefits of structure, routine and boundaries. However, they become more crucial when children are studying at home, a place that is generally reserved for relaxing and having fun.
The last few months have been disruptive and unpredictable for everyone, and establishing a clear routine is comforting for your whole family. It may be tempting to let your kids spend all day in their pajamas, but starting the day by getting ready for school helps them get in the right mindset to concentrate on their work.
Use tools, such as wall calendars or digital planners, to coordinate your children’s schedules, dividing each day into blocks of time. This allows you to see what everyone should be doing at a glance. Don’t worry if things seem chaotic at first. It takes time to find a structure that works for your family.
Define Clear Workspaces
Living and working in the same place can make both relaxing and working difficult. So, it’s vital to define specific areas where your children do their schoolwork, separate from where they spend their free time. This is easier said than done for those of us with limited space; however, there are tricks to create work-life separation even in the smallest homes.
If your children don’t already have desks, invest in mounted fold-up desks. These cleverly-designed pieces take up almost no space when closed yet provide ample room for studying.
If that’s not an option and your kids have to work at the kitchen table, there are other ways you can indicate that it’s study time, such as setting up the table with desk lamps and supplies or even using music to signal the beginning and end of school time.
Support from Other Parents
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when homeschooling your children in the current situation. Seeking support from other parents who are going through the same challenges has never been more important.
Although you may not be able to meet up with other parents in person, that doesn’t mean you’re all alone. Reach out to parents you know from your children’s school and find out if there is an online group where you can share ideas and concerns. If this doesn’t exist, consider setting one up yourself. Alternatively, explore national–or even international–online communities of parents homeschooling their children for the first time.
Take a Well-Deserved Break
Remember that homeschooling is never going to feel the same as a traditional school. As a mom, it’s easy to think that you’re not doing enough. But, by providing your child’s education at home, you are not only ensuring their continued academic success but also forming a stronger connection with each other.
However, make sure to give yourself a break and some time alone to relax. With a little organization and planning, you’ll find there is plenty of time for work, rest and play for a stress-free and successful school year.