Updated: May 8
Eek! You just added elementary school teacher to your spinning plates schedule! Breathe, start where you are, and let’s activate a scholastic and creative blueprint that works for your family.
"GIRL! DO YOU KNOW THERE'S A NEW MATH?!"
This is the first thing I hear when answering an incoming call. “And I’m not just the math teacher, there’s language arts, science, and social studies. It doesn’t stop! If I don’t make it, it won’t be because of Corona, it will be from school work!”
For parents of school age children, how familiar does this sound? As I continued to listen as my friend protested her newly appointed position as at-home 5th grade teacher, I breathed deeply and considered how I could offer practical support.
As a mother to an autistic son, my entire scholastic experience with him was custom fit and required adjustments on an as-needed basis.
Here are some of the tools I encouraged her to practice:
PLAN & PARTNER WITH OTHERS
Connect with the teacher—get tips on how he/she structures their lesson plan and remember they have the same textbook/material as your child EXCEPT it includes the answers. This is your first line of support
Create an at-home parent network —some parents of your child’s classmates may be better at math, another at language arts, etc. Share the school work load. This is powerful partnering
Plan the lesson(s) the night before and prepare the day’s material
Implement interactive video learning with music, movement, and repetition
Keep the same schedule and routine as this creates safety for the parent and child--Set a timer & stick to it!
Create a designated school area. Even in a small living space, the kitchen table turns back into the dining table at 3:00pm. School is over!
Make it fun! Learn the stimuli your child positively responds to & ask for their input
Involve them in the set-up, clean-up, and even lunch prep of the school day. This ownership is part of the learning process
Ask your child Who, What, How, When, Where questions. You're going to be surprised & delighted with their creative answers!
Recognize them out loud & be descriptive. Instead of “That was good, honey” acknowledge the exact behavior—"Honey, the way you chose to sort by shape then color was impressive”
Instead of remaining frustrated, recognize when the school day is going off the rails and step away. Regroup by changing scenery. Go in the yard and create art with nature (rocks, leaves, sticks, flowers) or set up kitchen pantry items as a mock grocery store to learn budgeting skills.
Take note of what is working and what continues to be a work in progress
Take several 20-min breaks—Between 3-5 depending on your child
Include healthy, brain boosting snacks and meals
Remember recess! And when the kids take a break so do the parents! It’s important for everyone to refresh
By the end of our conversation, my friend had calmed down and was ready to begin with a fresh plan of action. Friends, start where you are and take the next best step that works for you and your child.
I’m eager to hear what tips are working in your home. Please share!