Home Schooling Strategies in a Pandemic: "Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Kids"
Ms. Alyssa Gray-Tyghter
Teacher and Educational Equity Consultant
Ms. Alyssa Gray-Tyghter is "mompreneur" of her three "bears", blogger and co-creator of the "Teachers Like Us" Podcast. She is a middle school teacher and an educational equity consultant in addition to completing a Master's of Education in Critical Studies, focusing on Critical Race Theory and Indigenous Education.
Alyssa is passionate about educating our future world leaders and looking at creative ways to engage students so all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed by ensuring school environments and resources showcase the best of everyone.
THE SCHOOL TO HOME SCHOOL TRANSITION
"The first few weeks, we just said live. We are facing times we have never had to deal with before. Adjustment was key. We needed to learn how to live first before figuring what we (as parents/caregivers) needed to do." Alyssa Gray-Tyghter
Watch the video below to see what the transition was like and what routine the Gray-Tyghter family has settled into!
Healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids is your goal
Learning happens all around you - life skills are especially important, so take the opportunity to foster these
Focus on taking your child's lead to help keep them interested and develop a love for school and learning
3-4 hours of learning is an adequate amount of time for younger kids before their brains are done for the day
"Cut your kids at home some slack, we have taken their lives away from them. It is normal to feel anxiety, frustration and in-decision. This leads to inappropriate behaviour. Look beyond the behaviour at the cause and focus on compassion." - Brian Mendler
HOW DO PRIMARY TEACHERS APPROACH LEARNING?
A primary teachers goal is to get kids hooked on learning.
School has changed so much from the traditional school model of "sit here, learn this, etc." that a lot of us in the parent/caregiver generation are used to. Nowadays, most classrooms are set up to help foster learning with a variety of environments.
You will see classrooms with beanbag chairs, floor cushions, standing desks, normal desks, learning carpets, etc. This allows students the opportunity to learn where they are most comfortable.
SHOULD YOU DESIGNATE A LEARNING AREA IN YOUR HOME?
It's important to remember that traditional "home schooling" and trying to teach-at-home during a crisis are very different.
If you actively home school your kids as a life choice, you need the separation of spaces to simulate going to school. For those who are trying to teach in a chaotic environment, do what works best for you and your family. A specified learning environment may work for you and you may have the space however, it is not always realistic for families to have a separate learning area in their homes.
Remember, learning happens everywhere - hallways, backyards, seeing others, etc. Learning spaces are not necessary, do what works best for your family!
Click Here for learning activities using things found around the house!
AS A TEACHER, HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT THE BALANCE OF "WHAT IS TOO MUCH?"
As a teacher, we are being told to give them everything you have. As a mom, who may have three kids in three different classes and you are just receiving lists. This is overwhelming!
From that standpoint, as a teacher, you do what you have to do. As a mom, you pick and choose what you need to do. Treat these lists like a "Learning Menu". Know that it is the 'concept' that teachers are trying to get at.
For example: if the concept number sense and learning about numbers, have your kids tell you the date or time on the clock. If it's words, have your kid learn a new word for the day.
WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS DO YOU GIVE FOR PARENTS WHO HAVE CHILDREN AT MULTIPLE LEVELS?
If able, have learning bins of different things, i.e., math bins and reading bins. You can instruct your children to go get something from the math bin. This way, your children are all working on something, but it leaves you free.
For older kids, journals are a great way to foster self-directed thoughts. Have your child read something they are interested in (i.e., comic books) and then journal about what they have read.
As parents, set your expectations low. Teachers are good at their jobs and will catch students up once they return to school. As a parent, your goal is to keep your kids engaged in the learning process and not micromanage what they are learning.
HOW TO JOURNAL WITH DIFFERENT AGES
Each level of journaling will look different.
Kindergarten: have them draw pictures and then verbally explain the picture to you
Elementary: choose simple topics with fun questions (i.e., what would you do if you were invisible?)
Middle School: write about more complex topics such as "What does your life look like in quarantine?"
Get them excited about journaling. Let them know that they are creating a primary resource (i.e., first hand accounts of what happened in history). We are living history and those in the future will want to read their journal entries to understand what happened.
DEALING WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER AT HAND: THE PANDEMIC
Have discussions with your kids. They understand that things are not normal right now. Have "real talk" and allow them to ask questions to understand what is going on.
There are resources out there to help you with these discussions. The "What is a Pandemic" is a resource created for elementary students by Naomi O'Brien and LaNesha Tabb discusses the pandemic in a non-threatening way with activities for kids to complete.
WHAT KIND OF EVALUATION SHOULD WE BE DOING? HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE DOING WHAT IS RIGHT?
As a parent/caregiver, you are not expected to do any assessment whatsoever. At the end of all of this, you are still their parent/caregiver and have to live with your kids. Even if you put on your teacher hat, your success marker is happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids.
AS A WORKING MOM, DO YOU CREATE DEDICATED TIME FOR YOUR KIDS DURING THE WORK DAY?
"As a teacher, your expected to be on the clock during school hours. Students are resilient, but my kids do need me. Truthfully, I cannot put down my phone, it is not an option for me."
- Alyssa Gray-Tyghter.
You can't put pressure on yourself or you will go mad. You are at home with them, you are spending time with them. It's okay to separate yourself from them and get rid of this "mom guilt".
Don't hold yourself to the "Pinterest" mom standard. Give yourself and your kids a break. Understand that they are learning during a weird time. Your main goal is to have healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids!
Interested in connecting with Alyssa or have questions?
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