Heading into another week of the stay-at-home order, how are you adapting? It’s certainly not easy! Not the least of these adaptions is the homeschooling that has been thrust upon parents.

For families with younger children the need to be creative is a challenge. Some fun examples: tape on a sidewalk in a stained-glass pattern to be colored in with chalk; an extra-large cardboard box becoming a playhouse; and surprising friends by hiding plastic eggs in the friends’ yard, leaving a note, ringing the doorbell and running away.

Puppets work well for teaching ideas and lessons. Small paper bags or socks can be easily transformed with gluing, stitching and creating. Use them to share stories or help a new reader sound out words. Your child can create stories from pictures to read to their stuffed animals. Old National Geographic magazines have great pictures for collages. Coupled with a world map they become wonderful geography lessons.

For help with older kids I found valuable information at www.afineparent.com.

On April 13 they featured seven veteran homeschool teachers. Highlights follow:

• Break the work into short time periods, taking many active breaks.

• Change the location of where work is done.

• Use the outdoors as a teaching tool.

• Read to or teach younger children while they do artwork.

• Allow listening to music while studying.

• Keep expectations realistic. Write goals for each day, letting students pick the order in which they are accomplished.

• Explore vocabulary, math, and history while engaging in hands-on science experiments.

• Pick a three-hour block of time. Define what is and isn’t allowed during that time (educational apps and websites okay, no screens for entertainment, texting or social media) Include reading, audiobooks, traditional lessons, workbooks, and artistic pursuits. Be sure expectations are understood. Have a different objective for each hour  (first hour covers language arts, math, etc., second anything involving books, third for games, documentaries, podcasts, online learning, etc.) Stay flexible.

• Help your kids become independent thinkers. Create a template that your child fills out every day with questions similar to the following:

- What did I learn today that helped me today and/or in the future?

- What was my biggest challenge and in what way did this challenge benefit me?

- Where did I show a great attitude today?

- What am I most grateful for today?

These can be answered written, verbally or both. Sharing their answers allows you to encourage them in becoming independent thinkers.        

• Look for your child’s best learning style. How do they like to learn? Is it through listening, watching, or touching an item? Is it while singing or moving? Do they want to talk about what they are learning or sit quietly and think about it? Know the learning outcome you are after. Let your child guide you to the best way to get there.

• Focus on relationships. Read together and play outside together.

• Focus on all the needs of your kids: physical, including large muscle and small muscles of hands through art projects and crafts. Spiritual and emotional, as well as intellectual.

• For teens, limit social media, and turn off the TV. Limit news to the evening news or newspaper to keep stress down. Focus on “adult” skills, doing chores together.

• Focus on feelings, family and fun first. Then, encourage reading quietly or aloud and daily writing. Model reading. Teach math, vocabulary and science through baking, measuring, board games and writing stories.

• Lighten up and take care of yourselves and your family.

• Teach through play and fun, encouraging academics in light un-academic ways.

• Relax. Be sure your kids feel safe, seen, heard, and loved. Do a little schoolwork, then leave it. Play a game, go outside, bake a treat, snuggle up together and read a book. Talk to your kids to get a sense of how they’re managing and feeling. Who and what do they miss? Remind them this won’t last forever, we’re all in it together, and we’ll all get through it.

• Facilitate learning about your child’s interests.  Look things up together. Find YouTube videos that demonstrate. Encourage freedom for learning what your child wants to learn. Explore their interests.

• Don’t limit knowledge to a prescribed curriculum.

• Spark an interest, like cooking. You’ll be using math, English, science, and possibly culture, religion and geography.

• The best learning happens when you are having fun.

• The same website (www.afineparent.com) carried information about How to Plant Your Own Food in a Kid-Friendly Garden. Check it out. Think about all your kids will learn by getting their hands dirty.