COVID-19 and Homeschooling Tips

This is a short intro video, new, longer videos are further down in the post.

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There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. Find YOUR way. The spectrum runs from “unschooling”, where there isn’t a set curriculum or schedule, to “schooling at home” which is just like it sounds.

I’m somewhere in the middle. We have a (flexible) schedule and I use state standards to guide what my child learns, but we are flexible about it. Also, my child is ten, so although some of my advice is for parents of all ages, there is more tuned to younger children. My friend, Tammie Takahashi, has homeschooled all of her adult children and wrote a book! Here is a link: https://amzn.to/2U7lwGz

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SCHEDULE

One of the reasons I homeschool is because of the brain science surrounding letting kids sleep in. My child wakes up when she wakes up, then she is free to entertain herself until 10am, which is when we start schoolwork.

HOW MUCH TIME: Keep in mind, my kiddo is ten. We do 3-4 hours of work a day, four days a week, and if we go to four hours, it’s because she’s doing a science or art project that takes up an hour or longer.

If your child is younger than eight or nine, you might only do one or two hours of work a day, and perhaps four or five hours if you have a high-schooler and the mental bandwidth! We reserve Friday for “field trips”, however, it’s also the day we make up work if she’s feeling moody and doesn’t do her work earlier in the week. In our house, the rule is that she must complete four days of schoolwork in order to earn “privileges” such as screen time and playdates (which is a whole other blog post, I can’t get into it here.)

Because of COVID-19 we aren’t doing “field trips” right now, however, Friday is still a non-academic day where we might do more cooking, check out some new dances on Youtube, sing karoke on SMULE.

OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE

6am: I get up and start working

8am: My child usually wakes up. She makes her bed and her breakfast (these are part of her chore chart to earn screen time, playdate privileges, and $$)

10am: School starts: Math and “Language Arts” every day, Spanish/SocialStudies/Science/Typing every other day. Notice that I’ve had four hours to myself to get stuff done.

12pm: Lunch Break

1pm: School starts again. My child will also practice her piano, singing, do art during this time. We also exercise together during this time, taking a walk, hike, doing a yoga or HIIT workout at home, taking a ballet class from YouTube. It’s not all “school work”.

3pm: My child must entertain herself until dinner while I do some more work. If she’s “earned it” she’ll get some time on Brain Pop or have a playdate or enrichment class with another teacher (Martial Arts, Vocal performance). Right now we are doing enrichment classes and “playdates” virtually. Batttleship is a great game for a virtual playdate. FYI: we only watch TV/movies in our house Friday/Saturday/Sunday, no “show” during the week.

6pm: We start making dinner. She’s already capable of using a full-size chef’s knife and can cook over the stove unassisted.

10pm: Bed time for everyone. Hopefully the little has gone to bed around 8:30 or 9:00, but you know how it goes.

DISCLAIMER: This is an “ideal” day. Trust me it isn’t always like this!

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AN EASY “CURRICULUM” STARTER FOR YOUNGER KIDS (2-8)

There is a homeschooling curriculum called “Five In A Row” which is probably the EASIEST way to start homeschooling and give some structure to your day. It’s intended for ages 2 to 8, and is the curriculum I used (LOOSELY! I took the PHILOSOPHY and ran with it) for first and second grade. If you visit their link, you’ll see that they even pick out the books for you, and while I used some of the ones they recommended, I eventually chose my own and took what I liked about the philosophy (easy way to build a week, repetition philosophy) and made it my own thing.

The basic philosophy is simple: pick a book and read it to the child five (or four) days in a row, and focus on a different aspect of the book each day. There are studies about how much kid’s enjoy repetition and how it aids in their learning. Let me give you an example with a book most of us probably have read or own Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Day 1: MATH You read the book to your child and then go to your crayon collection and do some simple addition and subtraction with crayon colors. “How many purple crayons do we have?” “How many red and green crayons do we have?” You can show your child the math equations that mimic what they are seeing. Have your child draw math equations using crayons…as I write this I’m realizing I should probably shoot another video so I can “show” you what I mean, so subscribe to YouTube.com/AlegreRamos and I’ll get that done ASAP. (I DID THIS, in the videos below)

NEW VIDEOS HERE where I basically go through this entire post by video. If you like to watch rather than read, this is for you!

#1 of 3
#2 of 3, Calendar file is available down below
Video #3 of 3, Worksheet file is available below

Day 2: LANGUAGE ARTS Read the book again, perhaps more slowly so that your child can shout out any words she/he knows. If there were words they didn’t know yesterday, question them to see if they remember the definition. Point out the words that show up a lot. Perhaps ask them to spell some words. Maybe ask your kid to create their own crayon-adventure picture book or ask what she/he thinks Harold will do next and come up with their own story verbally.

Day 3: SOCIAL STUDIES Read the book again. Is there something about the book your kid would like to recreate in your world? Maybe bake a pie since pies are a part of the book, or build a boat out of a cardboard box.

Day 4: SCIENCE Read the book AGAIN (I know you are getting tired of it, but your kiddo isn’t and that’s what matters!) Pull out something sciency and research it. Harold encounters the moon on his journey, perhaps watch a video on YouTube about the phases of the moon. Or there is a famous fun science/art experiment using crayons and hairdrayers. Perhaps do that.

DAY 5 ART: Read the book AGAIN and do some art based on it.

The benefit of this philosophy is that by using a single book as a “framework to build on” you are relating to your child how things work together and building reference points in their brain that help them to access the information you taught. Now math is no longer an abstract concept, but a way to count their crayons. Now a book isn’t just a “set in stone” document but something that you can riff and build off of.

By the way, what I began doing was picking a THEME for each month and then choosing books around that theme. For instance, here is an edited version of a calendar I did for April 2017. I chose Elizabethan England

SEE VIDEOS ABOVE where I explain how to use this calendar.

because the Renaissance Faire comes to our town in April and it is a “hook” to hang the whole theme on. Plan your themes around holidays you celebrate, the seasons, and things like that. It makes it really easy!

TIPS ON KEEPING YOUR SANITY

Ever since she was born, I’ve told my child, “Mommy’s first job is to keep you healthy and safe. Mommy’s second job is to make sure you learn how to take care of yourself.” There are days when I do not “play” with my child. I played with her like crazy until she was about five or six, but as schooling has taken up more and more time, my husband takes the lead on “play” when he gets off work. When my child asks me to play and I don’t have the bandwidth, I say, “It’s not my job to entertain you. Figure something out to do.” Say it with me: BOREDOM IS THE GATEWAY TO CREATIVITY. Your kid will do amazing things once they decide to relieve their own boredom!!! I’m constantly astounded by my child’s creativity.

ANYTHING can be turned into a homeschooling lesson. The other night the International Space Station was visible overhead in our night sky. So we went out and watched it, talked about why it was bright for part of its transit but not all (reflected sunlight). The next day we researched the ISS and its course and watched Hidden Figures (fantastic movie!) If your child is interested in something, RUN WITH IT. That’s the learning that sticks!!!

Dopamine = Brain’s Save Button. The fastest way to help a human learn is to make learning fun because dopamine, the chemical released when we are enjoying ourselves, is the brain’s “save button.” Think about how to make learning fun for your kid!

Short and Sweet or Long and Painful I started doing this with piano, I asked my kiddo, “Do you want a short practice or a long practice?” And of course she says short practice, and when she has a good attitude, she’s done with piano practice in twenty minutes. However, she practices every other day. I think short and repetitive is better than long, painful, and in-frequent. Remind your kiddo that if they have a good attitude, they can be done quickly and you can move on to something they enjoy more.

Focus on What You Want the Kiddo To Take Away. We recently did a unit on the representative democracy of the United States (it’s an election year! That’s a great “hook” to build out lessons on.) I didn’t care if my child remembered how many years the president, a senator, or a congress-person is in office, what I cared about were the underlying philosophies. I would ask my child, “Why do you think a president can’t hold office as long as a Supreme Court judge or a Congressperson?” To which she responded, “Because the president has so much power.” And we talked about balance of power and the reasons behind having a bicameral legislature. That’s what I think is important, the other stuff is just memorization (in my opinion.)

Have your Kids Help You Come Up With The Schedule. I created a weekly calendar that showed my child when we had commitments and then I told her she could schedule when she wanted to do her academic subjects. She really appreciated having some autonomy in her schedule and was sure to schedule lots of “fun” for herself that she understood she couldn’t do if the schoolwork wasn’t completed first. (I’ll show this in my next video.)

Know that homeschooling is the ultimate practice in “not quitting.” Last month there was one week where I wanted to quit every single day, but I believe in homeschooling, which is why I do it. Be gentle with yourself, tell your child that you are tired because you are doing something new. Know that there is a learning curve in the beginning and that it takes a solid three or more months to get into a rhythm.

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RESOURCES:

My kiddo is 10 and we’ve been homeschooling the whole time (although we’ve also been a part of co-ops along the way.) I don’t have resource advice for junior and high school, but my friend Tammie Takahashi has homeschooled all of her adult children and wrote a book! Here is a link: https://amzn.to/2U7lwGz

Here are my favorite resources.

ALL AGES

-The workbooks on my Amazon shop SmartURL.it/shopAmazon .

-For SCIENCE and SOCIAL STUDIES I purchase recent used California textbooks from Ebay and we do 2-4 pages a day (they are dense pages!) I started doing that for third grade.

IXL.com : all subjects, doesn’t teach, more like a gameified workbook

khanacademy.org : all subjects, FREE and TEACHES

Duolingo.com : languages, FREE

-Youtube has many great resources, such as this Multiplication Mash-up video with SONGS which was how my child learned her multiplication tables. However, be sure to use it with your child since it’s not a “safe space.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgjCLhoI9Mk

A list of COVID-free resources
https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/…/list-of-education-compan…/…

YOUNGER KIDS

-Here is a math worksheet I created for when my child was in first and second grade and needed daily reinforcement on math concepts or else it was like she’d never learned them. I’ll include an example of how to use it in my next video, but perhaps you can figure it out…

SEE VIDEOS ABOVE where I explain how to use this worksheet.

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Brainpop.com : most subjects, teaches and FREE because of COVID (they also have a junior version which I would say is better for under nine YO)

dancemattypingguide.com : typing, FREE, my little’s favorite typing program and we’ve tried four. It’s very “silly”.

YOUNGEST KIDS

jr.brainpop.com : most subjects, teaches and FREE because of COVID. It’s like educational television but with some teaching aspects like quizzes.

ABCMouse.com: many subjects, 2-8YO

-Monkey Math app: for first and second-graders

-RosiMosi OWL learning apps: lots of subjects

Also, do web searches for “free homeschool worksheets” and you’ll find a lot! Also, lots of free music, dance, and art lessons on YouTube (however, YouTube should only be used with supervision!

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Be a spark in the world!

I’m here if you have questions!

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Alegre Ramos “Homeschool Theme Calendar April 2017” and “Math Homeschool Worksheet” by AlegreRamos.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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