In this current weird time that we are living in, overnight a lot of us found ourselves adding “home school teacher” to our resumes and probably did not envision it going on as long as it has been or most likely will be. It’s cool. We’re cool. We’ve got this. (Insert internal pep talk that I’m sure you all are having as well.) Despite this being a time when the least we can do is stay home and stay away from one another, it oddly has been a globally unifying time where people are sharing countless resources with one another to help out; and those that can be used in home school lessons are no different.
My 9-5 for the past ten years has been in education. I’ve spent time working in preschool settings, kindergarten, upper elementary school, and even middle school. Some of my most favorite lessons and activities came from the time I spent working with the littlest little ones, and thankfully so as my daughter is now of that same age and the activities I’ve been doing with her really mirror those times. I started this home school journey creating activity boards that I provided a choice of lessons however, she chose the order in which we did them. That quickly evolved into following the awesome Scholastic Parents: Learning from Home lessons for Prek-K which provided us a springboard for over an entire month. However now that we have completed those lessons, I had to get creative. Since my job is also continuing during this and meetings and virtual classes dominant chunks of my day, I needed to revisit my “plan”. Now, I pick a topic – something broad – and sprinkle that “theme” into various lessons we do throughout the entire week. I am a firm believer in structure and routine, especially during these weird times, so I always keep school to the morning (even if activities only last about an hour or so each day), and then the afternoons are spent playing inside/outside, baking, creating, games, etc. as those are equally important parts of a child’s development. It also provides us an opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, something that is a silver lining these days.
In addition to those Scholastic lessons, we also have been utilizing several other resources. We use ABC Mouse sometimes when we need her to be independent. These lessons build on themselves and she loves utilizing the program. While it isn’t a free resource, you can find subscriptions marked down from time to time, and if you do, I’d recommend it. Another resource we have been loving is BrainPop Jr. While subscriptions are also required for most of the site, the topics and subject matters covered is expansive. My LO LOVES BrainPop and asks to spend more time on it whenever she can. Additionally, and probably most renowned, is Youtube. We have utilized Youtube for several songs to learn everything from Spanish vocabulary to songs about the continents and oceans of the world. One of our favorite Youtube channels is Hopscotch for their countless catchy tunes that are simple for LOs to follow and learn from. For art, we have been enjoying the weekly artist inspired activities that the Hirshhorn museum sends out in their email newsletter. Instagram has also been a tremendous resource. So many parents out there are exchanging ideas on the daily with one another, encouraging each other, and growing in this experience together – it’s awesome to see! Other virtual resources we have been using and loving are all things Sesame Street (whether online or on TV) and Highlights Magazine (they also have an online platform with fun games you can play for free).
Lastly, build your resource closet at home. Ours is stock piled with various things I’ve found over time at the Dollar Store, Target, and beyond. When you can finally venture back to those places, I recommend finding things to use for a “rainy” (or quarantined) day. A lot of those resources are coming in handy now more than I realized. I also have made a few educational purchases on Amazon, like this Montessori wooden counting board, water beads, felt balls, and Washi tape. Some of our go to supplies include construction paper, glue sticks, dot stickers, painter’s tape, markers, paint, and parchment paper, which I’m starting to feel like an educational MacGyver in that I believe that if you have those items you truly can teach anything. We also have a bag in our laundry room of “potential project items” aka recyclable items that seem as though they could be used way beyond their packaging days. It’s stored out of the way because clutter is not my friend, and are a great place for my LO to go when she feels like “creating”. Finally, with the growing warmer weather, one of our favorite things to do is release ladybugs in our garden to help shield our plants from aphids. You can also do this with tadpoles, butterflies, and ants. Having little ones watch something grow provides ample lessons in the life cycle and importance of ALL creatures.
While I am no expert, these are a few of the things that we have been utilizing in what I have dubbed as “mom school”, and loving. The resources and opportunities for learning and creating memories for LOs is endless. How are you surviving this season of life and what have you been utilizing to make your homeschooling work?