• Dear Families,

    I sincerely hope that all of you are doing well. A packet will be delivered every week for your child during distance learning. If you are getting the hang of homeschooling and have already developed a routine that works for you and your child, disregard the rest of this note. If you are frustrated or struggling with homeschooling, this note contains some information that might be helpful. I am writing it not only as a teacher, but as a mom who homeschooled both of my girls beyond first grade curriculum before enrolling them in public school. The information given is my opinion (be that what it is), and is based on years of experience.

    Thoughts and encouragement for homeschooling during distance learning

    • You are your child’s first and most important teacher. The foundation of good teaching and learning is unconditional love and trust. This means that as a parent, you are already way ahead of the game. Yay!
    • You do not need to be a perfect teacher. Whew, what a relief! In fact, the way you react to, and then fix, a mistake is a very important lesson every time it happens.
    • Set a routine that works for you and your child, and then follow it. Your child needs to know what comes first, what comes next, and what will finish his or her homeschooling routine. It becomes a familiar pattern that gets incorporated into the rest of the day, and provides a sense of security because it is an activity that is expected. This sense of security is even more important now than ever due to everything currently going on in the world and the accompanying stress (spoken or unspoken) it may be causing in the home.
    • Set simple expectations and then follow through with them. This also sets a pattern and provides a sense of security. For instance, you might set an expectation that your child always tries to do something three times first, instead of giving up. Or, that he or she asks for help instead of crying in frustration.
    • Keep it short and sweet, learning is supposed to be fun! I will tell you a secret…. homeschooling takes half the time (or less) than public school lessons take because you are working with your child (or children) on a one-to-one basis instead of teaching an entire classroom full of students with varying needs and abilities. Plus, little children have short attention spans.
    • Blend and combine topics to stimulate interest and promote higher-order thinking. For instance, last week I had my girls dissect a simple flower (a daffodil) and become familiar with the different parts and their functions. Then, they drew the parts in pencil on thick paper and painted their drawings with watercolor. Science and art combine beautifully, as do many of the other subjects.
    • Children learn best when they are playing. This applies to all subjects, at almost any time of the day (being tired or hungry is not conducive to learning). Math concepts can be learned while playing with dice, cards, or specific games (Uno for instance). It is a great opportunity to play with your child and practice counting, adding, or subtracting.
    • Learn about something and then apply it. This week the theme is about frogs. Once your child knows a bit about where frogs like to live and what they like to eat, he or she can make a “frog house” in your yard. Make sure your child evaluates the design and makes changes as needed. How is the structural integrity (we use that phrase in class)? Can it be improved? Is it near moist ground and shade or will it be too hot? Is water nearby or sources of food? Perhaps, given time, a frog will take up residence.
    • Learning with you is a thousand times more valuable than a “learning game” on the internet. Enough said.
    • If you or your child need a break from the lesson for whatever reason, take a 10 minute play break and come back to it. In class we were working on telling time using a large digital clock, and also used a visual timer or sand dial for certain activities. Use whatever you have at home to define the break, then try again. Teachers need breaks too. 😉
    • Look for teaching moments during the day. I homeschool my children in the morning, but there are opportunities for learning from the moment a child wakes up until the moment you tuck him or her into bed at night. These spontaneous teaching moments can be due to observing something cool (“the spider is wrapping the fly in silk before it liquifies the insides!”), fixing a problem (“get me the first aid kit please”), or cleaning up a mess (“Honey, you need more than a couple of paper towels to clean that up properly”).

    This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully it contains one or two things that will make homeschooling easier and enjoyable for you and your child during distance learning. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to email me at

    sladd@garpal.net.

    Take care, and please give your child a hug for me,

    Ms. Ladd