Hi, I’m Melissa den Dulk and I’m talking to you today, not as the lady that works in the front office, but as a veteran homeschool mom of over seven years. We brought our boys to Covenant six years ago, and they entered the sixth and eighth grade, but for the seven years prior we had educated them at home. So I thought I’d share with you some tips and tricks for homeschooling success.
7 Tips for Success When Learning at Home (full transcript)
I know that our teachers are doing a fabulous job—they’ve rolled out online instruction, they’re teaching live through Zoom, and using the LMS to upload coursework and assignments. I know now that your students are home, you as parents (and many of you are working parents) are now having to assist with making sure that assignments are getting completed, uploaded, and just helping your student structure their day. I hope these seven tips bless you and help you as we move along in this process.
#1: Start Your Day with Prayer. Whether that be Scripture or a devotional, anytime you can hide the love of Jesus and Scripture into your child's heart THAT is a beautiful thing. Definitely start your day with prayer.
#2: Designate a School Room/Space. I think many of you may have already done this. Set aside a spot that your student is comfortable working in—not the bedroom, not the playroom, not a place that is fun or a place that your student and relaxes and just chills out. We want it to be—Is it the kitchen table? Is it their desk that you've moved into a guest room? A separate spot that says, “When I'm in this area, I’m a student, and I'm going to work.” Make sure you do this so your student really gets a feel of when they're a student and working and when [they know], “Hey I'm just a kid and I'm free now.” Setting that structure and defining that space can really help.
#3: Stay Organized. The best way to stay on track is to stay organized. Luckily you are using the LMS (the FACTS Learning Management System), where your teacher has already organized your day and a lot of your assignments, [be sure to] go into that LMS. I know Mr. Ryan sent a tutorial for how to use the LMS. There are different views of the calendar and otherwise so you can see your assignments. But if you keep everything structured and in that designated school spot, that'll help your student and yourself be successful. Maybe some of you are old-school like I am and you like to write in a planner, there are some students that still love to do that as well. So if you want to open up that planner that Covenant gives you, write what is due that day, what Zoom calls you have, even chores, or maybe you want to do PE with Joe—you can write that all there. Staying organized will help relieve stress as well.
#4: Tackle the Hard Subjects First. If you have a lot of freedom in your schedule—I know Upper School is at bit more scheduled with Zoom calls being older students—if you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, I would do to the subjects that are harder for your student in the morning when they're fresh, when they are alert. When I was homeschooling, I tended to teach math and language arts in the morning. That was just my preference. My boys very much thought history and science were super fun, so we saved that for the afternoons. If you need guidance from your teacher, just reach out to your teacher. That is just what worked best for us, you figure out what works best for your student. Perhaps the subject that they struggle the most with you might want to teach them earlier in the morning or knock out that assignment that has been assigned from their teacher.
#5: Take Breaks. There will be times when you’re going to be frustrated and your student’s going to be frustrated. You know what? Stop. Take a break. It is okay. Move on to something else, or you know what? Get up, go outside, jump on the trampoline, take a walk, have a snack, or play a board game. It is okay. It is okay to walk away from something and come back to it later when you're fresh, when you’ve revisited. If you need to, ask a teacher for some clarification. You can do this! Don’t just try to plow through it if both of you are frustrated. That is going to benefit no one and tears could ensue, and we don't want that. We want this to be a really special time that you're having with your child and not for it to be super stressful and overwhelming to anyone.
#6: Keep it Fun! Look for creative ways to make learning fun. We talked about having that designated school space but if there is an assignment of 30 minutes of free reading, let them do that underneath their blanket fort in the living room. Let them do that laying outside in the hammock. Let them do that laying on the floor with their dog or their cat or their pet. You know how your child focuses best. If your child is one of those that needs to sit at a desk to stay focused, then maybe this is not a good idea. But if you feel that your student can handle that, make it a little fun and let them do their free reading somewhere else.
#7: Have Fun Friday! I always tried to do this. If your schedule allows, definitely implement a fun Friday. They work hard throughout the week and it's nice to have a little fun and a little celebration. How I would do this is whatever we were studying in history or science or literature, I tried to find a fun documentary on Netflix, the History Channel, or the Science Channel. My boys always loved that. So maybe you're in fifth/sixth grade and learning about presidents or the colonization of America, look up some fun documentaries. Maybe you're studying about fish in science, there are great documentaries out there as well. Or in literature, we would read a literature book and often we would watch the TV version or the movie version, and we would talk and compare the differences. Maybe you're reading Charlotte's Web or you're reading Narnia or Old Yeller, it would be fun on a Friday when you complete the book to watch that as a fun little thing to do.
These are my tips. I hope they bless you. And just know that we are all here to support you and love you and we can't wait to see you guys back on campus.