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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Frnka

Simple Resources for Parents New to Homeschooling

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Howdy Y’all!


Hope everyone is fairing well in this new world that we are living in. Before I begin my true purpose in writing this, I want to remind all of you to afford yourself some grace. In fact, stop reading and go grab a sticky note or rip off a corner of the paper and write GRACE in letters that take up the entire page. Then post it where you will see it multiple times a day.


Next, grab your coffee because we have work to do!


Our children are at home for an undetermined amount of time and so are we. Our lives have shifted in ways we have yet to know. It’s a scary and exciting time. Fortunately, some of us have navigated a little more of the uncharted territory than others and want to set your heart and mind at ease. It’s all going to be okay. You are going to be okay. Your children are going to be okay.


Having worked from home now for 7 years and making the decision to move my youngest daughter into virtual schooling 2 years ago, I have had some practice in learning how to manage educating my child while working a full-time job. And, I want to set your mind at ease – there have been ugly – really ugly moments. LOL! I am an educator with over 20 years of experience between childcare and high school education. I have worked with every age group from infancy – seniors in high school and am extremely passionate about learning and growing and allowing children to lead. Yet, I have not been able to master getting my own children to do half the things I do with my children in my classroom. Our oldest daughter has ADHD and high anxiety and our youngest has adrenal insufficiency, dyslexia, and sensory processing disorder. When I see some of your posts about frustration and trying to manage three or four children in a homeschool environment that you were thrust into, I understand. At times, it can seriously take a village to support our children.


Is it the life we wanted or envisioned? Probably not, but this is beyond our control. So, let’s work on those things we have more control over.


Online/Homeschool is foreign to most of us. Educating our children for more than just a couple of hours a day is foreign to most of us. Working from home is foreign to most of us. Learning to do ALL of it at the same time with no preparation- pre thought- training- no plan at all in place would make the sanest person nearly go nuts.


So, let’s take a moment to breathe. Then sip your coffee and let’s talk reality.


The reality is it is not all going to get done.


The reality is there are going to be ugly and messy moments. You are going to have to hold yourself back from running out of the house kicking and screaming.


The reality is doors might be slammed, arguments might occur, tears may be cried.


The reality is despite what the schedule says the dishes might be left undone, toys might not all be cleaned up, you might crawl into bed exhausted at 7:30 still hoping to get one more thing in and you might miss a deadline at work.


On the flip side, the reality is that there are going to be many more beautiful, almost magical moments.


You will see your child excel in ways you never knew they could. You will see them open up more and more. You will want to talk, but this is your time to listen. Let them teach you.


You will learn history all over again. Science projects will be exciting for both of you. Math will click for you and them too. And, the literature discussions you will have will set your soul on fire!


The reality though is that you must stay engaged.


Establish a realistic routine. If you are going to be in meetings from 9-10 am., then plan downtime for your child then. Nothing is harder and more disappointing for a child when an adult sets a date with them and does not follow through. The first time you compromise and allow other obligations to interfere with your child’s academic time the more likely they will wander, and it will be more difficult to get them interested again.


My recommendation is to keep it simple:


Math/Reading Workshop.

Estimate about 4 hours and hope it naturally works itself into about 6.


Reading Workshop Recommended Supplies:

Notebook

Pen/Pencil

Highlighters

Crayons

Dictionary

Sticky Notes


*Note- Dictionary skills/Vocabulary development are extremely important for all courses. If you do nothing else help your child to learn to use the dictionary and build their vocabulary with flashcards and trashketball.


Trashketball – grab a trash can and a few sheets of paper. Each time your child gets a vocabulary definition correct they get to crumble up a piece of paper into a ball and shoot the ball. Of course, this is more fun when there are multiple players, so if you are doing this alone, I highly recommend playing with them besides they will be excited to see what you know too. And, this is highly versatile – spelling words, math problems, history recalling, etc.


Back to the reading workshop.


CommonLit has excellent resources for 3rd – 12th grade in their digital library – click here.


Project Gutenberg is great for the classics – click here.


Booklicious is a wonderful resource for exploring the joy of reading and literacy.


Storyboard is a wonderful place to allow your children to create their own story about a concept they are learning or to spark their imagination.


Librovox free books online


Youtube most children’s books and you will find them in audio version too.


Your local library site can help too.


Before you begin reading:

Research the author

Learn about who they are

Identify what occurred in history when they were growing up and the time the story is set (you are working in history here).

Look at the title of the story.

Predict what will happen.


Read short stories twice.


First, read and get a general idea of what the story is about.

Ask your child to stop and write a summary of what they understand about the story so far. If they can support this with evidence (words from the story) ask them to include that too.


The second read interact with the text (to see examples of what this might look like at the high school level click here and here)


If possible, allow your child to actually write in the book/on the document.


Make notes about vocabulary, characters, setting, theme, literary devices.

Ask themselves questions.

Write down connections that they have within the story or outside of the story.

Use their crayons or colored pens to draw/doodle within the context of the story or organize their notes.

Jot down quick notes/thoughts onto a sticky note

Ask your child to highlight important quotes from the story --- if there are page numbers include those too.


Ask questions:

For 4th grade + they should be able to write a couple of paragraphs for these answers.


What is the message (the theme) that the author wants you to understand? How do you know?

What does (the story) ___________________ by ________________ remind you of? Explain.


Lead4Ward has great resources for this under their Think It Up and Instructional Strategies playlist.


Consider giving your child a place to publish their writing.


For Children ages 5 – 12 consider:


For Teens consider:


For Graduating Seniors consider:


Ask your child to draw a picture or write their own story about what makes them sparkle.


Math Workshop:

I am not a math teacher and believe there are extremely valuable teachers out there who can provide so much more here, but my thoughts with regard to the workshop are to find projects that offer science and math components.


Some ideas can be found here:


More formal Math/Science/History/English practice grades 3 – 11:

TEA STARR PRACTICE – Practice packets provide a good overview of the curriculum for the core areas from 3 – 11th grade and offer a great place to start. They even have the rationale behind the answers listed.


Printable Worksheets for Kids - fun, educational, and even craft worksheets that could provide your children with hours of fun. Actually, this is how I found my love for teaching when I was around 8 years old. My cousins and I would take the old worksheets that my grandmother had stored in two old wooden school desks and we would play school. My cousin usually taught math, she is an accountant. And, I usually taught spelling. I am an English teacher.


Virtual Field Trips:


Road trip From Home: Virtual Field Trips - a wonderful alternative to visiting places around the world when you cannot physically get there. Consider pairing these with history and reading lessons. Your children could research the world's greatest, tallest, fastest, biggest... For instance, one of my readers, Amelia, found excitement in researching the World's Tallest Ferris Wheel which is located in Dubai. Now she might find even more excitement in constructing a replica of the Ferris wheel while also exploring and learning more about Dubai and India. And, then she might research the World's Tallest Rollercoaster while building her own rollercoaster where she could learn more about calculating speed and distance, as well as, explore the town of Jackson, New Jersey and the surrounding area.


Another one of my readers, Lish, from Singapore shared a wonderful guide to the Best Museums in Singapore. From there you can head over to Ireland where Mary, suggested taking one of seven of the Best Virtual Tours in Ireland. Finally, get on board to Vancouver with Apple and take a Virtual Tour in Vancouver. All the resources provide you with in depth information about their country and video clips that allow you to step into and experience just a bit of their culture.


Financial Literacy:


Teaching our children about money early on is critical as they move forward and learn how to manage their own funds. How to Teach Kids About Money and Students & Financial Literacy from Annuity.org provides some great tips about how to teach children to become more financially responsible as they grow.


Remember that this is your time with your children. You can use the time; however, you best see fit. Figure in spiritual enrichment, play board games, play video games, paint, draw, clean out the closets, and craft. Let them teach you. Most importantly know that your plan does not need to look like your best friend’s plan for her children. You have children with their own unique and special needs – what works for her might not work for you. And, where your children seem to lack in one area, they make up so much more than you could imagine in another area when you nurture it. Use this time to get to know your children. They are beautiful gifts each one with their own unique talents and they are ready to teach you everything that they know. Consider even planning a day or a time where they determine what the lesson will be. 😉


Ya’ll have a beautiful day!


All My Love,


Jen

For more education resources click here.

To learn more about Get Strong with Jen! click here.


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