At Home Learning Can Be More Authentic
Just because school is over and many students are no longer receiving grades does not mean that learning has to stop. Now that most students are home from school due to the coronavirus, parents are left trying to navigate how to balance teaching their children with working from home. While worksheets, seat-work, and a strict schedule are often necessary for controlling and managing crowded classrooms at school, it can be tricky and sometimes frustrating to use this same approach at home. Remember, the learning we do at home does not have to look exactly like the learning that takes place in a classroom. Perhaps, learning at home presents a new opportunity.
The shift from school to home-based learning allows parents the freedom to let their kids explore more authentic learning experiences. Since many schools have closed, are not grading assignments, and are not participating in standardized testing, students are temporarily relieved from the pressure to master certain skills by a particular time.This gives parents the freedom to explore topics related to math, reading, science, and social students in a way that is interesting and relevant, even if it takes a little longer.
When we are only teaching our own children, we have the flexibility to give them choices. We can also focus on tying what they are learning to their interests. Authentic learning experiences are more engaging, independent, and self-directed and therefore more manageable than traditional bookwork and worksheets. In addition, at home we can tailor our instruction not only to our child’s interests but to their needs. If they are behind in certain areas or able to work beyond what is expected at their grade, we can start instruction at a level that will challenge but not overwhelm them. If they are below grade level, we have time to work towards grade level skills.
Here are some great ideas from Simone Kern at Edutopia for engaging younger children in learning activities that will help to build critical thinking skills, motivation, and independent learning. There are many fun opportunities to learn about science, social studies, math, reading, the arts, and life skills all around us. Here is another resource from Big Life Journal that provides creative activities that kids can do by themselves or with a sibling as well as suggestions for indoor activities for teens. Included along with the activities is a schedule that students can use to select their own activities for the day.
Focusing on choice and topics of interest can help to build motivation as well as a life-long interest in and desire to learn. During a time when we are all experiencing a great deal of stress, learning from home presents an opportunity to bring the joy back to learning by connecting activities with the real world and your child’s interests. This can help fill the time until students begin to receive consistent assignments again from their teachers or supplement what they are currently receiving from school. Although it is good to focus on learning in each subject area. Kids do not have to work on each subject every day. When they participate in a project, experiment, or hands-on learning activity, they may only get to 1-2 subjects per day, but the resulting learning will be deeper and more long-lasting.
We would love to hear from you. Tell us about the projects your kids are working on or the fun learning activities they have tried.
Nina Parrish, M. Ed.
Co-Owner and Director of Education
Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.
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