376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, P.O. Box 316, Bridgehampton, NY 11932

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Homeschool for Beginners

Teachers have sent home worksheets, books, and suggestions for what to do with your children over the next two to six weeks but, we are missing an essential part of the school experience: the structure.  There is something reassuring about the predictability of a school day for a child.  They can expect when it is time to play, time to learn, and time to rest.  Things go more smoothly when your child knows what to expect.  According to the CDC, consistent scheduling provides a sense of safety for your child as well. 

If your child is feeling safe, there may even be a sense of excitement for their new, homeschooling experience. This is the ultimate game of make-believe, and mommy is the teacher.  Children will be excited to engage in rule-making, the set up of their new school space and will even want to direct some of their own learning. 

While this may seem like a daunting task for mamas, it is also an opportunity to learn more and connect with your child.  Learning at home allows for creativity to follow your child’s specific interests.  Subjects like language arts, foundations, or math can be covered while learning about dinosaurs or cooking in the kitchen.

Should I create a school area in my house?

If you are like me you have been playing school since you were 5 years old.  Setting up a classroom space at home? Well, that’s a dream come true!

Yes! In the same way we eat at the dinner table, or sleep in our beds, we should try our best to carve out a space specifically for learning.  This is an area where mom becomes a teacher, and the child becomes a student.  Your home school space may have different rules than the rest of the house, like new rules about screen time.  If your child is older, they can create the rules and guidelines themselves.  Children will be more likely to own or meet expectations when they are the ones that set them.  Have them write rules down and display them in your “classroom”. 

How can I create a schedule for my kids?

This will look different depending on the age of your child, but for the sake of consistency and your sanity, write it down!  Creating a visual schedule and displaying it in your work area will provide structure.  After all, this is not exactly a vacation.  Children and parents should continue to wake up, shower, and get dressed as usual.  We should continue to eat meals at the same time, too. 

A visual schedule includes writing down activities for the day in the order you complete them.  You can also add time estimates, as well.  For example: Morning reading from 8:30-9, movement from 9-9:30, structured activity from 9:30- 10, and so on.

Do we have to follow the schedule every day?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children do best when routines are regular, predictable and consistent. Schedules provide a sense of security and therefore, can help reduce behavior problems.  So, for the most part yes, schedules should function as close to  “normal” as possible during the work/school week.  Repetition will also give you and your child a chance to get into a grove.

Consider using the same routines each day. For example, if your child is younger, use songs to signal a switch between activities, like a clean up song. Develop a routine where your child sets the table while you prepare lunch.  Draw a visual prompt to help: a circle where the plate would go, a fork, a circle for a cup, and so on. 

What if I have more than one child?

Something I have learned from my years at CMEE is that kids LOVE learning from kids!  Home school is an opportunity for siblings to bond.  Your older child can most likely teach (and manage) their younger sibling through the most challenging moments.  Children exhibit the highest form of mastery when they can teach someone else. 

Encourage your older child to read with their younger sibling and take time to engage in an activity together each day, like cooking. 

It will take coordination on your part mom; home schooling may require each child to have a unique schedule.  Older kids can read independently or work on the computer while you spend time with a younger child, and you can be available for questions while your little one naps, for example.

What about screen time?

Mom, you deserve a break!  Now is not the time to feel so guilty about screen time but of course. moderation is still important.  Luckily, many institutions, museums, libraries, and educational sites are sharing an abundance of content right now.  Be sure to check in with your local dance teacher, art teacher, or karate sensi to see if they are offering virtual programs.  Your child will be comforted by a familiar face and we need to support our local professionals more than ever. Lastly, do not be afraid to let your child “be bored” or explore independently.  In boredom children can discover new interests and talents.  We should also use the opportunity to explore our creativity, read that book, or learn something new.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Liz Bard, the Museum’s Director of Education.

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