You’re ready to pull out what’s left of your now greying hair (seriously, this might be my new color).
Some days, you want to barricade yourself behind a closed door at the thought of spending additional weeks juggling work, health worries, financial concerns, parenting, and educating your children.
You need some tips on how to handle homeschooling your child during the coronavirus pandemic.
The good news is that teaching your child at home during this unprecedented and stressful time can be made easier and less overwhelming with these quick tips from Fit Learning St. Louis Director Janice Smith.
#1. Keep it Simple: Work on Fluency Instruction and Focus on Math and Reading Fundamentals
If your learner needs reading help, make flashcards to teach consonant and vowel sounds. Knowing the sounds that letter makes is an important (and necessary) first step to learning to read fluently.
Does your child cringe every time it’s time to work on math homework? Keep it simple by teaching quick (think automatic) answers to any number plus one, then plus two. Now, make some flashcards (yes, more flashcards!) for multiplication facts. Start with numbers times 2 and don’t move on until the answers come quickly, without hesitation. There are good free math apps (and gobs of websites) that can help with this, too. Bonus, make it a competition and time yourself answering the flashcards. Then, set a goal for your child to match (or beat!) your score.
I promise, algebra and multi-digit computation will become easier and be less intimidating when the basics are mastered first.
#2. Quality Over Quantity: A Cumulative Hour a Day of Schoolwork is Better than Long Stretches of Homework and Whiny Kids
When my kids were younger I’d set the timer on the microwave and make housecleaning a speed game. “Let’s see if we can get this room picked up in 7 minutes!” I’d always pick some odd- number that sounded shorter than a round number. Doesn’t 10-minutes sound so much longer than seven? For older learners, try 17 minutes instead of 20…
Seven-minutes of focused effort on anything, cleaning or learning, is often much more productive and fun than longer stretches that lend themselves to distraction, fatigue, and, yep, whining. In fact, short spurts of learning mean more opportunities to build in lots of short (and active!) breaks into the day.
#3. Keep Fluency Instruction Short
A few hours a day of precision learning (yep, they can be totally done by lunch!) coupled with experiential learning like baking, exploring, building, and creating is enough. Keeping it short helps everyone in the family keep their wits about them and not get overly anxious about homeschooling.
#4. Reward Right: Establish a Reward System Learning Using Applied Behavior Analysis Techniques
This is a big one! I encourage you to spend some time thinking about how many times you have to redirect your child, correct their behavior, or give them instructions. You know, all the “Do this… and “Don’t do that’s”…. and “Why are you doing that’s?” Now, try shifting your focus to providing your child with positive feedback, rather than corrective or negative feedback. This one change will dramatically improve your child’s behavior, your spirit, and the culture of your home for years to come.
If you wait until your child complains, whines, or refuses before offering a reward for compliance, that’s bribery. However, establishing a reward before or during the instruction is just a smart contingency. Ka-ching!
#5. Schedule Savvy: Organize Your Education Schedule So That Fun Follows Precision Learning
It’s just like the tried and true principle of first eat your veggies, then eat dessert. Try to limit or control your child’s access to all the cool stuff they value, like screen time for example. Then, allow them to have it if they are a good listener, have a good attitude, and their assignments have been completed, etc. When giving rewards, it important to consider how much of a reward you’re providing. The right amount is just enough that it’s satisfying but little enough that your child will continue to work to get more.
#6. Take Turns Teaching: Kids Love to be the Teacher
One of the ways that we test for mastery of a concept at Fit Learning is allowing the learner to act as the teacher. If you can explain what you’ve learned to someone else, it’s a good indication that you truly understand the concept. At Fit Learning we provide fluency instruction, so we want our students to master basic concepts before moving on to more challenging ones.
#7. Welcome Wrong: Wrong Answers are a Necessary Part of the Fluency Instruction
Mistakes truly are a great opportunity to learn. That’s why we call mistakes “learning opportunities” or “not yets” at Fit Learning. Errors inform what hasn’t been learned yet. For more information on why mistakes are okay, see our other blog post.
Another Resource on Homeschooling and Parenting the Coronavirus Pandemic
Looking for more great resources to help you survive, uh, I mean thrive, as a parent-educator during a global pandemic? Fit Learning Founding Director Dr. Kimberly Berens’ advice was recently featured in the New York Times:
Homeschooling During a Pandemic is Challenging, but You’re Not Alone. We’re Here to Help Your Child by Providing Fluency Instruction Online
Fit Learning St. Louis provides online precision teaching services for children. During our online sessions, we can help your child become fluent in math, reading, and logic. Our talented learning coaches are ready to help your child catch up in these subject areas by providing an assessment and seeing where there are deficits. Then, they create an educational curriculum for your child that will help them re-learn these concepts so they can move on to more challenging ones in the future.
Begin Online Fluency Instruction
If you are ready for some additional support homeschooling your child, we can help. We provide online services in all subject areas to help your child catch up to their grade level. Begin fluency instruction in St. Louis by following these steps:
- Contact Fit Learning St. Louis and speak with our Director about online services.
- Schedule an online intake assessment for your student.
- Begin online educational services and watch your child’s fluency increase and their confidence grow!
Other Educational Services Offered at Fit Learning in St. Louis
In addition to providing online educational services, our St. Louis area learning lab provides a variety of individualized educational instruction opportunities. Our services for school-age children include Fit Math, Fit Reading, Fit Logic, Fit Penmanship, and Fit Homeschool. We also offer the preschool program, Lil Fits, for very young learners. Our coaching staff writes articles for our education blog that provide relevant educational tips and information.
Your child doesn’t have to fall further behind academically during this pandemic. And you can have some support as you work to educate your children. Our staff understand learning. More importantly, we understand how to make learning both fun and efficient. If you’ve considered an online tutor, precision learning may be a better fit. Please contact our Creve Coeur precision teaching clinic to learn more about our wonderful learning coaches and our academic services. Let’s help your child’s learning get back on track!
Janice Smith, Director
As director and owner of Fit Learning St. Louis, Janice brings more than fifteen years of experience in the field of behavior science and education. She previously worked as an administrator for Special School District of St. Louis County, leading a team of behavior analysts and attending dozens of IEP meetings in her capacity as an area coordinator. During a ten-year residency in mid-Missouri she diversified her experience by providing behavioral support services in a university-based clinic setting, family homes, private schools, residential treatment placements, and daycare centers (and nurtured her love for documentary film at the True/False film festival held annually in Columbia, MO).
She graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (where she met her husband) before obtaining her master’s degree in behavioral science from the University of Nevada-Reno. A former foster parent, Janice served on the board of directors of Heart of Missouri CASA and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri. She has two daughters.