Easy tips for “School at Home”

This past month has really been fraught with a number of changes. One of those changes is that your home now likely doubles as a school! All of the many (and crazy) changes have been difficult for kids and parents, alike. Here are some homeschool tips to help make you and your kid’s home/school life a little easier!

Turning life into learning

You can use the care and management of your household to teach a lot of lessons. Have kids help you cook! They can measure ingredients, and you can ask them to double and triple it in their heads. Have them determine the (rough) square footage of a room while they vacuum by counting feet. Have them help determine what snacks to order at your online grocery store with a $30 budget. Have younger kids match socks!

Individualize

It’s really difficult to individualize learning styles for 30 kids in a classroom, but one of the best parts of homeschooling is your children can learn how they learn best. Some students need quiet; some students need music. Kids sometimes work best independently while others may need lots of support. If you have a busy work schedule, enlist the help of your older children to assist younger siblings who might need additional help. Some very social kids may do better if they can work on some assignments with friends in a video chat session and others might want to do their work locked up alone in a room. If possible, accept their learning styles and foster them.  Many kids perform better when they can start later in the morning while others might be more productive in the afternoon. 

Cut the choices to two

There are a gazillion online resources (games, books, videos) out there for your kids to get all kinds of educational experiences. Focus on a few that will help your child maintain their literacy and math levels and review all old concepts. Also, this is a wonderful opportunity to turn kids’ education into one that is interest-based. If they have always wanted to teach themselves guitar, then let them go for it. If they have always wanted to learn to knit, order that ball of yarn and needles. They want to learn and build circuits, by all means cut them loose. Or check out our Play @ Home page, a curated list of STEAM learning at home. 

Assignments from schools

Many schools are providing educational materials and assignments for kids to review what they have learned this year. These can be great, but some can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Determine a healthy and stress-free amount for your kids and let that be your guide. Your children, whether they can express it or not are feeling a lot of the same stress as you are—something is off—something isn’t right with the world. This can cause a lot of anxiety. Then throw on a ton of schoolwork without the added support and instruction, along with parents who may still be working and stressed to boot, and you have a recipe for disaster. Give yourself and your kids grace and be okay with saying, my child has learned enough today.

Routine can be good

Just like it is for adults, a routine can be good, but again, as mentioned, be willing to adapt a bit and go with the flow. Having kids get up, eat, work on school, and have play time as a routine can be really effective for a lot of adults and kids. It may not be a positive for others. Know your kids, have reasonable expectations, a baseline routine, and then add in some wiggle room for the late bedtime to have a family movie night or a group chat with their friends.

This is a most-unusual time with a lot of uncontrollable variables. Do the best you can, give yourself and your kids some grace, and most importantly, spend time with each other. You will never get this extensive time with each other back, so enjoy. 

5 Fun-Filled Winter Activities to Foster Learning and Engagement


Guest Post by Harper Reid

 

Winter can sometimes feel dreary, but there’s plenty of fun to be had! The cold climate is an excellent opportunity for kids to explore more fun and exciting STEAM projects. These activities are available no matter the season, and kids are free to enjoy doing them wherever they are. With the emphasis on play, and having as much fun as possible, kids can make the most out of them as a learning experience. With that said, here are five fun-filled activities for your kids to enjoy!

 

1. Supercooling Liquids – Science

It’s common to show water boiling into steam to demonstrate states of matter because the slow process of water freezing into ice is rather boring. What if it wasn’t? Try Supercooling your water, or any other liquids you want to experiment with.

  • Place an unopened bottle of water or whatever liquid you have in the freezer (purified water works best).
  • Leave it undisturbed for around two and a half hours (the time may vary depending on your freezer). Check to see if it is still liquid. If it’s frozen, you will have to repeat this process and lower the duration.
  • Gently remove it from the freezer, take care not disturb it too much as you remove the lid.
  • Give it a quick shake, or pour it onto a piece of ice. Watch instant crystallisation before your eyes!

2. Arduino Programming – Technology

Kids have the best opportunity when it comes to learning to code. Small, cheap and portable work stations like Arduinos provide the chance to practice and explore all manners of projects.

  • Order an Arduino electronic platform. Most are available online or with electronic retailers.
  • Organise a fun, exciting and productive coding project. There are many resources online to help find inspiration.
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Image Source: Unsplash

3. Building with Lego – Engineering

Lego is a fantastic way to engage kids in creative projects that can challenge their skills in planning and problem-solving. There are countless amounts of pre-fab kits to build, but buying the general-purpose lego bricks is ideal for making whatever you want.

  • Set a challenge to build a certain structure, such as a tower or bridge.
  • Draw a plan, write what bricks are involved in building it and why.
  • Work in groups or solo to build it, and test its integrity so that new things can be learned about the process of building.

4. Mosaic Pictures – Art

For many kids, drawing is the common alternative when left inside or without a chance to play outside. Mosaics are a great way to exercise the creative freedom of making pictures, but with the added inspiration found in all the coloured tile pieces available.

  • Brainstorm ideas for a cool Mosaic picture.
  • Take the time to collect all the weird and wonderful tile pieces needed to make the right picture.
  • Have fun!

5. Fibonacci Craft – Mathematics

The amazing world of math is not always appreciated in its normal form. It takes a creative visual project to demonstrate just how our world is based on the rules of mathematics. Art and craft projects based on the Fibonacci sequence make great representations.

  • Grab a good compass, a pencil and all the craft material you may think you’ll need to make amazing Fibonacci art
  • There are plenty of online resources and tutorials to show you what is possible to make.
  • Match up your art with the sequence of numbers, showing the progression of the sequence.

 

All of these activities are great for winter and any other season where you have the time. Go out there, learn and have fun!

 

 

Author bio:

Harper grew up on books and board games, from the silly and fun to the clever and challenging! When not busy writing and meeting deadlines, she and her friends love to play Scrabble or Scattergories. Get to know more about Harper through her written pieces on Harper Reid. 

Creative projects to keep busy while “sheltering in place”

There is no mistaking that we are in a very unusual and some might even say scary time, but we have to remember to look for silver linings and to control what we can control and rest in the knowledge that we have done just that. One of the silver linings of the “shelter-in-place” directives is there may be more time in the day for your kids and for your family to incorporate things into your new norm that provide fulfillment. 

Creative activities are often one of the first things we as adults let go of when our lives get busy, and it is one of the best things we can do for critical thinking, focus, incubating ideas and solutions, and improvement of mental health. And as for our kids, we know they love being creative and have the most amazing imaginations. Here are a couple challenges for you and your children to do together or separately. They can modified very easily for different aged children by throwing in some math and other challenges for the older kiddos and simplifying it for the younger.

Landscaping Challenge

A lot of kids don’t know anything about landscaping and the process that goes into designing a great outdoor space. There are a number of challenges that going into landscape design.  Encourage your child to create a landscape design for your home. If your home’s landscaping is already in tip-top shape, have them design their own terrarium or succulent garden, or have them create their dream backyard with a swimming pool and a skate park.

This is video you can watch with your kiddos – it is a peek at what a landscape designer does during a typical day! This video created by Lowes, gives the basics on what to consider when you are creating a great outdoor space. Google images will give you hundreds of landscaping plans to give your budding designers a place to start drawing and planning.

Sculpture Challenge

Recycling is not only good for the planet, but it can also be a great medium for creating beautiful and fun pieces of art. Kids can make tree sculptures using old palettes; bottle cap lid mosaics can be extremely interesting and fun to create. Even paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be used to make visually appealing abstract artforms.  Whatever you are collecting in your bin is sure to spark the imagination of your youngsters, and if the materials don’t get their creative juices flowing there is always pinterest.

Our kids are rarely encouraged or allowed to play with their food, but sometimes, it is MANDATORY! Make this edible sculpting clay and your kids will have a ton of fun playing with and eating their food!  After washing their hands (for a long, long time), they can take a can of white frosting and a bag of powdered sugar and make a sugary medium for art creation. All they have to do is gradually add and mix the powdered sugar into the frosting until it is too difficult to stir. Shazam, you and your kids have an edible and moldable medium! They can create some minimalist sculptures or add some food coloring and create all sorts of colorful and delicious art forms.

Museum Challenge

Everyone loves field trips, and we love them even more when we can’t go on them!  Fortunately, there are a number of museums that allow visitors to virtually check out a number of their exhibits. How about each week your family chooses a new museum. Each person has to pick out their Top 3 pieces in the museum and share what they are and why they like them!

  1. Smithsonian Natural History Museum
  2. Science Museum
  3. Google Arts & Culture (Links to a number of museums)
  4. Eternal Egypt

Shelter in place can make many of us, kids included, feel confined and anxious. But, using this new found time together in positive productive ways can lead to new norms where families feel closer and more connected. Try a few of these missions and see if they don’t help you and yours relax and enjoy hunkering down (at least for the time being).