Many of us are stuck at home with children out of school due to the coronavirus. With it came a slew of social media articles with tips, tricks, and activities for “homeschooling” during these times. These activities have been great for getting our kids busy and active during the day, but let’s take it a step further and talk about how to facilitate these activities like a teacher.
When children go to school during the day, the teacher doesn’t simply provide them with directions and then sit back and watch. They facilitate learning and they are pros! Here are some things you can do and talk about while working through activities at home.
A great way to keep children busy and learning is to have your child write their own story. Even the young preschool age children can do this by drawing pictures and verbally telling you what is happening in the story. Now to facilitate like a teacher, you can encourage your child to brainstorm and plan their story before writing it. Talk about the basic parts of a story like the characters, setting, and plot. Brainstorm ideas for stories, different characters, and how each characters might contribute to the story. You can help your child organize these ideas by writing everything down for them or having them write the ideas down if they’re old enough.
Then, once the story is written, you can facilitate a discussion about the story that they wrote. Ask open-ended questions that encourage your child to think deeply about the story such as:
Why did you decide to write about that plot?
Why did the character make that choice in the story?
What would happen if…?
Tell me more about this character.
Another activity that I have seen floating around social media is different types of science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experiments. These activities are a wonderful way to keep your children engaged at home. Now, how can we facilitate them like a pro teacher?
Start by talking about the experiment and what is going to happen. What kind of experiment are you doing and why are you doing it? Then, guide your child to make predictions about different possible outcomes. I would encourage you or your child to write down the predictions, so that you can come back to them later. Talk about the steps along the way, what is happening as you go, and continue to make mini predictions as you go along. Once the experiment is over, evaluate what happened during the experiment and why that happened. Ask your child questions such as:
What was the final outcome?
Was your prediction right or wrong?
Why didn’t this prediction work?
How did that happen?
What would have happened if… ?
If I’ve learned one thing as a parent this week, it’s that the kids eat nonstop! Involving your children in the cooking is another great way to keep them learning and engaged. You can simply read a recipe and have them follow it, or you can facilitate cooking like a pro teacher! For snacks, you can build in a learning opportunity by showing them where to find the nutritional facts and providing a directive of how to choose the snack. For example, with younger preschool children, you can have them find a snack that starts with a particular letter or is a particular color.
When it comes to facilitating like a teacher while cooking or baking, math and language are at the forefront. You can talk about the different measurements, what a dash is called and why it’s used, and why the order of the recipe matters. You can ask questions along the way such as:
What do you think the egg does to the recipe?
What would happen if we added too much/too little water?
Why is it important to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately before combining them?
Why do you think the temperature matters? What would happen if the oven/ stove temperature was too hot or too cold?
Teaching and learning doesn’t have to be a big thought out activity each time. Here some examples to help you through the little daily tasks:
While getting the mail, talk about how many pieces of mail you received, the shapes of the envelopes, which is thicker/ thinner or smaller/bigger.
During meal times, talk about your food, what you’re eating, and different adjectives to describe the food. Encourage your child to use their 5 senses while eating - talk about how it smells, how it looks, what it sounds like while chewing, how it feels, and, of course, how it tastes.
If your child is engaged in online learning, have them talk about what they are doing and what they learned. Ask them what they already knew and what was new information.
Go for a walk around the neighborhood and talk about the different colors you see and the different shapes you see. Then compare and contrast what you see. For example, the different shades of yellow houses, the different textures of leaves, what animals might live where, and why they’ve chosen that habitat.
During these uncertain times, it can seem like a daunting task to continue working at home and playing the role of teacher for your children out of school. Activities and experiments may work for some parents, while just getting by might work for others. Regardless of your plans, embedding some questions and language throughout your day will help your children stay focused, engaged, and ready to learn.
Children are used to having a daily routine at school. While your day doesn’t have to follow their school schedule exactly, it’s important to establish predictable activities and routines so they know what to expect. Preparing your child for the day brings normalcy to their life and can help curb anxiety as they won’t feel uncertain about what is coming next.
If your child is away from preschool because of the coronavirus, you might be wondering how you can make the most of this time and support their learning. The good news is, learning can happen anywhere. Even a moment that might seem small to you, like talking with them at breakfast, can help you learn more about how they see the world and encourage reasoning and reflection.
The current situation around the coronavirus can feel like a scary time for children. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now. When a child stays at home, away from school, it only amplifies their uncertainty. Children should be aware of what’s going on in the world so they aren’t confused when they hear about it on the news or from a sibling or friend.