We help scrappy teams, including schools, MacGyver cheap technologies into comprehensive systems. Since COVID-19 has a number of families turning into homeschools, it seemed only right to take some of those systems and organize them into a workable plan for parents, in particular parents who are now working from home.
1. Flip the Class
When you think back to your own school days, you probably remember learning in the classroom and doing assignments at home. In a flipped class model, the students learn at home online and work with the teacher on assignments in the classroom. This allows teachers to focus on groups of kids that need more help. In your case, it is going to allow you to focus on that document you need to turn in by 5pm.
2. Plan for Proficiency
Flipped classes are often “self-paced.” I put that word in quotations because there are expectations for progress, but not all students need to progress at the same rate. Instead, focus on a certain level of content mastery. Define what it is, and require your kids to achieve it. Otherwise, they are going to come to you after 30 minutes and say, “I’m all done.”
2. Prep Your Materials
Hopefully, your school is already providing you with resources and learning benchmarks you can use to help make sure your kid stays on track. You may want to augment these with your own
busy work resources to help your child stay busy while you are on that conference call.
3. Organize Everything
Teachers use Google Classroom to post announcements, learning resources, lessons, assignments, and quizzes. You are going to use it to house and organize all the work you are front-loading for your home school and to keep tabs on what your kids are getting done. Your kids will need new email accounts separate from what they may already have at school. (Read this getting started guide.)
4. Set Clear and Realistic Expectations
Your kids cannot do homeschool for as long as they do school-school. About 40-60% of class time involves managing behaviors and pacing. Set clear hours, make them high at first, and hold to them, but be ready to adjust as you need to. This is where self-pacing becomes really helpful. If they finish their assignments for the day, they can move on to the assignments for tomorrow.
5. Be Patient
Do you know why licensed educators hire tutors for their own children? Because all parents are idiots. Of course, that is not really the case, but kids do have a hard time taking advice from their parents, no matter how qualified they are. There is just too much “stuff” with families. Frustration about a math problem can quickly turn into an argument about why you won’t let your 12 year old play Grand Theft Auto. If you find yourself (or your child) losing their cool, make an excuse to check something at work (have a pretend conference call) so that everyone can calm down.
Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a nonprofit that has a treasure trove of complete lessons, organized by subject and grade. Create a teacher account for yourself, and then add new classes. Khan Academy also uses a proficiency model when it comes to advancing from one unit to the next.
YouTube: YouTube is not just for cat videos. Teachers use it all the time. (Here are some educational playlists.) Make sure to follow a video with some kind of assignment or assessment whenever possible. Make sure they watched and understood it.
Quizlet: Anything worth teaching is worth assessing (to paraphrase Tamra Stambaugh of Vanderbilt University). You can create a Quizlet account to create and assign quizzes, or you can assign quizzes others have created. Some educators even “flip” Quizlet, having kids their create and take their own quizzes based on the unit being covered.
Kahoot!: They say you have not truly learned something until you teach it, so why not have your kids teach the family what they have learned? You can motivate them to do a good job by having them create a Kahoot! “game” to see who was really paying attention. It will be a nice alternative to Netflix.
Duolingo: No habla español? Duolingo is a widely used language-learning app that can help keep your kids’ language skills fresh until they get back into the classroom. You are going to need to spring for the paid plan if you want your kids to be able to work for more than a few minutes at a time, but there is a free 7-day trial.
This also gives you an opportunity to teach your children some skills they do not always get in school, like how to greet a professional, how to ace an interview, or how to make an elevator pitch. You may not be a professional teacher, but if you have kids, you are an educator, so take advantage of this moment to pass along what you know.