Lori S. Couch is an adjunct instructor in the VCU School of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning. She also teaches second grade at a local school division and is a former homeschooling mom. Below are her Top Five Tips for Parents Who Are Teaching at Home.
1. Create a schedule as far as possible (children thrive on routines); include “brain breaks.”
“Brain breaks” include a brisk walk/jog around the yard, 5-10 minutes of calisthenics or stretching and deep-breathing (indoors or out), or a family dance party.
2. Talk with your children about what they are learning to deepen understanding.
Avoid “What did you learn?” type questions that may elicit answers of “Nothing” or “I don’t know.” Instead, begin with, “Tell me about …” or “How does _____ fit in with what you already know about …”
3. Take virtual field trips to enrich content (or just for fun!).
Wander through Quebec's Ice Hotel, check out the treasures of The National Museum of Natural History, explore world habitats with The Nature Conservancy, hang out with the animals at the San Diego Zoo, or roam the grounds at Richmond's own Maymont.
4. Capitalize on time together to support your child in learning about things he/she wonders about and wants to learn.
5. READ, READ, READ (children should engage daily in reading to self, reading to someone else, and being read to).
Children of all ages benefit from being read aloud to by a fluent reader – read to your children every day! Children should also have time to read on their own. Running out of books? Check out your local library's website for access to hundreds of digital texts or visit one of the many websites that offer free access to online storybooks – StorylineOnline, OxfordOwl, The Library of Congress (Yes! There is a children's section) and more! Children should also be reading to someone to increase their own fluency – this can be done with a family member at home or virtually with friends and relatives using Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.