Updated: Feb 6, 2022
So, you're managing our classes at home now? Don’t worry, I’m going to do my best to help you use the tools and tricks of a lightly seasoned teacher as well as some pointers I got from the home school community. You are in a hybrid situation, so I think that you are going to see the best of both worlds manifest right inside of your home. The curriculum is already done for you, assignments and activities are made by professional educators, discussion remains challenging, and grading is done for you. Now you get to collaborate with us on creating the environment at home that we usually do for your children at school. The beauty in this is that schooling can be done at your pace and there is more time for family, now it’s just about adjusting. Throughout each of the 10 tips I have underlined words that emphasize, what I like to call "virtuous leadership" traits, which I try to teach and nurture within my classroom. Keep these things in mind and integrate some of the family virtues that you would like to focus on. In my class I strive to teach the whole person, body, mind, and soul, I find that this is the best and ONLY way to learn anything when receiving a Catholic education whether that be in a school or at home.
Here are 10 Tips for Creating Optimal School Success From Home!
1. Get dressed! Don’t be a lazy bone, just because the kids are at home doesn’t mean they don’t have things to accomplish. Getting dressed is a physical routine for us that tells our brains, we are ready to go for the day.
2. Create a schedule! This is what makes the school day go with fluidity and structure, we know what is expected of us and how to partake in the varying requirements of the day. While the timing of the day may not be as precise, your child still needs to know what they are going to do each day so that things don’t pile up. Here is what I recommend doing.
a. Set a time which you will wake up every day.
b. Get dressed and eat breakfast.
c. Log on to the learning system that your teacher has instructed.
d. Check each class to keep track of new procedures, notes, lectures, power points, assignments, and assessments.
e. Create a schedule/calendar/to do list for the tasks that need to be accomplished with due dates.
f. Prioritize how you will accomplish it all each day.
g. Make contact with teachers with some sort of regularity so they know you are active online and aware of what is being asked of you.
3. Make your own work desk! At school the students come into my classroom and know where their work space is, this routine is just as necessary at home too. A space that your child can call their own that has all of the things they need to accomplish educational tasks. The great thing about this is that at home, they can actually be creative with their desk space and personalize it. I know that I feel more motivated by having a bright and cheery place to do my daily work and my students often tell me how much they love my room because the windows are open and the room is decorated.
4. Learn about your learning style! Not everyone is going to be great at online learning. One of the best things I did for myself as a lifelong student was assess how I learn best. I try to do this with every student at the beginning of the year so that I can vary up how a lesson or activities will be delivered. Each learner can help bring the lessons to life for themselves through self-awareness and being proactive.
a. Are you an interpersonal learner? Create a group video chat with friends in your class to discuss the lesson. Visual learners may want to draw out graphic organizers, physical learners will probably want the notes printed out, not just on a screen, so they can highlight and write notes on them, and auditory learners can put some beautiful music on in the background...you get the idea!
b. Here is the link to assess which learning style best suits you. http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml
5. Educational screen time vs Leisure screen time!
Time management is a skill that we strive to teach our students every day. We use technology in class daily but in regulated and focused ways. A learning curve which will have to be taken with a sense of self discipline is using technology for learning and only allowing minimal time for distraction during the hours set aside for schoolwork. We all need little break here and there to check emails, Facebook, or send the text message, but we don’t want to go down the rabbit hole.
a. Create screen time standards, you don't have to stand over their shoulder but I highly encourage you to do some monitoring and checking in.
b. Set alarms for break times.
c. Remove distractions when needed, there are ways on your phone to regulate certain apps.
6. Adjust expectations! The school day at home is not going to look at all like the school day at school and that is OKAY! Allow the students some autonomy in how they plan to get their work done, I just recommend touching base to see what that plan looks like. This type of ownership can be a very good thing for maturation and success, but they need the scaffolding that is usually provided in the classroom. For example, if they wake up and get going at 8:00 am they may be able to accomplish all of their tasks by lunch time depending on what the teachers have prepared. Obviously this will vary from day to day depending on work.
7. Take time for leisure and exercise! Even the school day has time for lunch with friends, socializing in passing periods, and time to exercise. We need this to stay healthy, positive, and joyful. Each child should give themselves permission after having accomplished a few tasks to do something that they like doing. Go outside and get fresh air! Pick up that book you’ve been wanting to, draw a beautiful picture, go on a run, or help mom & dad out around the house… which leads me to my next point.
8. Incorporate chores into the new daily routine! Many home-schooling families have recommended doing this and I’m taking that wisdom to share with you. Let it be a part of their daily responsibilities while being at home, this can be helpful to you and remind them of the role they play within your family. If you have younger children at home have the older kids tutor them or help with work.
9. Prayer is a must! In my class we pray every single day and every couple of weeks we spend time together in the chapel. Encourage this and set time aside to even pray with them. I know what you may be thinking, "my high schooler doesn’t want to pray with me", and I want to emphatically say, yes, they do! I have heard them say that they treasure the time that they do have in prayer with you and desire it when it is not there. They want to know that you believe in Christ too and you are the primary catechist for them so I want to empower you to pray daily with them. It can be an Our Father, rosary, chaplet, or just offering up daily intentions which we so desperately need now anyways.
10. Have fun! I spend every other day with your students on the schedule that we use and your kids are fun, interesting, and thoughtful individuals, as their teacher I just facilitate and mold those opportunities. I hope that you get to have more time to have some of the discussions that I have with them in class because they are powerfully curious. Plan simple but enjoyable things you can do together while at home like family lunches, picnics, small projects, etc. Don’t be afraid of or weary of all this time at home, enjoy your children!
I hope that you found this helpful and if you need any resources, discussion topics, or activities for making this time fruitful you know how to get in touch. Keep checking in with me to see ways that you can also bring the Catholic faith into your home for feast days and this season of Lent. Praying for you and your children!
Peace & Good,