How to teach my child at home? [PRESCHOOL & ELEMENTARY]
Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. Today we are talking about how to teach your child at home. There are several reasons why you might have to suddenly teach your child at home. There could be an emergency that closes schools or you could simply not like the school your child is currently attending. Whatever the reason, you need a plan to make sure your child is not missing out. We hope to help you with that plan today.
Please be aware that this article is focused more on younger children of preschool or early elementary age, as this is the age I have had most experience with. I have been a teacher of this age group for over a decade, so hopefully I can give you some support with your last minute homeschooling routine!!
These are my tips for teaching your child at home
Get in a Routine
As someone who has taught young children for a long time, I can see how important routine is at this age. In my classes, if there is a change in routine, it can really effect some of my children’s focus and even wellbeing. Some children get worried if they don’t know what is coming next, whereas others benefit greatly from the structure.
It is important to maintain some kind of routine whilst teaching your child at home. I am not saying that you exactly replicate a school routine but that you come up with one that works for you at home. If you let your child walk around the house in pyjamas all day, this might make it harder for them to get ready to learn. Wearing clothes similar to school would help get them in the right frame of mind.
To make this more fun, you should sit down with your child and decide on the daily routine together. It should include things such as getting dressed, eating breakfast, and helping with some daily chores. Yes, many children love pretending to be adults and helping around the house. These will be great learning experiences in themselves!!
At this age I wouldn’t schedule out exact subject areas such as Math or Writing! I would schedule some times you call ‘play with Dad’ or ‘play with Mum’. These times should not make up for more than one hour a day, only to be extended if your child shows interest to continue.
I would have one-half hour session to play with Mum or Dad in the morning and one in the afternoon. After doing the research recommended below on what your child needs to learn, you can attach these areas to the sessions you plan in a week. You might have one Number related session in the morning and one expressive arts session in the afternoon, for example. This is more than enough.
Think of it this way. These half-hour sessions are opportunities to teach your child a new skill or encourage a fun way for them to practice a skill they already know. The rest of the time outside of this, you are giving your child time to practice this independently and apply this in their own way. If these sessions are fun enough, your child will often naturally want to continue beyond the allocated thirty minutes.
Make it Age Appropriate
I would recommend finding out about the early childhood curriculum being used in your area. To give the United Kingdom as an example, they use the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) curriculum for preschool and early elementary age children. You could ask your child’s school for help here.
When you have discovered the curriculum being used in your area for the age of your child, you can use the wonders of the internet to learn more about it. For the EYFS example above, I would simply Google ‘EYFS Parent guide’ and browse around until you find a guide that you like. These parent orientated guides will explain the curriculum in plain English and even help you understand things you could do at home.
By reading these guides you will start to understand the different things your child should be learning at their age. This is important so that any activities you do are age appropriate and not going to frustrate your child.
Make it Fun and Meaningful!
The big mistake I see with many parents of young children is that they often think that teaching their child involves sitting at a table and formally teaching them. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of parents also get stuck using worksheets, something I rarely use at this age group.
Young children learn best from practical and fun activities that have meaning. They should be learning without even realizing most of the time.
If I asked you to sit down and write a bunch of numbers for no reason I don’t think you would be too willing! It’s the same for children, you need to take what you want them to learn and put it behind an activity that gives it meaning and purpose. You will be amazed at how self motivated your child will be to finish such activities.
I want to give you some real-world examples to give you an idea what I mean.
It would be tempting to sit down and drill your child with number flashcards. But by turning this into a fun game with a purpose behind it, your child will be far more likely to take an interest.
The Number Inspector
Young children love role play, and pretending they are adults. Give your child a clipboard and a pencil and tell them they are the number inspector. Ask them to find as many numbers around your house as they can. If you used flashcards to introduce the numbers, you can simply hide these around your house for your child to find. If they are more familiar with numbers, ask them to find numbers in the environment. It could be numbers on a TV remote, for example. They could have a go at writing the numbers they find on their clipboard. Number inspectors have to record what they find after all!!
By taking on the role of the number inspector you will find a lot of children will enjoy practising numbers much more.
I have another article on this site showing how to use a pack of cards to teach some Math concepts.
In the EYFS curriculum they don’t call this area Science but ‘understanding the world’ instead. Most curriculums at his age will include Science, but it might not be a standalone subject.
The idea of ‘change’ is something often covered at this age. The best way to show a child the idea of material change is to do cooking with them. They can see the starting ingredients, what happens when you mix them and also when you cook or bake into the finished result. As you are going through each step, talk with your child about what is happening and why.
When encouraging your child to write it is best to make sure this writing has a purpose behind it. As with the number example above, I often like to involve role play and think of a role that would naturally include writing. You could make a pretend restaurant in your house and ask your child to be the waiting staff and write down people’s orders. Or a policeman writing out parking tickets. You can think of what your child is already interested in and choose a role for that. If your child is dinosaur crazy, you could make a dinosaur zoo and ask them to write down their own names for each dinosaur.
I have a fully fledged article about teaching writing on this website, I would encourage you to check it out if you want more details on this subject.
Make it Natural
Another thing I see a lot of parents doing is worrying too much that their child is learning something right there and then. They might be playing a game and they pause and start drilling their child ‘what colour is this?’ and such like. Going over the vocabulary carefully and making sure their child knows it there and then. Not only does this take away from the learning experience, this is also annoying and even demoralizing for the child.
When working on something with your child just do it in a natural way. The idea is that as your child is naturally exposed to different words and ideas, they will start to pick them up and begin getting a deeper understanding. No need to pause and ‘drill’ a child 🙂 The more important thing is to surround your child with a language rich environment on a daily basis.
I have just given you a few ideas above. You will be able to find a multitude of amazing examples online too. Spend some time searching out some amazing Pinterest or Instagram accounts to do with home learning. This will give you the inspiration needed to provide the best possible learning experiences at home for your child. Even as an experienced teacher, I find nothing better than to get together with others and share ideas together. Several minds are always better than one 🙂
Below is one example to get you started! Fairy Dust Teaching has some amazing and very creative ideas 🙂
For the time outside of your two half hourly ‘play with Mum or Dad’ sessions, you want to make sure your child has a variety of resources to interact and play with independently. You can relate this to the activities you did in your sessions. Maybe you did a cookie making activity, then you could have play dough with cookie cutters as one of the resources available when your child is playing. Other than this, just make sure your child has access to a good variety of fun resources they can use as they see fit.
I am sure that you have a lot of toys at home already, these will provide a great starting point. You also want to buy some supplies to increase the scope of the activities you can do. This includes making sure you have such things as scissors, paper, paints, pencils and even clay. If you need play dough, it is easy to make this yourself with flour, water and salt. Sometimes a little oil and coloring too 🙂
Here are some examples of things I would buy, you can click the images to go view them over at Amazon.
If your situation allows, using your outside environment will be vital. Not only does it provide a multitude of excellent learning experiences, but it also helps to change it up for your child and break the monotony of staying at home.
In its simplest form, simply visit your local park or playground. Do some fun activities with your children. Explore the area together and discuss what you can see. You could go on an insect hunt! The possibilities are endless. Don’t underestimate the educational opportunities your outside environment brings.
Take your child on trips to the supermarket. Get them involved by holding the shopping list or helping to pick items off of the shelves!
To Wrap Up!
Hopefully, after reading this article you have a better idea how to work with your young child at home. The main takeaway I want you to have is that you are not sitting at a table and teaching things formally. You can do this from time to time, but this should not be your main method of teaching. You should be setting up learning experiences that cover the areas you want your child to learn more about. These experiences will be fun and meaningful to your child. These activities will help your child love the learning they are doing at home.
If you need further advice, please leave a comment in the comments section below and I will try to get back to you. I am a teacher, not a master writer or journalist 🙂 I am sure there are things I did not cover or explain well. Feel free to let me know so I can clarify further 🙂