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Teaching Tools to Help You Homeschool Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
by Charisse Sims
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March 18, 2020

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Teaching Tools to Help You Homeschool Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Charisse Sims and family
Courtesy of Charisse Sims

Black Love family! Many of us are practicing social distancing, which includes being trapped at home with our kids (who we love), while schools are closed. But this also brings on stress on how to keep our kids stimulated and growing intellectually. Your Black Love creator/founders are married filmmakers and parents of three boys under four years old! We read to our kids daily and try to fill their little minds with knowledge and good old-fashioned values, but we are not teachers.  

At a loss for exactly how to proceed with our babies during this time of cabin fever and unlimited snacks, we tapped an expert. Our friend Charisse Sims, the director and owner of Hidden Gems Preschool in Inglewood, is a mama of six ranging from 1-year-old twins to a 10-year-old! She has college degrees in Child Development, Behavioral Science, and Early Childhood Education, just to name a few. She also has 17 years of teaching Pre-K to first grade, in addition to parenting and educating her own kiddos.  

Below, Miss Charisse, as we call her in our house, shares resources, tips, and love for folks struggling to parent and teach (and work) like us. 

-Codie Elaine Oliver, Editor-In-Chief 

I am sending love to all my instant homeschool parents. Also, honoring and appreciating those that have been doing this and sending immense praise and appreciation to our teachers! These are CRAZY times! But kind of exciting as well!

I’m looking forward to all of the learning and growth that will come from all of this. Every challenge you experience is an opportunity for learning, which really puts us in the same boat as all of our gems at home and those continuing their education remotely. To stay encouraged here are a few tips I wanted to share:

First off, you can’t do this without practicing self-love and self-compassion! Be easy on yourself, you are NOT a teacher, and you don’t have to try to be one today, tomorrow or the next day. Please trust that you and your child are uniquely made for one another, and you can figure this out in a way that is harmonious to your household. Remember, it won’t flow if you try to be something you’re not. Keep in mind that teachers went to school for years to learn how to teach, then acquired internships and practicum hours. Throughout their learning process, they were able to make mistakes and experience hands-on learning from mentors.

Be easy on yourself, you are NOT a teacher, and you don’t have to try to be one today, tomorrow or the next day.

You’ve launched into this new role with no education, little practice, and without any mentors. So be easy on yourself and use your resources for virtual mentorship. Secondly, I know a general concern is, “How do I stay sane?!” It’s a huge job to raise children, let alone teach them, manage your household, and work all at once. It’s completely insane because those are literally several different jobs! But my piece of advice is not to worry about doing it ALL. Prioritizing is key. 

Charisse Sims and family
Courtesy of Charisse Sims

Maybe a clean home and clean laundry aren’t the top priority; perhaps it becomes the priority when everyone is running around naked because there are no clean clothes. Maybe even then, we’re not going anywhere, so let’s enjoy the freedom! It’s definitely possible to work and watch kids, but it’s near impossible to do both well. To get through this, try prioritizing by the week, day, or even by the hour. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done with whatever the accomplishment was for the day. 

Get your mind, right!: Stress usually stems from fear: The fear of not knowing or, as my husband always says, when reality doesn’t match our blueprint.” Let’s try to make your blueprint realistic. If you plan to occupy your child the entire day by taking full responsibility to ensure they are meeting all of the standards. While simultaneously teaching your gems, these lesson plans that were sent home, get all of your work done, and maintain a clean house. On top of that, your child is NOT supposed to get bored, have a meltdown (or two), lose it, and bounce around the house? Then trust me YOU WILL GO INSANE! 

Related: 10 Black Children’s Book Authors to Read (Right Now!)

If you realize the only thing you need to do is make space for your child to thrive by creating a safe and happy environment that allows them an opportunity to do all the things at home, it may be a little easier. Let’s be like Dad this time around (no disrespect dads), but let’s keep it real! When we leave them with dad and most of us, know the main goal is to KEEP THE CHILD ALIVE! Dad makes sure they eat, although it may be skittles; at least they ate! The house may be a mess with pillows everywhere, in an attempt to “childproof” the house, but it’s no broken bones over here. My point is, change your blueprint. Go easy on yourself and do WHAT YOU CAN.

Don’t forget to take advantage of your teacher: They are still working! Many of your kids’ schools have created Google classrooms or Facebook groups. They are also hosting live sessions with their students or utilizing platforms where they can be reached. If you have any questions about it, don’t be afraid to reach out. Not to mention, this is a great time to reinforce and support your child’s independence. Explain to them that you’re in the same boat. Don’t get mad or frustrated if they don’t understand the assignment or need help. Empathize with them to let your little gems know that you are learning too. 

Credit: ShutterStock
Credit: ShutterStock

Let the goal of being resourceful, creative, and persistent be the REAL lesson more than the actual homework assignment itself. If y’all just can’t figure it out, then don’t! Do something else that relieves stress and promotes healthy learning differently. The greatest part about this is that your child, who may not be great at books, math, or whatever, IS GREAT AT SOMETHING! Use this time to figure out exactly what it is. Maybe it’s cooking or creating content like you! This could be the time to launch their YouTube channel or Tik Tok account (with the proper safety precautions and parental controls, of course).

You and your child are uniquely made for one another, and you can figure this out in a way that is harmonious to your household.

Teach excellent communication: Talk with your child about the feelings they are experiencing during this time. Relate to them, hear them, and make space for them to be transparent. You may learn a lot that you didn’t know until now that can help you become a better parent. My daughter’s teacher has encouraged us to have a community circle with our children. If you don’t know what this is, ask your child; you don’t have to be the teacher this entire time. Switch places and allow your child to be the teacher for a while. They can teach you about what’s being taught in school. Mrs. Brisset, my daughter’s teacher, also emphasizes the importance of virtual playdates. Set up times throughout the week where your child can FaceTime or coordinate a Zoom meeting with their friends. They’ll probably get excited about the new experience. 

And this leads me to screen time! 

Credit: ShutterStock
Credit: ShutterStock

How do you limit screen time right now? My best advice is to create a schedule for the day. Children thrive off of routine and the ability to have a sense of control over their situation. Sit down with your child and create a schedule together. Include them in the process. Map out the time of day they should eat, especially since shelves are empty, and you just stocked up on groceries. So they are not about to eat up all the snacks in a day. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

In between your learning sessions, when they may need a snack, then stick a bowl of fruit and a bottle of water on the table. And if they’re starving, tell them they can hit up the fruit bowl or veggie tray. They’ll either eat it, and you’ll feel good they are actually eating healthy. Or they’ll remember they’re not truly hungry and wait until it’s officially mealtime. When they ask randomly if they can watch television or play on their iPad, refer back to the schedule you created together. This is a friendly reminder of what they should be doing during this time, and it allows them to look forward to the moment when it’s finally screen time. 

Related: Is Homeschooling the Future?

We are home, and at this point, the screen is our only connection to the outside world, so there’s going to be more screen time for everyone. Including parents, grandparents, teachers, and kids; pretty much all of us! There are several apps and websites for children categorized by subjects and age range. In support of our kids learning from home, many of these programs are giving out specials or offering free services, making it easier for the kids to have fun while learning and fulfilling their need for plenty of at-home entertainment! 

Here are a few resources you can use:

Starfall Education 

Raz-Kids

ABCmouse

PBS Kids

Global Space Education: Story Time in Space 

Youtube:

           Read Aloud for Kids

          Cosmic Kids Yoga – An amazing way to get Zen with your gem and relax for a minute!

           Just Dance Kids – PE time, get in that exercise.

           GoNoodle – Great physical movement for those rainy days!

For a full list of free online resources for children during school closures, please check out kidsactivitiesblog.com.

Alright, that was a lot to swallow! The main point I want you to take away is PEACE! Go easy on yourself. Have compassion and understanding. Change your expectations, be resourceful, but most of all, HAVE FUN! 

Happy parenting!

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