Faced with homeschooling for the first time? Not sure where to start?

Tips and tricks from a longtime homeschooler

Faced with homeschooling for the first time? Not sure where to start?
Ty Salvant and her family homeschool on a regular basis. She offers some advice to parents thrust into teaching by the Covid-19 crisis. (Source: Ty Salvant)

As measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 close schools for millions of kids around the world parents that may have never considered homeschooling hope to help their kids stay on track.

Ty Salvant is a veteran homeschooler and understands the task can seem overwhelming.

Salvant is a founder of the NOLA Homeschoolers a collection of parents that work together to share resources. She’s homeschooled all 6 of her children and says one of the big misconceptions many parents face is they think they need to work in a full 6 to 8 hours of instructional time.

Salvant says, “One of the tips I give to families of elementary age and younger students is that 2 hours of instruction is enough and it doesn’t have to be consecutive," Salvant said.

For high school that only increases to four hours. It also doesn’t have to be from the same parent.

This is important especially because many parents are also attempting to telecommute as well. Some also for the first time.

She says balance and breaks are important. She suggests starting with your child’s most challenging subject first thing in the morning.

For example, if your child struggles with math do that lesson possibly before you need to login for work getting in the most trying time for them then allowing an activity they enjoy such as legos for an hour so that you can have some quiet time to work. Pick up the next hour later in the day.

You also don’t have to work on every subject every day.

“The best thing about homeschooling is there is no homework. Once you are done for the day you are done,” Salvant said.

Salvant says schedules play a huge part in getting everything done in the day.

“Eating is huge. People are surprised how much their kids eat now that they are home,” said Salvant.

She suggests setting times for breakfast, snacks, and lunch to manage trips to the kitchen.

Another schedule buster is cleaning according to Salvant, “When everyone is home all day the house will be in disarray. Don’t squander work time cleaning.” She said, “Do a 15 minute quick clean before or after mealtimes and get everyone involved.”

She also suggested planning a quiet activity like reading for older children or naps times in the afternoon for a solid block of time to focus on work.

“Don’t put pressure on yourself to try to do everything,” said Salvant.

She says homeschoolers usually work in groups sharing resources with parents only teaching the subjects they are most comfortable with teaching. She said there are a number of online resources available now to help fill in the gaps. Many that are usually paysites, such as studyisland.com, are waiving fees for extended periods during the crisis.

NOLA Homeschoolers is keeping a running list in their Facebook group.

“If you are going to put them back into school, I think it’s wise to continue the way they do things in school," Salvant said.

These resources are particularly valuable for parents that may not be comfortable with the common core math standards many schools follow.

Salvant says the best way to get the most out of your homeschool time is to make it fun. Play a game where everyone keeps score checking the answers and reviewing mistakes is a great way to reinforce arithmetic. For young kids working on letters, she suggests a game of Tic Tac Toe using letters other than X and O.