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Teaching Your Kids at Home: Advice from Expert Teachers


With schools closed across the country, many parents are working to teach their kids at home under extraordinary circumstances. Folks have been sharing their thoughts (nay, cries for help) across social media.



Do you need a helping hand teaching your kids at home while adjusting to all of the other changes in the world? Look to the best of the best: our nation’s teachers. 

The teachers who post projects on DonorsChoose are experts in their field and regularly go above and beyond for their students. Over half a million of these classroom heroes have used DonorsChoose to bring resources to their classrooms. Now, they want to give back to you. Here’s their advice.

Structure, structure, structure

“Create and stick to a schedule or routine,” says Crystal, a Pennsylvania high school teacher. Creating a daily schedule will help to set kids’ expectations and yours, delineating clear moments for focusing on schoolwork. 

Don’t worry; it doesn’t need to be a relentless, strict regimen of reading, writing, math, and science. “Make a schedule with movement breaks built-in,” suggests Judy, a 2nd-grade teacher in Massachusetts. You can also build in snack breaks, playtime, chore time, you name it. (The best part? You have the freedom to make these as convenient as you can for yourself and the other busy adults in the house.) You might have to experiment a bit to find the right balance.

“This isn't a normal situation, so you don't need to treat it like one,” says Louisiana educator Margaret. “Do an hour of traditional education then get outside, play a board game, or build a lego set. Repeat!”

Pro tip: Have the kids dress “for school”. Getting ready for the day can be unexpectedly energizing, and subtly help kids prepare mentally for learning. (Tami, 5th-grade teacher, Texas)

Choice is, well, choice 

Has your afternoon been tainted by an epic battle with your child over the math worksheet their teacher sent home? The answer to your woes can be found in one word: choice. 

“Give the kids choices,” suggests Crystal. “Make a list of what they should complete and let them choose the order.” Giving kids a sense of agency in their schoolwork makes them more bought-in to the whole idea of completing the tasks they need to.

Pro tip: If you want to go the extra mile, create the list of to-dos with your child, and let them add fun “wishlist” items amongst the school items. (Simone, 2nd-grade teacher, Connecticut)

Think outside the box

“Some of the best learning doesn’t come from a book,” says Kerriann, who teaches 5th grade in Texas. “Look for teachable moments.” Whether you’re looking up the type of bird that just landed on your windowsill, using the nightly news to emphasize compassion, or searching a map for that city from the movie you’re watching, teachable moments are everywhere.

When you’re stuck: If you’re struggling to find a creative learning activity that won’t feel like a chore, there’s one suggestion that cropped up repeatedly amongst our teachers: baking! Baking can be used to teach addition, fractions, physics, or simple collaboration. Plus, the result is cookies (or a cake or bread or brownies). Is there a more delicious lesson to be had?

We’re in this together

Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself! If you’re worried, busy, frustrated, or sad during this extraordinary moment, that’s okay. You don’t need to conquer your emotions (or, for that matter, be an expert in science, math, or reading) to make this an enriching time.

Says Annmarie, an elementary school teacher in New Jersey: “Be patient. Take time to do something fun; just make memories. When your child looks back on this experience you want them to remember how you baked, exercised, played a game together. Remembering what you laughed about is more important than reviewing sight words or math facts. Everything in moderation.”

Perhaps Kerrian in Texas says it best: “You got this!!”

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