I taught my children at home for a total of 17 years. I did it because I’d been a high school English teacher and I’d seen a lot of kids who were falling through the cracks. I also did it because my kids were gifted and pretty creative, and I didn’t want them to lose their desire to learn or their creativity. They are all now very successful, contributing adults.
If you’re home with your kids right now, I have a few suggestions:
1. Plan to enjoy the time together.
Don’t complain about having to be with them or try to incorporate a school-like structure. Instead, treat it as a time to explore new things and have fun with them, and they’ll have fun with you.
2. Focus on teaching them how to think for themselves, and not just how to regurgitate facts.
(That’s actually the ultimate goal of education — to create individuals who can think clearly and act wisely.)
3. Ask them what they’d like to know and help them learn that.
When I was young, I was fascinated by the pyramids and mummies and read everything I could find about Egypt. I also know a ton about birds and trees, and can identify most flowers, not because I was taught but because I was interested. Each of us is different, and this is a great time to encourage those differences.
4. Teach them things they need to know (based on their age).
Practical things like how to tie knots, manage money, sew on buttons, change a light bulb, survive if they had to cook for themselves, even how the government works, how to change a car’s tire, how to wash their own clothes, etc. etc.
5. Find them stories/novels to read that will not only entertain but challenge them.
Fantasy is great for stirring the imagination. Adventures can be good. Mysteries, history, biographies, memoir, stories about animals or about how things work… Each child will likely have different interests.
6. Get out the blocks or Lego.
Encourage them to build things they’ve never made before. Understanding spatial relationships is important.
7. Give them a variety of puzzles to do.
From activity books where they have to find things to jigsaw puzzles of varying complexity to logic problems, puzzles are fun and will expand their minds. Make sure the puzzle is appropriate for their age and abilities so they don’t get frustrated.
8. Play games with them.
Especially card games or board games. You could also make up a game for them, like a scavenger hunt.
9. Let them be bored.
If children are always in school or in organized programs (sports, swimming lessons, etc.) they seldom have time to be alone, to read, or just to goof off. But children need time to play, imagine, and learn how to plan their own time. They have to be allowed freedom to explore, create, invent, dream, and doodle.
10. Brainstorm ways each of them or your whole family could do something to help another person during this time.
Make the time memorable. Make cards or videos for grandparents, write a story or a song for a friend, send a meal or a cheque to someone in need… Working together to be safe and to help others at the same time might become a memory that stays with them forever, or alters who they will become.
Honest, this could be some of the best time you’ll ever spend as a family.