A Do-It-Yourself Education

Do you love Connect Four too?! In my gif, the Connect Four champion is connecting four, dropping the winning piece into the fifth column, and perhaps engaging in some friendly trash talk with his opponent (who is just out of frame😊).

This post is for parents of online students. My hope this year is that even without traditional or even effective teaching, everyone can find a way to ‘Connect Four’ (corny, I know) and progress. I have a few thoughts and tricks up my sleeve, in case your student doesn’t enjoy being dumped on Zoom all day.

Here are some ideas to keep your student moving this year:

  1. Workbooks: Download some workbooks and have your student create a routine of doing a few pages or exercises every day. If you need to, download the answer key(s).
  2. Have your student teach you what they are learning. Set aside a special time for a daily, weekly, or monthly formal presentation. They can be the teacher and assign you several math problems, teach you a science experiment, explain some new vocabulary, read you a piece of their writing, or create and moderate a trivia game.
  3. Find books your student is interested in and read them as much as you can. Also, find some classics that your student is not interested in and read them as much as you can.
  4. Be forgiving and patient if your student doesn’t understand something. If they are truly stuck or discouraged, move on to something else and circle back to it.
  5. Give the amount of feedback your student is hungry for. Don’t give them tons of feedback if it will make them feel bad. This is difficult! But just take them to the next step.
  6. Khan Academy, IXL, and Prodigy are great learning platforms with clear, immediate feedback. Skillshare is another fun resource, although it’s not free.
  7. Have your child create a budget and do the grocery shopping and meal prep for the week (Maybe keep some back-up snacks on hand, in case this does not go to plan 😊).
  8. Mothers, please stop talking about how bad at math you are. Your children are listening. My mother is incredible at math. She stole my Calculus homework in high school and did it for fun! But even if you are truly bad at math, stay mum🤐. It’s not helpful to tell your young child that you don’t know your multiplication tables. Consider learning them with your kid! Math is important.
  9. This year you can let your kids learn about whatever they (or you) would like to learn about. They can learn about your passions and areas of expertise. State standards are also very helpful (especially for history), but if you can’t stick to that, keep learning something. Turn a question at breakfast into a research project and poster presentation. Keep momentum, keep developing skills, keep gathering information, and keep due dates and accountability. Even if it doesn’t feel linear, keep learning. Stay hungry.
  10. Watch documentaries and historical movies. You can stop every 30 minutes and chat about it or write a short paragraph at the end. Learning while you watch a movie is fun!
  11. Have your child learn graphic design via sketch, or learn programming via Codecademy. Look at job descriptions online and learn whatever skills they require.
  12. Assign your student a few service hours.
  13. Talk about how much you love learning.

Lastly, have patience with your student’s poor teachers. Teaching is a difficult job under normal circumstances. If you can teach a huge class of all types of children via Zoom for 30 hours a week better than your student’s teacher– please, please do.

Good luck!! ☀️ You are going to do great.

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