by Karen Jo Agnello
From a long-time homeschool mom to all the new homeschool parents, “You’ve got this!” Don’t panic. Number one, almost every single family in the country is learning to homeschool right now and no one is prepared. Number two, there are tons of resources available online.
Let’s take a deep breath and relax. Your children need to see your strength during this time of crisis. Allow your family time to be together: go to the park together, read a new book together, bake together, garden together, color or do a craft together, take a hike together, do a 1000 piece puzzle together, learn to sew/knit/crochet together, bake or learn a new recipe together, play Wii Fit together, play any game together. The key is to be together to provide your children the reassurance that we will all survive this crisis.
It’s much easier than you think to incorporate learning into everyday tasks at home. In our homeschool family, we’re always learning, whether it is planning a menu, shopping for bargains when planning a meal, measuring ingredients for a meal, or learning spatial relationships whilst loading the dishwasher. Think about the tasks you do at home and include your children with the goal of teaching them a skill, not just completing a chore.
If your district is providing their curriculum online or with alternative methods, you should not feel pressured that your child should sit and stare at the computer for 6 hours straight. They don’t do that at school. They have opportunities to work in groups, read silently and aloud, do experiments, have recess, art, PE, Music, even walk in the halls to change classes. Do the same thing at home. Make sure to provide frequent “brain-breaks” throughout the day to encourage variety with learning.
If it turns out that homeschooling is right for your family in the future, Colorado has very few restrictions and many state sponsored opportunities. Trinidad even has a local homeschool group that meets regularly for co-ops and field trips. You can find them on Facebook: the H.A.R.T- Homeschoolers Around Raton and Trinidad.
If your district is not providing a curriculum (and even if they are) there are many resources that are offering free subscriptions now. There are websites offering free virtual opportunities: virtual field trips/tours of museums and National Parks; entertainers reading books; Metropolitan Opera and Broadway virtual shows; dance, art, and quilting classes; and even virtual rides at Disney World. Trinidad Kids and Youth Connection and Calendar on Facebook has been posting multiple links to online learning opportunities. Some favorites:
• Kids Discover- free access to their digital library
• NASA makes their entire media library publicly accessible and copyright free- https://images.nasa.gov/
• NASA Stem at Home
• Virtual Field Trips- Buckingham Palace, White House, Monterrey Bay Aquarium, Mt. Everest, National Aquarium, National Museum of US Air Force, Smithsonian Museum, Zoos, Farms, etc
• Google Earth has virtual tours of 31 National Parks
• Netflix and Amazon have numerous educational titles, including Imax, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, etc
• History Colorado will offer Hands On History Mon-Fri at 10 am via Zoom
• Kennedy Space Center has launched science lessons on Facebook live
• Distance Learning Resources from the Smithsonian Learning Lab
• Scholastic Learn at Home
• funbrain.com – math and reading games
• mathisfun.org – a great site full of math and logic games
• National Geographic Kids
• HippoCampus.org – 7000 free videos in 13 subjects
• SuperCharged Science
• PBS Learning Media
• Project Explorer- free videos from around the world
• National Geographic Kids
• Old Farmer’s Almanac for kids- free
• Freedom Homeschooling- free
• Khan Academy- free
• Elephango- reduced from $200 a year to $20 a year
• Starfall- has free parent-teacher resources
• Ed Helper- Daily Free Learning Workbooks
• 123 Homeschool 4 Me- free worksheets
• Big History Project- free, middle and highschool
• Discovery k12- Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade