This winter's extreme snowstorms in the Mid Atlantic taught many parents a valuable lesson as it pertains to their children's day to day education: like travel plans, make sure you have a plan B. After two days of mandatory hibernation, many parents were running out of homework and educational ideas for their kids.
My son's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lydia Henderson, lends some useful tips for home schooling children while homebound (or hotel hotel-bound) due to adverse weather.
For language development, Mrs. Henderson suggests the following activities:
- Make a poem using words like "toy" and "tree" for example. Illustrate the poem, then add color to the pictures. Next, mail the poem to a friend (if you can make it to the post office). Parents can discuss the mailing process to their child, explaining who delivers the mail and how it is delivered.
- Generate discussion with your child about why donuts have holes. You can explain the following possible solutions: a.) They cook faster; b.) are easier to eat this way; c.) are stackable; d.) can be transported with one finger; e.) can easily be stung together like beads; Egypt f.) can be used as a ring toss when they harden. Children can practice their neat writing habits by jotting down the solutions on a colorful piece of paper. Then they can eat a donut for fun!
Mrs. Henderson makes the point that everything around us is a learning tool and can be manipulated in fun and creative ways for our children – even a donut!
Here are some other things she feels parents need to be mindful of:
- For Kindergartners specifically, attention should be placed on academic rote memorization using math and reading / phonics drills.
- Children's normal attention span is usually double the minutes of their age, give or take a couple of minutes, and depending on the individual child. For example: a 6 year old will only have 12 to 15 minutes of true academic memory recollection in a setting. They should have at least this much time of a break before engaging into a new subject. However, parents know their children best.
- Children should stay on schedule as much as possible during vacation or inclement weather absences. They should arise and sleep close to the norm for a school day. However, eating arrangements can vary. Study time should take place between 8:30 and 10:30 in the morning as this is the most productive learning time for young children.
- Try to keep a routine and not allow your child to roam aimlessly around the house. Although they should be given some time to themselves, limit your child's alone time on TV, video games, and the computer.
- Whether you are at home or are traveling, use the weather environment to teach your child. You can discuss the scientific process of snow, rain, thunder, and lightening as it is taking place.
- Do not be concerned if one day at home does not go completely as planned in regards to the learning. You can always come back to the assignment later or even the next day.
Most importantly, Mrs. Henderson suggests enjoying your child where they're at right now. Do not miss out on that sweet growing time with them!