Many parents have had to teach their children at home in 2020 and now going into 2021, thanks to the pandemic. Hallmark star Danica McKellar revealed that she’s homeschooled her son his entire life, and offered tips to help parents who are teaching at home for the first time.
In a column that she wrote for Romper, McKellar revealed that she has homeschooled her 10-year-old son his entire life. So when the pandemic hit, the only major change was extracurricular activities. She didn’t have to change her approach to schooling at all. But recognizing that many parents had to make big changes in their lives, she shared some tips and insights she’s gained from years of being a homeschooling parent herself.
She Suggests that Parents Use a Timer & Take Away Distractions
Distractions can be one of the toughest parts of homeschooling, McKellar shared. Using a timer can help your children stay focused rather than distracted. Decide on exactly how much time will be spent homeschooling. If it’s two hours, she said, then set a timer for two hours, but pause it when your child gets distracted.
“Let them know calmly that you’ve paused it and that you’re looking forward to restarting it when they get back to work,” she wrote. “They’ll be motivated to get the two hours done as quickly as possible, and will learn that staying focused means they’ll be done much sooner.”
McKellar also said that you should remove anything that easily distracts them from the room where they do schooling. She said that with her son Draco, she has to remove toys from where he’s having classes, even after years of homeschooling.
McKellar Suggests Letting Your Children Make Their Own Goals & Teach Their Stuffed Animals
She said giving your children ownership of their schooling can help. Let them put a to-do list of goals with you and check off the items throughout the day. The goals can include fun items too. She said that her items on the list might include subjects to study that day, while Draco’s list might include playing a video game for a certain amount of time or watching funny videos online.
Another way of giving your children ownership is by letting them teach your lesson to their stuffed animals or action figures. This can sometimes help them understand a topic better than simply learning from you.
She wrote: “My son might seem bored and not engaged with a lesson, but if I ask him to teach the topic to one of his stuffed animals, suddenly a light turns on. I’m always floored by how much more he was listening than it seemed.”
Allow for Humor & Creative Approaches
It’s important to take breaks and go outside for fresh air, McKellar added. She said that acting out concepts you’re studying, making jokes together about a lesson, or going outside for a run can all make a big difference.
She said that when Draco got upset at a subject, she’d bring out a stuffed animal who was so mad at her for making him learn the topic.
She wrote: “I’ll bring a stuffed animal out and have it get enraged at the indignity, using a cute little voice to say things like, ‘How could your mom do this to you? This is torture…’ The further I go, the better. This gets him giggling and saying things like, ‘No, she isn’t mean; this is sharpening my brain.’”
She Said Loving Your Kids & Yourself Is Vital
McKellar added that it’s important for parents to have patience not just with their children, but with themselves too. Children can pick up on your feelings if you’re being too hard on yourself, and they mimic how you treat yourself or how you act.
She wrote: “This pandemic has thrown us all into the deep end, navigating new rules and regulations… With the right mindset, our kids can be our partners during this time.”
On an Instagram post, she provided more insight, writing: “With schooling at home, I know parenting has been particularly tough. 😳 First of all, you’re doing fine! So please don’t be hard on yourselves – the MOST important thing is to love your kids during this time, for real.”
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